When you have twenty-five books to review, you cry uncle and resort to short reviews. Plus, after all this time, I’m not certain I remember enough about any of them to write a full-length review. We will be breaking these into five parts. This is part three. There may be some spoilers within these short reviews; readers, consider this your warning.
The first thing you realize about Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir is that it does everything possible to remind you that this is not The Martian. Ryland Grace is the anti-Mark Watney. The most obvious differing characteristics which separate the two are the fact that Ryland is a microbiologist and a teacher, as well as a coward, and he doesn’t swear. At all. Whereas Mark used curse words to perfectly indicate his emotions, Ryland sounds exactly like what he is – a teacher who won’t say anything that might harm a child’s innocence. While he provides some semblance of entertainment, once Rocky enters the picture, Ryland becomes the sidekick. Rocky is hands-down the best part of the story, and their friendship makes you believe humanity is pretty damn good. As is true of most of Mr. Weir’s novels, there is more scientific discussion than plot, and it can get pretty esoteric and theoretical. Still, not understanding astrophysics won’t prevent anyone from enjoying this survival story.
The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis is nothing more than a mediocre story regarding vampires and vampire hunters. And just like almost every other vampire story, not all vampires and other baddies are all that bad just as not all of the perceived good guys are good. The story contains the typical red herrings and false clues to distract and drag the story forward. The main character is a bit too naive and too damn good to be an interesting character. In fact, all of the characters are one-dimensional. This is one vampire story that has no bite to it.
All hail, Queen Nora! Legacy is a fantastic story of family and strength. As always, she captures complicated family relationships so well. She is even better at portraying friends as family. Adding to that, she layers loss, the idea of blended families, and the importance of roots. I simply love Nora’s mind and the families she creates for us.
I really wanted to love The Ninth Metal by Benjamin Percy but just could not settle into it. The familial relationships are so convoluted and dysfunctional that they make for uncomfortable reading. To make matters worse, the story cannot decide whether it is a science fiction adventure, a mob story, political intrigue, a statement against capitalism, or something else. Because of this lack of clear identity, nothing is cohesive, and the story is simply too confusing to enjoy.
Deb Caletti does it again. In One Great Lie, Charlotte’s story comes with all the purposeful heartbreak one expects from Ms. Caletti. She excels at captures those sticky situations in which young women find themselves because they don’t have the life experiences to avoid them. In fact, this is one story I would make required reading for teens if only to show them just how easy it is for someone in a position of power to take advantage of someone else and silence their voice after the fact. At the same time, Ms. Caletti stresses the importance of the #metoo movement and its importance in reducing rape culture and the ongoing silence of victims. While watching all of this unfold through Charlotte’s eyes is as painful as you can imagine, One Great Lie is a must-read for anyone looking to be an ally for abuse victims.
Project Hail Mary is on my list now after so many have raved about it. I am one of those few who thought The Martian was okay.
I would describe The Martian as intense and adult-funny, while I see Project Hail Mary as charming and cute. There is some suspense but that is not the sole focus of the story.