The strength of Andy Weir's hard sci-fi storytelling was evident in The Martian . He sets up a problem, shows us a solution, then does everything in his author-ly power to prevent the main character from achieving that solution. His scientific explanations might get a little dry, but they are necessary to understand the situation without diving too deep into details. While his sophomore effort with Artemis showed me he struggles with writing women, he came back to his roots and knocked it out of the park with Project Hail Mary.
There are many similarities between The Martian and Project Hail Mary, which is probably why I like both books equally. Sure, the stakes are higher in Project Hail Mary—with the survival of humanity on the line instead of just one astronaut—but the explanation of the science follows the same format he used in The Martian. Specifically, a problem derails all the progress made so far, and it requires more science (often jury-rigged) to fix. The twist that gives this book a slight edge over The Martian is how science is a universal concept.
I came into this book blind, which helped me fully appreciate the "buddy" dynamic between the two main characters. The flashbacks felt a little like an exposition cop-out due to Ryland Grace's amnesia, but they were necessary to ground the motivation of his character. Without Ryland's "friend" that he found on the journey, it's difficult to know if the result of the last-ditch effort to save Earth would have had the same outcome. There are strong comparisons to Ted Chiang's short story, Story of Your Life (and its film adaptation of Arrival (2016)) here, which just shows how well-thought-out this book was.
Another perfect hard sci-fi adventure by Andy Weir, I give Project Hail Mary 5.0 stars out of 5.