Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir [7/10]

If you’re like me and enjoyed Andy Weir’s The Martian, and then watched the movie starring Matt Damon, you know what to expect in Weir’s latest novel, “Project Hail Mary.” Perhaps like me, when you first encounter the namesake spaceship hurtling millions of kilometers from earth and wake up in the head of its sole survivor, uber geek Ryland Grace, you’ll picture a groggy Matt Damon, waking up to solve the puzzle of his whereabouts and his stupendous mission, rolling up his sleeves to calculate and make and shift and actuate, disarmingly using brainpower to stay alive, resurrect his mission, and yes, save humanity. Andy Weir is an elegant, natural stylist, perfectly evoking Ryland’s jokey, gritty personality. The plot careens towards ever more jaw-dropping space events, taking a twist midstream into territory scarcely believable but executed with such panache that I, the reader, flowed with it. I’m guessing if excessive sci-fi science is a turnoff, you’ll reject this book, but if you love any form of mental tussling, grab it and strap in for a jolly freewheeling ride. You might even, like me, read it in two enjoyable sittings. Project Hail Mary takes too many outrageous plot risks, and is too tailor-made for another super-hero-like Matt-Damon-starring movie, to be genuinely stirring, but science-driven entertainment of this quality is indeed rare.

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