Author to Read, Science-Fiction

Why You Should Read Andy Weir’s Books

I’ll start by saying I’m not addressing his graphic novel. Haven’t read it and don’t plan to, as I feel I’m not the intended audience for it. However, his other three books, “The Martian”, “Artemis” and “Project Hail Mary” are, all in all, a delight. Let me get into the details.

“The Martian” is Andy Weir’s debut novel. Let’s start there. For a debut novel, it is absolutely amazing! One can only wish to write like that, especially coming from a totally different background. I find it so interesting he passed from being a computer programmer to becoming a full-time writer. Who does that? This in itself is a major accomplishment. Also, after having watched ALL his interviews, I have to say Andy Weir is such a fascinating person, a great and funny conversation partner. I dare anyone to get bored with him around and certainly his personality is reflected in his books!

However, what I found even more admirable is the fact that his writing evolved. To have such a success and then go back and write some more and write better and better is fantastic. His main characters become more and more complex, with each novel. The science stuff is so well researched and shows his passion from the first novel to the last, but the way it’s presented becomes even more captivating in his latest novel, “Project Hail Mary”. This is not by chance, of course, he himself confesses in interviews that he strives to get better at writing. He does that by exploring new ways to add depth to character building and by trying to make the stories as gripping as possible and I honestly think it shows.

All in all, if you haven’t read anything by Andy Weir, I recommend reading the novels in the order of their appearance (they are not at all related, but you’ll appreciate his evolution as a writer more). However, if you only want to read one of them, I think “Project Hail Mary” is his best work so far, and from my point of view, ages above the other two.

I’ll talk about each one spoiler free, of course. Feel free to skip to the one you’re interested in:

  1. The Martian
  2. Artemis
  3. Project Hail Mary

1. The Martian

1.1. The Martian Synopsis (spoiler- free, of course)

Mark Watney is a NASA engineer who, during a mission abort, accidentally remains stranded alone on Mars. Luckily, he still has a few reserves of food and water and is capable of surviving for a while in the mission’s Hab, NASA’s base on Mars.

As expected, alone in an inhospitable environment, he has many hurdles to overcome. Due to his knowledge as a botanist and an engineer, he manages to surpass most of them and even succeeds in making a small crop of potatoes to extend his rations until help will come.

All the while, his crew mates and NASA think he’s dead until Mindy Park, an employee in charge of satellite images, realizes Mark is alive and alone on Mars. Mark then becomes the focus of the entire Earth’s news cycles and everyone bounds together to help him come home.

Yes, of course duct tape works in a near vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.

Andy Weir, The Martian

1.2. The Martian Main Theme

The Martian has interesting themes (Coping with Loneliness, Coping with Difficulties, Science, Media), but the most important one is the Fight for Survival. Mark Watney is relentless in wanting to live. He doesn’t let anything deter him and thinks about his problems until he finds a solution for them. He tackles all his difficulties in incremental steps that he can control and overcome. He uses all his knowledge to think outside the box. He doesn’t give up even faced with impossibility. His desire to survive is what makes him keep going. He doesn’t wait for miracles, but goes out and does his best with what he has. He is confident no matter what.

I loved that. Not losing hope in dire circumstances is incredibly inspiring and uplifting. And it makes me, as a reader, think… “Well, if he can do That, what is it in my life that I find so impossible?”…and I love a book that makes me feel this way! It definitely beats any self-help book on that front!

I started the day with some nothin’ tea. Nothin’ tea is easy to make. First , get some hot water, then add nothin’.

Andy Weir, The Martian

1.3. The Martian Main Character

Mark Watney is an inspiration, a true role model, the perfect hero. He uses his intelligence and knowledge to face harsh conditions. But more importantly, in my view, and I think it’s something not even the author realizes exactly, he teaches us how journaling helps cope with everything. It is through journaling that he breaks big problems into small, workable ones and processes his thoughts and fears so they don’t seem big anymore. This is the way he remains sane and connected to the world.

Sure, it helps as a writing technique to move the plot along and make expositions. One might also say it is required of him to make mission logs, but, in the end, the result is he keeps a journal of his endeavors, of everything good and bad. And as entertaining as that is, it is also a great skill to model. As Mark Watney becomes a hero for the young, to be able to teach this way of coping, it is incredibly useful.

That is why I find it wonderful “The Martian” has an edited school version for children, suitable for 12 year olds. Mark Watney’s intelligence and coping skills make him perfect as a children’s role model.

That being said, my only problem with this book is I feel Mark doesn’t evolve at all as a character. He is unrealistically perfect from beginning to end. That is why I think “Project Hail Mary” is a way better novel – the protagonist is flawed, but learns from his mistakes.

Maybe I’ll post a consumer review.

“Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”

Andy Weir, The Martian

1.4. The Martian – Why You Should Read It

All in all, “The Martian” is a wonderful book, bursting with passion for science and adventures. It is a great motivational story and perfect for when you’re in the mood for something inspirational about overcoming hardships, loaded with realistic science and, obviously, on a Mars setting.

I guess you could call it a “failure”, but I prefer the term “learning experience”.

Andy Weir, The Martian

2. Artemis

This book is a sci-fi because “Artemis” is a city on the moon. That comes with its own problems but the book is even more than that. In fact, it deals with money, mafia, crime- all worldly stuff. That is actually the great thing about science-fiction – it can be combined with anything and makes any other story even more interesting!

So… a city on the moon. We add to that a deeply flawed heroine and …instant best – seller? Well…not so much. I really can’t understand why, but it never reached the fame of “The Martian”. I enjoyed it and find it’s even better than “The Martian”- action and character wise, but that is not the popular opinion. You’ll just have to read it and see for yourself.

2.1. Artemis Synopsis (spoiler free, of course)

Jazz (Jasmine Bashira) is a 26 year-old courier in Artemis, a corrupt courier. She helps smuggle various things on the moon city. Though very smart, her life choices seem to have brought her in a precarious financial situation. That is why, when she is approached to sabotage Sanchez Aluminium, she quickly accepts the job. This leads her in incredibly dangerous situations, as “the job” is not as simple as it first seems. The book is plot driven, so expect numerous good twists.

2.2. Artemis Main Theme

“Artemis” approaches themes like friendship, father-daughter relationship and morality, but I would say the most important one is the coming-of-age. Jazz is a messed-up heroine, full of regrets about ruining the relationship with her father. When she gets to risk her life for a job, she is forced to mature and then tries to make amends.

2.3. Artemis Main Character

Jazz, as the author himself confesses, is a female version of himself at 26, complete with his own flaws. She is very intelligent, but doesn’t apply herself. She is rebellious and often gets into trouble. She doesn’t like to ask for help, though she badly needs guidance. She doesn’t trust those around her unless she has no choice.

The book is built around her evolution as a person, as a daughter and as a friend. She starts with an interesting morality – she would never cheat on those she does business with, but the nature of the business is dubious, more often than not. She loves her father and feels guilty she is not a better daughter, but doesn’t really keep in touch with him, nor does she share her troubles with him, unless she has to.

She is not a very agreeable character, but I feel that makes her all the more interesting. Though Andy Weir can certainly improve on writing a female character, I enjoyed watching Jazz getting out of trouble. The action and plot of the book makes everything worthwhile.

2.4. Artemis – Why you should read it

If you’re in the mood for an action-packed sci-fi set on the moon, with a female lead coming of age, “Artemis” is the book for you. It is sufficiently humorous , with a fast pace and so many twists, you’ll finish it in no time.

3. Project Hail Mary

“Project Hail Mary” is Andy Weir’s latest book and the best so far. Like all of his books, it is wonderfully infused with a great deal of science, most of it real. His passion for solving problems, out of the box thinking and love of speculating are all present and make up for a perfect read!

When stupid ideas work, they become genius ideas.

Andy Weir, Project Hail Mary

3.1. Project Hail Mary – Synopsis (Spoiler- free, of course)

Ryland Grace wakes up on a ship, not remembering anything about himself, nor why he’s there. His crew mates are all dead. As his memory slowly comes back, he realizes he’s on a mission to save Earth. Alone, without his crew, light years away from home, it all seems impossible, but he doesn’t have much choice. Without him, the world is doomed.

Human beings have a remarkable ability to accept the abnormal and make it normal.

Andy Weir, Project Hail Mary

3.2. Project Hail Mary – Main Theme

Though “Project Hail Mary” has a number of interesting themes (like collaboration, friendship, survival), most cannot be disclosed without spoilers. However, the main one, I think, is self-sacrifice. Ryland Grace gets to the point where he is willing to die to save Earth. Most people aren’t capable of that. His courage, even though it’s not his first instinct, is very realistically portrayed.

Another important part of the book is how the mission was started in the first place. The memories of that appear to Ryland slowly, throughout the book. It’s fascinating how Andy Weir envisioned a planetary collaboration in order to make the mission possible. The way it’s written made me long for a continuation of all the social and political problems the world was left to face with while waiting for the mission’s outcome.

We’re as smart as evolution made us. So we’re the minimum intelligence needed to ensure we can dominate our planets.

Andy Weir, Project Hail Mary

3.3. Project Hail Mary – Main Character

Unlike the main characters in his previous books, Ryland Grace is neither perfect, nor disagreeable. He is flawed, but is willing to evolve. He is a happy, modest science teacher, but is up to the task when he is truly needed to step in and be a hero. He learns to become better and that makes him a lovable character. I find Andy Weir’s evolution as a writer incredible just by the way of his portrayal of Ryland Grace.

He is also funny and incredibly smart. Ryland is the perfect role model, as was Mark Watney before him, but, more than Mark, Ryland Grace is portrayed in a more complex way, faced with a multitude of situations that teach him to become more courageous and a better friend.

But I have to save humanity first. Stupid humanity. Getting in the way of my hobbies.

Andy Weir, Project Hail Mary

3.4. Project Hail Mary – Why You Should Read It

If you’re in the mood for a sci-fi, full of accurate science, very well written, with engaging, funny and entertaining characters and which even manages to be thought provoking, “Project Hail Mary” is it. One of the best things about it is that it’s filled with BIG questions and best- guess suppositions of the answers. Can’t say anything more and I also advise to go in blind, do not read more about it, let yourself be surprised. You’re in for a treat!

3.5. Project Hail Mary – Did you know?

3.5.1. Project Hail Mary is going to be a movie!

“Project Hail Mary”, the movie, is already in development. The role of Ryland Grace is going to be played by Ryan Gosling and Andy Weir is among the producers! Can’t wait for that to happen!

3.5.2. Project Hail Mary to have a sequel?

“Project Hail Mary” is a stand alone novel for now, but Andy Weir mentioned in his interviews he would love to continue the book, especially because his fans seem to want it very much. That would be a wonderful news!

3.5.3. Project Hail Mary – age recommendation

“Project Hail Mary” is officially recommended for ages 14+. It doesn’t have swearing in it. Ryland Grace is a science school teacher – the perfect model for young teenagers. The science simply makes you want to learn more and more (I’m a 34 year-old woman and regret not learning more Chemistry and Physics to understand everything better. It would have made me a lot more willing to learn these in school, had I read it back then).

4 thoughts on “Why You Should Read Andy Weir’s Books”

  1. All 3 were good; would LOVE to see Artemis as a movie.
    Project Hail Mary (Long pass)
    was a very good book & I had already recommended it
    before learning that a movie is in the works.

    Liked by 1 person

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