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Jets Flyover

Daegu International School's student news site
ANNOUNCEMENTS
  • Spring Break from April 8th-12th.
  • HSSC Baseball Game @Samsung Lions Park on April 4th.
  • [HS] Friendly Match Soccer vs. DMHS @Camp Walker on April 2nd.
  • Don't forget your spirit shirts on Friday.
The Student News Site of Daegu International School

Jets Flyover

The Student News Site of Daegu International School

Jets Flyover

A Starry Voyage into Space with Grace Ryland

Explore the Niche Elements of Andy Weir’s “Project Hail Mary”
A+Starry+Voyage+into+Space+with+Grace+Ryland
Olivia Park

*Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers about the novel “Project Hail Mary”

Grace Ryland opens his eyes as he floats in zero gravity, tubed up and with no memory of his name. Alone among a sea of corpses, he realizes a dire mission: he must save humanity. 

In the book “Project Hail Mary,” humans utilize the Astrophage, a super-engine more efficient than any other energy source on Earth. But behind this state-of-the-art technology lies a dark truth: the engine sucks the Sun’s energy up and brings humanity closer to a frigid Ice Age. 

To stop this existential crisis, protagonist Grace Ryland embarks on a deadly mission 12 light-years away from Earth to find the Taumoeba, the cure to the Astrophage. However, Ryland faces many adversities and loses consciousness on the way to space. 

When he regains consciousness, he finds himself surrounded by hundreds of friendly computer bots. In his journey, he meets Rocky, an alien, and they hit it off throughout the journey to discover a possible cure for the Astrophage, he meets alien Rocky, who becomes a reliable companion throughout his adventure.

Weir weaves a tear-jerking tale of pure friendship between the selfless and courageous duo, leaving everyone yearning for more when they close the cover. Although my yen for books began in sixth grade, I never craved sci-fi. But while reading “Project Hail Mary,” I fell in love with Rocky, the little alien, and the intricate world the author wove. 

Illustration by Christine Park.

Specifically, I loved how the author gave cliché story elements a unique twist. As the story reaches its climax, the Astrophage saps exorbitant amounts of energy, leaving Ryland with none to return to Earth. Out of friendship, Rocky sacrifices part of the engine from the spacecraft he needs to return to his home planet Erid. The two protagonists’ decisions to put each other first in life-or-death situations highlight the resilience that comes from friendship. 

Let us highlight another aspect of the novel: the author’s writing style. The author’s use of first-person perspective keeps the readers engaged in the whole plot. Throughout the story, the reader is just as in the dark as the two protagonists, and this adds to the suspense of the novel. 

Numerous audiences expressed admiration for the duo’s courage. “I liked it when the main character figured out that he wasn’t a hero but that he was sent off from earth to save humanity, and he was forced to, he was a coward,” said freshman Justin Son. Even when a borderline-suicidal, unprecedented mission pushes Ryland to his limits, the protagonists persevere through without doubts. 

Weir enhances the nuance of his characters with their dual natures. On one hand, the Taumoeba is the key to Earth’s Ice-Age crisis, but on the journey back to Earth, it escapes its confinements and eats away at Ryland’s spacecraft engine. On the contrary, the Astrophage, although the “villain” of the story, fuels the way back to the home planet. In doing so, Weir adds dimension to the story and leaves some food for thought for the readers. 

On the way back, Ryland successfully removes the escaped Taumoeba from the spacecraft so that it can’t eat any more of the spaceship’s engines. But here comes my favorite part: Weir defies the “happy ending for the hero” cliché, and everything goes haywire. Ryland learns that the Astrophage infiltrated Erid, leaving Rocky in grave danger. Without a second thought, the hero turns back. 

The unexpected turn in the resolution adds to the uniqueness of this book. While other books would continue on with the archetypal happy-ever-after ending, this text presents a more dramatic revelation. Ryland returns to the extraterrestrial planet to save Rocky, although he knows he won’t be able to make it back to Earth. Left with nowhere else to go, Ryland settles on Rocky’s planet, and since he saved Erid from the Astrophage, the locals gladly accept him as one of their own kind. 

Some might find Weir’s world-building too abstruse. When I first started this book, I noticed that it was difficult for me to immerse myself in it because of the excessive background information and a constant back and forth from the past (Earth) to the present (space). Furthermore, Weir only featured two characters and wove a relatively simplistic plot. Rather, I would have liked to see more sophisticated character development. Despite some trips in the beginning, once I got the hang of the flow and delved into the unique characteristics of Ryland and Rocky, it earned its place as one of my favorite novels.

Ryland and Rocky’s selfless, heartwarming actions were something that I would definitely love to see more of in a sequel that continues Ryland’s treacherous journey in space. However, Weir has no plans to continue the 2021 Choice Award nominee series. In the meantime, I wholeheartedly recommend this compelling tale to everyone who enjoys the suspense of a mission to save humanity. 

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About the Contributors
Jio Kim, Writer
Jio Kim returns to the Jets Flyover writing team for a second year. She loves reading and almost anything that has to do with writing. With two strong leadership positions this year, Jio directs student council and NJHS. Cooperation and collaboration are her strong suits. Through Jets Flyover, Jio wants to continue writing engaging news stories and maybe even try writing a few book reviews.
Olivia Park, Illustrator
Olivia Park, a sixth grader at DIS, rises up to middle school with a passion for digital design. This year, she hopes to design inspiring and entertaining graphics for the Flyover and craft a portfolio to become a professional designer for a company some day. In her free time, she crochets and binge-watches her favorite TV show, “Alexa and Katie.”
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