This was by far my most anticipated book of 2021. I positively loved The Martian, even enjoying the movie adaptation, though not nearly as much as the book. I listened to both The Martian and PJH. Let me tell you, this is the way to experience these books. Both are first person narration by the particular astronaut who is stuck out in space by himself. Both have fairly similar voices, but the story lines are very unique and set apart from one another, and both are immensely worth it. I actually thought they may have been narrated by the same person, but they weren’t. The Martian was read by voice actor, R.C. Bray, and Project Hail Mary was read by Ray Porter. Granted, it had been a while since I listened to The Martian, so they probably sound pretty distinguishable but it’s just the character tone that made me think they were similar. Both of the voice actors are extremely talented. Honestly, I wondered if Porter was annoyed by how many different accents he had to do during the flashback sequences when the mission was being planned by a diverse coalition of international entities, but he did a fabulous job in my opinion.
Ryland Grace wakes from a coma to bad news, but honestly he doesn’t know how bad the news is. All he knows is he has no idea who he is, where he is, or why he is there, but he is the only survivor. His two crewmates, a man and a woman he can’t remember, didn’t survive their induced coma, so he is alone with two dead bodies and an irritating computer who is more than a little unhelpful. Things get worse when he soon realizes he’s not just alone, but he’s alone in space. IN ANOTHER SOLAR SYSTEM. Oh shit…
And that’s all the synopsis I’m going to give you, because I consider everything that comes after that to be a spoiler. Well, ok, you probably already know that Grace was sent to space on a very important mission to save humanity. If he fails, literally everyone and everything on Earth will die. No pressure. As the novel progresses, it bounces back and forth between flashbacks that are his memories of his past on Earth returning, and the present as he tries to troubleshoot issues he faces on his humanity-saving mission.
This was positively divine. Everything about this book: the plot, the humor, the character development, the suspense. Everything is sheer perfection. I was on the edge of my seat for the entirety of this book and found myself needing to keep listening. Ryland Grace may not be a perfect man, as we do inevitably find him to be very flawed in a very human way, but he is a perfect character. He reacts to situations in a way very similar to the way I think many of us would in real life. He’s funny, charming and endearing, and the narration is extremely conversational in tone, which leads the reader to feel as if we are actually a part of all the action.
Andy Weir has an incredible gift. He’s a profoundly intelligent man, and he knows a lot of science stuff, but he writes about it in a way that’s very accessible for the average reader. Also, he just seems like the kind of guy I’d want to go grab a drink with, both intelligent and super fun. I’m a casual reader of science fiction and speculative fiction. I can grasp a concept but I can’t jump off into a lengthy discussion about astrophysics or quantum mechanics or other super complex scientific topic you might throw at me. I’d just give you the blinky blink and take another sip of my drink, because it’s obviously going to be a long night. But somehow, even with all the science talk in Weir’s books, I still manage to remain captivated, even understanding what he’s trying to say. This is all credit given to Weir for managing to make something so technical interesting through proper communication. I can’t critique the believability of his science. Not even close. I’m just taking his word for it that it all makes sense. Frankly, he has me convinced this is a super likely cosmic scenario, and that’s a bit more than moderately scary. Also, can we send Andy Weir to space if the space poop hits the fan? I think he’s the only one capable of actually saving humanity.
This book is incredibly well balanced. Sure, it’s a thrilling and amazing space adventure that allows us a bit of needed escapism, but it’s also a truly heartfelt story that inevitably makes us feel a bit warm and gushy inside. At least once my eyes leaked. It’s a human thing. I won’t say too much, but suffice to say there are some very touching moments in this novel that show us the importance of working together, of forging connections and bonds across barriers and individual differences that seem insurmountable. In today’s us versus them environment, I think that’s a very vital lesson for us all. No obstacle is insurmountable with a little faith in one another and a dash of selflessness in pursuit of the common good. Please read this book. I’m sad it’s over. 5 stars.
Published May 4, 2021 by Audible Studios. ASIN: B08GB2RLKM. Narrated by Ray Porter. This post contains affiliate links. I receive a commission for purchases made through my site.