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Project Hail Mary Book Club Questions & Discussion Guide

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Did you find this book simply Amaze, Question? Did you love Rocky, Question? They definitely are one alien that you want to go out and have a beer with (if Eridians drank liquids). And in addition to your new favorite being from outer space, Project Hail Mary‘s other themes of lost in space, the nature of bravery, persistence and friendship add a lot of fodder for a great book club discussion.

Our Project Hail Mary book club questions will help you start up the spin drive for your discussion. Begin with the synopsis below. It’s really just a teaser. Was it enough to get you interested in the book, or did you need more? Then move on to our Project Hail Mary discussion guide which includes 10 questions, and some contradictory and thought provoking reviews.

And if you want to keep reading, then we also suggest 3 books like Project Hail Mary to add to your TBR pile.

Project Hail Mary Book Club Questions: Andy Weir book cover

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Project Hail Mary Synopsis

Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir

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.

And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone.

Or does he?

An irresistible interstellar adventure as only Andy Weir could deliver, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian—while taking us to places it never dreamed of going.

10 Project Hail Mary Book Club Questions

  1. Right from the beginning, Stratt trusts Grace. She gives him access to the first samples of Astrophage, she takes him to key meetings, she drags him along to the testing locations. And yet, he seemed perpetually baffled by her trust in him. What did she see in him that he couldn’t see in himself?
  2. “Ma’am. I’ll have to restrain you if you don’t comply.” “You and what army?” Stratt asked. Five armed men in military fatigues entered the courtroom and took up station around her. “Because I have the U.S. Army,” she said. “And that’s a damn fine army.” Stratt is given a great deal of leeway and power to make the project happen. How would you rank her badass-ness on a scale of 1-10? What about her integrity?
  3. In the book, the world comes together and pools its collective resources to solve the Astrophage problem. Weir finished the first draft in Jan/20 but the book wasn’t published until May/21, when the world was deep into COVID disruption and death. What did you think of how the nations came together in the book? Contrast that with your perceptions of how the world stage responded to COVID.
  4. Grace has to perform a lot of math in space. He’s running tests, he’s calculating some trajectory or another, he’s figuring out how much Astrophage and/or food he needs. Did you follow the math and science? And if you didn’t follow it, did it affect your experience of the book?
  5. What do you think of Weir’s decision to make Grace a science teacher?
  6. Grace and Rocky are intellectually well-matched, but they are physically so very different. What did you think of the choices that Weir made when creating Rocky’s physique, food/sleep needs, atmosphere and language?
  7. From Rocky, ‘”Good. Proud. I am scary space monster. You are leaky space blob.” He points to the breeder tanks. “Check tanks!”‘ This quote illustrates just one of the many ways that Rocky keeps Grace on task. What did you think of their friendship? Describe some of the ways that they kept one another motivated.
  8. When Grace’s memory fully kicks in, he (and we) are surprised to find that he had refused to go on the mission. Stratt simply Shanghaied him and shoved him onto the ship. How did you react to the twist? Did it change your feelings about Grace?
  9. Would you have turned the ship around to go and save Rocky? And once you had been on Erid for a while, would you have been itching for home?
  10. Who wins in a cage match between Mark Watney and Ryland Grace?

Selected Project Hail Mary Reviews

The book was great on audio and you can learn more in this Andy Weir interview on Audible.

“I know my overcooked brain cells don’t have enough capacity to absorb every complicated, detailed, elaborated scientific facts and fantastic world building which amazed me at least thousand times but I fell so hard, what I could understand which is enough for me to enjoy this book!”

“Science aside, this story is so much more. It is about hope and finding connections in the most unexpected of places. It’s overcoming fear and adversity. It’s digging deep within yourself, rising to the challenge, and becoming all that you are capable of.”

“…this book was not a success for me. It seemed to be too much centered in the science/math vein and I found myself wondering how a Junior High School teacher could achieve the prestige of being chosen for this mission. His “aw shucks” attitude also seemed to be a tad out of character for a man entrusted to save the planet.”

“…this is a surprisingly heartwarming for a story about a man who finds himself alone in space. Then again, so too was The Martian and therein lies one of my biggest problems with this book: it felt far too similar, but not quite as good.”

NEED BOOK CLUB IDEAS?
Use our guide to find dozens of book ideas for your group.

3 Books Like Project Hail Mary

The Sparrow Mary Doria Russell book cover

The Sparrow

by Mary Doria Russell

If you liked the ethical dilemmas presented by Project Hail Mary, then you should read The Sparrow.

When a listening post in Puerto Rico picks up what sounds like singing coming from another planet, the world dithers. But a group of Jesuits see it as a sign from God and they put together their own space mission to investigate. The First Contact goes wrong and the lone Jesuit who returns is subjected to some pretty brutal consequences.

The book touches on faith, what it means to be “human”, and just how much damage can be done by well-meaning people. The story is richly imagined and absolutely heartbreaking.


The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet Becky Chambers book cover

The Long Way to a Small and Angry Planet

by Becky Chambers

If you want some cross-species friends in space who have to get each other out of a pickle, then pick up The Long Way to a Small and Angry Planet.

When Rosemary Harper joins the ragtag crew of the Wayfarer, she was just looking for a job and a place to lay low. But what she got was a new found-family from a diverse set of species. The crew sets off on what they hope will be a lucrative, but dangerous contract to tunnel a new wormhole. But of course, things go sideways.

The book features surprising emotional depth from its strong female lead, and the cast of gender-fluid characters. If you like it, you can continue on with the other books in the Wayfarers series.


The Last Policeman Ben H. Winters book cover

The Last Policeman

by Ben H. Winters

This speculative police procedural by Winters isn’t set in space. But it does tackles themes like humanity on the brink and the nature of responsibility.

Asteroid 2011GV1 is hurtling toward earth, yielding the power of a thousand Hiroshima bombs. We are doomed. People are freaking out and walking off the job, and governments are in chaos. But police detective Henry Palace feels compelled to continue to do his job. When he’s called to the site of a suicide, he suspects murder and sets out to investigate.

It’s a great noir-y read with a pre-apocalyptic twist. It’s also part of a series, so if you like the first, keep reading.

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