The fate of the planet rests on the shoulders of an amnesiac in “Project Hail Mary”

A man wakes up in a bed with a computer asking him what two plus two do.

Hail Mary Project by Andy Weir (Courtesy photo)

After some effort, the man is able to open his eyes and see that he is in an unfamiliar room and that he is attached to a variety of tubes and other equipment. Man is initially unable to say the answer but is eventually able to gain muscle control over his mouth to respond correctly. When he asks where he is, the computer continues to ask his programmed questions and the man ends up falling asleep again.

When a man wakes up, he has better control over his body and is more alert. He’s surprised to find that his body is more muscular than he thinks, especially since he assumes he’s been in a coma and his muscles should have atrophied. As the man tries to get up, the computer moves on to the next question: what is your name? And that’s when the man realizes he has no idea who he is. Which is a bit of a problem since the fate of the world rests on his shoulders. He is the title Hail Mary. Plus, there might actually be more of a planet survival resting on its shoulders.

Andy Weir’s “The Martian” was one of my favorite books I read in 2014 when it was released. When I heard what Weir’s last book was about and that it was going to be similar to his first book, I was already expecting an interesting and fun read. Weir is good at creating endearing characters who are placed in impossible situations and are forced to rely on their knowledge of science to survive. And their sarcastic minds and their lines.

The author takes the best passages of “The Martian” and sets up the dial. Mark Watney had only to discover his own survival, for his own good. Ryland Grace must understand not only his own survival, but all of Earth depends on him as well. Plus, Ryland has to do it while he’s suffering from amnesia.

The novel is structured around what Ryland is currently doing and the circumstances for which he does what he does are told in flashbacks as Ryland’s memory returns. What’s interesting about this format is that the character can comment on their past as if they were also an observer of it. While this novel is an exciting survival story of a man using science to survive, it is also the story of two friends and how they meet and learn to see beyond their differences in order to reach their goals. Goals.

Andy Weir’s “Project Hail Mary” is available from the Sterling Public Library and as an eBook on OverDrive. The Martian is also available as a book, audiobook, and DVD from the library as well as on OverDrive as an eBook.

Erica Kallsen is a librarian at the Sterling Public Library.


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