Full disclosure: The Martian is my favorite book, maybe ever, so I’m coming into this review with a fair bit of bias. That said, in my opinion Project Hail Mary is a worthy follow-up to The Martian, with the same kind of humor, heart, high stakes, and rock-solid science.
Here’s the gist (without spoilers): Dr. Ryland Grace wakes up alone and confused in a spaceship (the eponymous Hail Mary) VERY far from Earth. He’s lost his memory, and his two crewmates died in suspended animation. It’s up to him to figure out exactly who he is, how he got there, what the ship’s mission is, and how he can complete it on his own. And he’d better hurry, because all of life on Earth is at stake.
If that sounds intense, it is – but Grace also makes jokes and laughs as much as he can, while not shying away from the huge responsibility, sacrifice, and loss he’s facing. I really thought this book was effective for several reasons: first, the science. As in The Martian, this book’s science reads to me like plausible and real explanations and solutions. It felt like a book that Weir had a lot of fun writing, with a ton of research to back him up. Second, the character of Ryland Grace was very well done; his emotions, backstory, and feelings of being overwhelmed, repeatedly, make him a relatable narrator that you root for to succeed, while his humor and determination keep the action moving forward at an addictive pace. Third, the narrative structure worked really well. If you’ve ever seen the DC TV show Arrow, you might recognize the strategic use of flashbacks to reveal key information at just the right time. Weir moves carefully and explicitly between Grace’s struggle in the present and all the events in the past that culminated in his being on the ship. It all works together brilliantly to create a story you’ll laugh your way through and won’t want to put down, right up to the very unexpected final pages.
Highly recommended for those who loved The Martian, Cast Away, and other lone-survivor stories of sci-fi or adventure, this is a book which will tug at your heartstrings and stretch your imagination to dazzling new heights.
Figuring out who you are as a person is a never-ending process, one that changes as you age. While most people have a solid base of who they are, others seem to flit from job to job, friend to friend, place to place. What would you do if you lost the very essence of yourself? Catherine Steadman discusses this topic in her newest book Mr Nobody.
A man is found on a British beach with no identification and unable to speak. He is drifting in and out of consciousness, has no identifying characteristics, and seems to have appeared out of nowhere. Public interest in this mystery man immediately peaks with everyone wanting to know who he is. To give him a name, the press dubs him ‘Mr. Nobody’. Taken to a hospital and run through an initial battery of tests, hospital staff and medical experts try to figure out a course of treatment to bring Mr. Nobody’s life back to him.
Considered one of the experts in her field, neuropsychiatrist Dr. Emma Lewis has spent her career waiting for a case like Mr. Nobody’s. Called in to assess the patient, Emma is initially thrilled because this case has the power to make her name known. As soon as she realizes where she has to go, Emma freezes. She left that small town tucked deep inside English countryside fourteen years ago. Emma hasn’t been back since. She has worked hard to hide all traces of her past in those past fourteen years. Going back will dredge up all those painful memories and will put her family in danger again. Something is calling her back though and Emma can’t resist the pull of Mr. Nobody’s case.
As soon as she shows up back in town, Emma realizes that all her efforts to conceal her past were pointless. This small town hasn’t changed much and the people that were there fourteen years ago are still there. Pushing through those bad memories, Emma starts working with her team to create a treatment plan to help Mr. Nobody. The more time Emma spends with him, the more she realizes that he knows more about her and other hospital staff than she should. The fact that he knows about what happened to her fourteen years ago instantly send up alarm bells since no one should know about that. Mr. Nobody must be hiding something.
This book is also available in the following formats:
On Wednesday July 8th at 2pm, the Virtual Book Club will be discussing The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney. Information about how to join the book club is listed below! We are using GoTo Meeting which will allow patrons to video chat with the librarian about the book.
Want to know what The Perfect Wife is about before you read the book? Check out the following description provided by the publisher:
A missing woman receives a second chance at life, thanks to her billionaire husband–but the consequences are deadly in this gripping psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Before. Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s an icon of the tech world, the founder of a lucrative robotics company. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago, and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss. She is a miracle of science. But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives–and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to Abbie half a decade ago?
This book is also available in the following formats:
Wed, Jul 8, 2020 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (CDT)
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Guest post by Laura V
I remember seeing the original Overboard movie starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn when it was released. I thought it was entertaining but not remarkable enough for a reboot so I was surprised to learn it was remade. This version stars Eugenio Derbez as Leonardo Montenegro and Anna Faris as Kate Sullivan. As far as I remember, it was basically the same plot with reversal of roles, Derbez plays the rich guy and Sullivan plays the poor woman. Eva Longoria plays Kate’s best friend, Theresa, and Mel Rodriguez plays her husband, Bobby.
I recently watched How to be a Latin Lover starring Derbez and was disappointed. There was potential for that movie to make fun of stereotypes and it was squandered at every turn while reinforcing some negative stereotypes along the way. Overboard was better. While it had the predictability that everyone should expect from a remake of an original that wasn’t highbrow cinematography to begin with, it took a huge chance, culturally speaking. To me, that was enough to make it interesting.
We got to see the family to which Derbez’ character belongs speaking Spanish with English subtitles. Yes, they are millionaires who are basically the telenovela (soap opera) portion of the movie, but their over-the-top drama is what makes them absurdly entertaining, just like actual TV telenovelas. They couldn’t have been a more realistic wealthy family because then the story wouldn’t have had the material for the plot. I also enjoyed seeing the more authentic portrayal of Latinos with the banter among the construction workers on Bobby’s job site. The romance felt a bit forced. I felt the daughters developed more of a relationship with Derbez’ character than Faris’ character.
If you’re looking for a lighthearted romp with the courage to include characters of color with their culture still intact, I recommend this movie.
What Alice Forgot is a great novel for audio, due in large part to the wonderful narrator, Caroline Lee.
Lee’s lilting, open Australian accent is critical to understanding Alice’s character. The 1998 Alice is wonderfully innocent, quirky and enthusiastically in love with her husband.
The 2008 amnesiac Alice, who is living ten years in the past, is, in her own mind, still that person. She gradually begins to put together the puzzle of her new identity. To the listener, it’s almost like a mystery. You wonder who the new Alice is and how she got that way. Like Alice, you’re also relying on what people are telling Alice, and no more. Both Alice and the reader/listener are frustrated when it seems other people are withholding information.
Liane Moriarty’s breezy style keeps the story light, while delving into the darker sides of Alice and her family’s journey over the last decade. Life has gone on; there have been births, deaths and marriages. Alice confesses to her sister that she has no idea how to feed and take care of her children, or any children for that matter. She speculates that a diet of sausages would probably be popular.
Elizabeth, her older sister, is a great foil; she had always been Alice’s protector and support which allowed Alice to be the funny, spacey one. One of the mysteries is why they had grown apart. The many well-drawn characters make this rather long audiobook absorbing to the end.
As soon as I saw this book described as “The Bourne Identity meets The X-Men”, I knew I had to read it. In The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) Thomas wakes up on a rainy street in London, having clearly been beaten to a pulp. The bigger problem? She has no idea who she is. Luckily her past self was prepared for this to happen, because in her jacket pocket Myfanwy finds a letter that directs her to a bank, where she will have two choices: safe deposit box #1 contains lots of money and everything she needs for a new identity, and safe deposit box #2 contains information about who she is and what happened to her. After being attacked for a second time, Myfanwy opts to learn the secrets of safe deposit box #2: she is part of a secret government organization called The Chequy, comprised of British citizens with supernatural abilities, working together to protect the country from its more unusual threats. Moreover, past-Myfanwy is certain that a fellow member of The Chequy is the one who ordered the attack on her. With nothing but a big stack of letters from her past self, Myfanwy must protect the country from imminent danger all while trying to protect herself from a threat close to home.
This was a really fun concept for a book, and I liked the main character a lot. She’s really snarky and funny, particularly when she’s re-learning about her powers or trying to cover up the fact that she’s lost her memory (and doing a poor job at it). However, I almost didn’t finish this book because it’s a LOT longer than it needs to be. Much of the first half moves pretty slowly with at least one subplot that could have easily been disposed of. Luckily things picked up at the halfway point, and I couldn’t help but tear through it all the way to the exciting end.
submitted by Sarah W
What would it be like to feel no pain? Not just the absence of paper cuts and bumped knees, but the absence of guilt or shame? Would it be a blessing or a curse?
Sean Ferrell explores the possibilities in his book, appropriately titled, Numb. His main character, an amnesiac, is found wandering around by a traveling circus. When asked who he is, he replies, “I’m…numb.” The name sticks, especially after he unknowingly nails his hand to a wood structure and can’t pull free.
His condition is taken for talent and without conscious effort or desire, Numb becomes the star act in the circus and then in New York, where he – or rather his numbness – acquires an agent, a fan following, a lot of people who want to make him their personal cash cow…and a girlfriend who would be his salvation – if he can just find the courage to feel…
The New York Times says Numb is a statement about media bombardment, fame in the Internet Age, and a culture in which instant gratification takes far too long.
Maybe. But I also say it’s a fascinating read.