Author: Andy Weir Publisher: Del Rey Publishing
Page Count: 496
A scientific romp through space – one man left to save an entire planet.
This is the third book in the series of Weir’s Science Fiction novels – with The Martian starting them all off. Now The Martian, in my opinion, is the top standard of Science Fiction based writing which has a heavy emphasis on realistic science. Hail Mary very much follows in the footsteps of The Martian and both books compete for the top spot of my favourite within Weir’s novels.
The story commences with an introduction to our protagonist Ryland Grace, who has been left isolated on a ship sailing through space, unsure of his mission but desperate to the ship functioning again. I loved the start to this story, as it allowed me to slowly be introduced to both the characters backstory, as well as the problem in hand. Ryland at first comes across as a competent individual, but as his history is unveiled we begin to peel away at the layers binding this character together. His becomes grounded, almost a man I could see myself as, aiding my own imagination in picturing myself trapped in space. His backstory is told through his journey in being recruited into saving the earth, beginning as a failed scientist who now teaches high school to a lead scientists working for the world’s government.
The story is based around solving a crisis on earth – a new organism known as the Astrophage are absorbing all the light from the sun, preventing both heat and light from reaching the rest of the solar system. These new creatures are completely unknown to the world and a solution needs discovering quickly. Throughout the book, Weir takes every opportunity to fill his pages with science – which as someone who studied science at a degree level, I loved hugely – but Weir has a real gift within his writing. No one else that I have read, is able to make complicated science seem so simple and straight, weaving key terminology and substance without detracting from the story itself. Never did the science impede on the story that was being told, if anything it only enhanced the story throughout.
The other part of the story I enjoyed was the thrill of problem solving. The story was filled with moments to overcome by the cast of characters, being taken through the steps of enthralling twists and turns leading to the solution which always felt gratifying and rewarding both for the characters and myself. Now this leads me to the remaining cast of characters, who I felt added to the story throughout. The other main character to Grace’s story is Rocky – an alien who too is attempting to save his race from destruction by the Astrophage. Rocky’s abilities and personality are different from Grace’s and together they make a wonderful team – taking their journey along learning to understand each other whilst using each other’s skills in order to save both world. I enjoyed Rocky’s addition to the story and he was well written within the school. He was both alien (I enjoy the pun) and human at the same time, allowing my imagination to picture this character whilst also wondering what his true form would look like if he was real.
Hail Mary is an absolute triumph in Science Fiction writing – following on from The Martian’s success, Hail Mary demonstrates that Weir has a true skill in being able to write scientifically whilst maintaining an accessible writing style.