I like to joke that I know just enough about science to be dangerous but not particularly effective. Apparently, I also know just enough about science to appreciate all the obvious work that Weir has once again put into what is otherwise a classic SF adventure novel without the pesky burden of knowing whether any of it is actually correct (but seriously, major props to this book’s peer reviewers, because there is a lot of cool science). Fans of The Expanse series (books and/or television) should give this story a shot because it relies on relatively realistic science to showcase an epic interstellar adventure.
Rather than burden the first half of the book with build-up, I enjoyed Weir’s narrative choice to interweave Ryland’s current experiences on the Hail Mary with memories that either fill in relevant backstory or do just enough work to explain something necessary. This way, neither timeline feels like it drags. And, as usual, Weir infuses Ryland with a fantastic personality that oozes out of the first-person point of view so that even the (many) scenes in which Ryland is by himself never grow boring or stagnant.
I know plenty of readers who complained about Weir’s sophomore slump with Artemis (which I also thoroughly enjoyed, despite its flaws), but he’s back on this stride with this imaginative near-future adventure. I hesitated to read this semi-apocalyptic story considering 2021 is still in the grips of a very real pandemic. Still, the spouse and I ended up fighting over who got to read our shared copy (both of us still managed to burn through the pages in the space of a weekend).
There’s so much more I’d love to talk about that happened in this book, but I do try to keep my reviews spoiler-free. However, I feel safe enough to say that I want to be Stratt when I grow up, always pay attention to details in requisition forms, don’t knock the overall health benefits of vodka, and Ryland is no longer allowed to name things.
Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.
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