I’m a big fan of The Martian – I watched the movie a few years back, promptly got the book, and loved it! I’ve rewatched the movie half a dozen times since then, too. So I kind of jumped on this new book almost immediately (or, like, as soon as the library would give it to me, and I wasn’t the only one requesting it…)
A lone astronaut must save the earth from disaster in this incredible new science-based thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Martian.
A lone astronaut.
An impossible mission.
An ally he never imagined.
Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission – and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.
Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.
All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.
His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery-and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.
Because it was such a get-automatically book for me, I did not really read the blurb beforehand… I wasn’t exactly surprised that the premise was similar to The Martian, albeit in a very different context. Your man Ryland is alone on a spaceship, having to science his way to survival… sounds pretty familiar. In this case, he’s not left behind, and he’s not trying to return to Earth, though. He’s on a one-way mission to another solar system, and his crewmates died in transit…
This novel was not as hilarious as The Martian was, it was just a slightly different tone I’d say (which makes sense, different characters, different point of views) but it was still quite funny at times, and engrossing. There’s still a lot of science, but I found it pretty accessible, and that’s the main thing for me to be able to follow what’s going on in that kind of book – and that’s also why I’d enjoyed The Martian so much, so I was glad that was also a recurring feature.
I really liked the way the past flashbacks were woven in as needed for context (though perhaps a bit too practical in some ways…) but without spoiling too much, my favourite part of all was Rocky, the “never imagined” ally hinted at in the blurb. The whole worldbuilding surrounding that part of the plot was absolutely amazing, I loved the character and I loved the relationship Ryland built with him (though Andy Weir missed a good opportunity to use they/them here and I was kind of annoyed by the assumption that of course the tiny astronaut engineer has GOT to be male right, male is default. *ahem* rant over)
<skip this paragraph if you don’t want spoilers> The one thing I was disappointed by was the “big reveal” close to the end, around why Grace has lost his memory, why he’s on the ship and not someone else, etc. It just felt completely out of character with what we know of him both past and present, and I feel like it was just a convenient way to give a plot reason as to why he had amnesia, where “4 years in a coma” could honestly have done it. And yer man is still angry that??? he was put on a mission to save Earth, when really he was the only real choice?? I wanted to yell at him to cut the crap.
Overall though it was a very satisfying read and I could hardly put down the book the whole time. I spent a few late nights reading it and I’m quite happy with the way the ending unfolded as well. I’ll likely grab a copy of Artemis when I can too.