I loved this book. I loved it so much I wanted to read it again it immediately after I finished it. I was so invested in the book/world that I didn’t want it to end and that I wanted a sequel, even though the storyline ties up all neatly at the end.
The book is about a last ditch project to save Earth. There’s an alien life form eating the sun at an alarming rate and scientists discover one star that isn’t affected. The Hail Mary is to go out to that star, figure out why this life form isn’t eating it, and send the information back to Earth.
Ryland Grace is a junior high science teacher. He’s the one that discovers how to kill this sun-eating stuff and how to reproduce it. His involvement in the project is not exactly voluntary, but his desire to learn and use science drives him to keep going. Ryland wakes up on the Hail Mary with no memory of how he got there or why. Information is revealed to him, and the reader, in satisfying bursts of memories.
During the journey, another alien makes contact with him. This alien, who he names ‘Rocky’, is an engineer. His whole crew died during their journey to Tau Ceti, as did Ryland’s other two crewmates, and he’s been left alone to try to figure out how to stop his own star from being eaten. Together, they learn how to communicate and figure out a way to save both stars.
Every bit of this book, every line of text, is packed with information. The author uses a lot, and I mean a lot of science-y terms but it’s phrased in a way that I could understand almost all of it. Brilliant work, to make so much jargon understandable and even interesting.
The book has a great deal of humour as well. It never felt forced or overdone though. Instead it was light and immersive and kept me firmly in Ryland’s head the entire time.
Was the story contrived? Yes, of course. All books are, that would be the purpose of books. I did think that it was a bit convenient that Ryland met Rocky and helped him through it. I also thought it was a bit convenient that Ryland lost his memory, it felt a bit like the author needed a way to explain everything to the reader. These are very minor points though. I noticed them, yes, but I (mostly) forgave them because I was hooked from the first word.
I would recommend this book to everyone. Anyone. All people who like books. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some time to read it again before returning it to the library.