I loved this book. It is extremely unique, detailed, interesting, and well thought out. All the details have been considered, and with great attention to detail.
It’s a scifi story about an imminent extinction event in our solar system, due to the sun dimming. (and ultimately: several solar systems.) The story revolves around the citizens of the planet rallying (though some not so willingly) to figure out first what is happening to the sun. And then in the race to find a solution before the climate on earth has cooled too much to save all life. Of course – the timeline is stress-fully barely possible. A possible ‘Maybe’.
5 STARS ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I was delighted with amount of thought and consideration the author put into creating the Alien – from physiology, to language, to culture, to the alien’s own solar system, planet, atmosphere, gravity, and more. Not a single detail was missed, in my mind.
And wow, was it interesting, and unique. I felt like this book was unlike anything I had read before. Which is a feat in itself! Creative new story ideas.
The writing was also top notch.
I especially enjoyed the quirkiness of our main human character – Rayland Grace, and his over-excessive non-use of foul language. The amount of ‘Dang-it’s!’ and many other creative not-curse word he utters is at first somewhat strange, but slides into pure entertainment, while never loosing it’s total oddity.
Normally I’ am not a huge fan of books that jump back and forth between ‘past’ events, and present. This book relied heavily on that – telling two stories at the same time, throughout. But it works, because the details are always interrelated. The ‘main’ story starts with Rayland waking up from stasis on the spaceship, coming into orbit at Tau Ceti. But he has no memory when he becomes conscious. Which allows the backstory/ other story line – the ‘past” few years leading up to the rocket launch, to be told in parallel. Every time he ‘remembers a bit of his mind, it’s a consistent, linear memory of ‘where it al started’ up to his present. It works, and actually quite well. I do wish the cutting back and forth was a little more delineated. I read this in ebook, so maybe it was formatting, but often there was no clear jump form one to the other, just the next paragraph, and you realize you’re back on the other story line. At some point.
Raylands’ character arc is also satisfying. Where, he starts, how he grows, and changes, and where he ends up. Well played, Andy Weir.
The real hook of the story though is Raylands’ interaction with an alien species, when he arrives at Tau Ceti. It’s beyond intriguing. The details are perfect. In my opinion , this is the real story. He makes first contact with a true, real alive, alien species. Who, it turns out, is in the same predicament. It’s crew all dies on the trip. It is alone on it’s ship. They also were there to try and save their solar system from the Astrophage, that is also dimming their sun. Rayland is alone on his ship, as the other two astronauts dies during stasis. They communicate, meet, learn to communicate, and ultimately – solve the problem together; hopefully saving their own civilizations.
The most surprise twist is the end. Raylands’ human ship only had enough fuel to reach Tau Ceti, and to send what they discover back to earth, on little drone ships. A suicide mission. Rocky’s ship was always meant to return home, and has an excess of fuel – more than enough to refuel Raylands’. He could potentially make it home to earth – but he likely doesn’t have enough food, since it was never planned.
But they try. They both head home, after success with the research, and success refueling Raylands’ ship. It’s bittersweet, but happy. Civilizations will continue to exist, because they did this thing together. Happy story. But then, there’s a problem! They both might die, the research might not reach the home planets. … naturally, like a good story teller, the author does not leave us hanging. It is all resolved. And in my opinion, in the best possible way. I loved it. The ending was perfection. It tied up every possible plot string, all the character arcs. There was just enough there that I really hope there’s a follow up book to this – so much more fun could be had. But at the same time – it’s a completely satisfactory ending, if that’s the end End.
Overall – one of the best books I’ve read in quite a while, between the superior writing, and the spectacular story telling, and the highly creative thoughts and ideas that bring it to life. I really hope it becomes a fantastic movie.