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Project Fail Mary

September 9, 2022 at 10:00:00 AM

Kevin Hang '24

It’s a summer evening, and I’ve just finished about three hours of playing video games after waking up. I decided, “Hey, since it’s two days away from school starting, I should maybe start reading the community read.” I looked at the front page. It’s Andy Weir. I think I know this guy from somewhere, but I’m not sure from where; maybe I’ll enjoy this book. Oh, how severely mistaken I was.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am now using it to prop my computer up to eye level. My disdain for this book, however, I feel isn’t necessarily unwarranted, as I’ve spoken to a few other people who largely share the same sentiment.

Project Hail Mary started off fairly interestingly. An astronaut slowly discovers that he is in a spaceship alone, using only deductive reasoning and his memory. Wait a minute, a spaceman alone in space? Hey, that sounds familiar… Anyway, after realizing that his dead crewmates were Russian and Chinese respectively, my stomach churned.

“Oh, it’s one of those books,” I said aloud. It’s one of those, American man saves the space day books. Cool!

For a school that flaunts its internationalism, it’s strange to be assigned such an American centric book - one that stereotypes its Russian astronaut as a drunk and an addict, while also stereotyping its Chinese astronaut as a stoic, non-speaking commander, both caricatures of their motherlands. Thank god for the academically disgraced American underdog who swoops in after his international crewmates lay shriveled up and useless.

The grade specific summer readings didn’t spare us from the idealized, glorious America, either. 10th-grader Taimur Rehman shared his opinion on the 10th grade book, Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card, “I’m not a big fan of it’s over dramatization of parts of the immigrant struggle, but mainly I don’t like it’s wording; it seems like it’s trying to appeal to the reader almost too much.” The book is a pretty broad generalization of tens of millions of people and is also just an overdramatization of immigrant issues in America.

Finally my main gripe with Project Hail Mary also applies to this book, the issue being that it places America on a pedestal while demonizing other countries. While Unbroken, the 11th grade summer reading book, was a gruesome story about the reality of wartime, it still managed to push in the pompous gospel of Christianity.

While my main issue with the summer reading books is the fact that they all amplified the extremely flawed glory of America, Project Hail Mary, the book itself also sucked. It was entirely too wordy, downright boring at times, and just felt like another fan-fiction that Andy Weir wanted to write for himself. Andy Weir? More like Andy Weird.

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