Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

4 out of 5 stars

Silhouettes of the tops of pine trees with a purple and maroon sky. The sky appears starless but the moon is visible.

I learned with The Martian that Andy Weir can make hi-tech astronaut talk sound interesting all while making readers laugh out loud at the humor and ingenuity of the main characters he creates. Project Hail Mary is no exception. In his newest book, Weir almost lives up to the incredibly high standard he set with The Martian and he far surpasses the disappointing Artemis. 

In Project Hail Mary, science teacher Ryland Grace is part of a space mission designed to save humanity from the threat of Astrophage. The story alternates between the present time when Grace is in space and flashing back to pre-mission days.

If you’ve read The Martian, the early chapters of Project Hail Mary will seem familiar. You’ll immediately notice the inner dialogue of Ryland Grace sounds a lot like that of Mark Watney. Both men find themselves alone in a spaceship and have to figure out a lot to stay alive. They display a similar level of humor and creativity. However, Project Hail Mary adds in an alien being from another planet. The relationship between Ryland and Rocky and the way the two learn to understand each other is the best part of the book.

As endearing as the relationship between Ryland and Rocky was, it didn’t quite make up for how much more technical Project Hail Mary was than The Martian. I found it much more difficult to follow the technical information in Project Hail Mary and felt that some of it could have been cut out without sacrificing any of the story.

Overall, I thought Project Hail Mary was an enjoyable read. I was glad to go along on the journey with Ryland and Rocky.

Entanglement by Alina Leonova

5 out of 5 stars

With implants, DNA edits, and human memory rewrites, the storyline in this dystopian read was beyond inventive. Cay, Limea, and Vietra are layered, unique characters, who become entangled in situations that kept me guessing throughout the book.

The circumstances that these well-developed characters face force the reader to confront the question of “What is the most fundamental element that makes a person who they are?” I was completely captivated by the different paths Limea and Vietra took to uncover their true selves.

Set in a world where plant life is beginning to threaten human life, the book manages to weave in important messages about environmental preservation.

Leonova does take the reader down a few rabbit holes, but the story is so mesmerizingly distinctive that I didn’t mind. I’m looking forward to seeing what she writes next!

Thank you to the author for providing a free review copy in exchange for my honest opinions.

Humanity Lost by Meghan Douglass

5 out of 5 stars

Photo by Flash Mama Photography

“Things that no person should ever consider doing had now become necessary, reasonable, and entirely justifiable.”

Meghan Douglass, Humanity Lost

Meghan Douglass is my most recent find through following the Twitter writing community.

In her debut novella, Humanity Lost, conditions on Earth make it uninhabitable, sending the 6 person crew of the spacecraft Valhalla on a mission to save humanity.

Events quickly progress after the crew awakens from stasis and is faced with making some unthinkable choices. 

I sometimes struggle with shorter works, wanting more character development and longer scenes in order for the story to feel complete. That wasn’t the case with Humanity Lost. Although it has fewer than 60 pages, the tale felt finished.

Douglass makes the most of every page, creating memorable characters and packing several shocking twists in this horrific story that leaves a lasting impression.

The Humane Algorithm by Trevor Wynyard

4 out of 5 stars

The Humane Algorithm, a newly-released dystopian novel, is told from the perspective of Matt Turner, an older brother and father figure to Kevin. Matt lives with Kevin and his mother in a society where the government strictly regulates electricity and controls access to medical care. The Turners find themselves in desperate need of high level medical care when Matt discovers their mother is gravely ill.

The premise of this book was interesting to me, and I liked that it centered on a family of three. With his oldest child syndrome and deep love for his mother, Matt was a relatable protagonist.

Wynyard does an excellent job with world-building in this novel. I appreciated his descriptions of scenes, like when Matt and Kevin try to get their mother admitted to the government-run hospital. He gives enough detail for you to envision what’s happening without being too sparse or overly descriptive.

My quibbles with this book were minor. I would have liked more background about how society evolved to be the way it is described in the book. I also had a little bit of trouble following some of the family timelines — I couldn’t figure out how much older Matt was than Kevin. The ending also felt a little unresolved, though that’s likely because the reader is being set up for the next book in the Streetlighters Trilogy. The odds are good that I will read the second book in the series.

I received an ARC of this book through BookSirens in exchange for my honest review.

The One by John Marrs

4 out of 5 stars

I found out about this sci-fi meets psychological thriller through a BookBub special. I was convinced to buy it because the premise of this book was fascinating. The concept of taking a DNA test to find your one true love was very intriguing. What if you are already happily married but not to your one true match? What if your one true match lives halfway around the world? 

I enjoyed reading all of the different scenarios the characters found themselves in after taking this “Ancestry DNA meets Match.com” test, although some of the scenarios the true matches found themselves in were pretty far-fetched.

My only criticism of the book is that there were a few too many characters to follow. With the stories of five different couples told through alternating viewpoints, it got a little confusing at times.

However, the inventive storyline and thought-provoking writing style were more than enough to make up for this drawback. I plan to check out more books by John Marrs.

The Scars of Gaia by R.P. Lauer

Five out of five stars

Cover of the book The Scars of Gaia

This dystopian sci-fi novel focuses on the relationship between James, a merchant from Deice, and Claire, a botanist from Acumen. These two nations, which are part of the world of Gaia, have dramatically different values. Deice prizes power and physical strength while Acumen cares only about knowledge and science. 

Birds flying underneath colorful cloud cover.

James and Claire discover that their nations may be on the brink of war. The pair must figure out what, if anything, can be done to stop the destruction.

The parallels between these two opposing societies and the polarization present in our country now made this an even more compelling read for me.

Part one of the story unhurriedly sets the stage for the events to come. The pacing picks up significantly in part two and sprints to a surprising and satisfying conclusion.

I appreciated the book’s message that real strength comes from compassion, empathy, and love.

I look forward to reading more by R.P. Lauer.