The Wanderers by Meg Howrey

The Wanderers

Meg Howrey

Probing just how well we can ever know ourselves, or hope to know somebody else, The Wanderers gets at the heart of what it means to be human--even when we're millions of miles from home.

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A brilliantly inventive novel about three astronauts training for the first-ever mission to Mars, an experience that will push the boundary between real and unreal, test their relationships, and leave each of them—and their families—changed forever.
“A transcendent, cross-cultural, and cross planetary journey into the mysteries of space and self....Howrey’s expansive vision left me awestruck.”—Ruth Ozeki

“Howrey's exquisite novel demonstrates that the final frontier may not be space after all.”—J. Ryan Stradal

In an age of space exploration, we search to find ourselves.
In four years, aerospace giant Prime Space will put the first humans on Mars. Helen Kane, Yoshihiro Tanaka, and Sergei Kuznetsov must prove they’re the crew for the historic voyage by spending seventeen months in the most realistic simulation ever created. Constantly observed by Prime Space’s team of "Obbers," Helen, Yoshi, and Sergei must appear ever in control. But as their surreal pantomime progresses, each soon realizes that the complications of inner space are no less fraught than those of outer space. The borders between what is real and unreal begin to blur, and each astronaut is forced to confront demons past and present, even as they struggle to navigate their increasingly claustrophobic quarters—and each other. 

Astonishingly imaginative, tenderly comedic, and unerringly wise, The Wanderers explores the differences between those who go and those who stay, telling a story about the desire behind all exploration: the longing for discovery and the great search to understand the human heart.

Advance Galley Reviews

A good book with excellent plot line and beautiful characters.

This book is the story of three astronauts chosen to go on a simulation trip to Mars, in preparation for a real trip in the future. It is also, though, the story of the family members left behind during the simulation, and their relationships with the astronauts. Each chapter is written from a different character's view point, and while in some books this is distracting, Howrey manages to perfect the art of it. Each character is distinct, their growth and changes during the 18 months very much their own. I am typically not a fan of books where the ending is not...a complete ending, but in this particular book it felt like it was the only way to end the book. I found myself, towards the end, fearing the moment when all the answers to questions would come...and that sort of goes against what the rest of the book depicts.

3.5 stars. Three astronauts embark on a simulated journey to Mars. This character-driven novel explores the nature of self and our relationships with each other. To some extent, all the characters live in simulated environments. Regardless of reality, all the emotions awakened by their experiences are very real. One doesn't have to travel to space to experience the unknown. The most unexamined territory is not within the simulation, but within themselves.

As I read Meg Howrey's novel, "The Wanderers", I found myself slipping into another world where characters on a mission to Mars are brought to life. Her novel reads like a series of short stories that interrupt each other and wander in and out of the story illustrating the space traveling characters and their relationships with each other and their families. We are introduced to Helen and her actress daughter who always feels overshadowed by her amazing astronaut mother. We also get to know cosmonaut Sergei and his growing relationship with his remarried ex-wife and his two teenage sons learning to live in America. The third astronaut, Yoshi, struggles with deciding what he really wants in his marriage. As the three prepare for space travel, Meg describes their growing interdependence in the crowded space module and gives an introspective description of the type of person that craves unknown adventures in the name of science.

I loved this book. Typically this would not be my usual fare but I think that Helen's story, in particular, just sucked me in. It is a great science fiction novel about three astronauts who are chosen to live on Mars. They each bring with them their respective talents and their psychological baggage. To a certain extent I think that the natural inclination would be to compare it to Andy Weir's The Martian, but I think that this novel is very different. The characters are very different from the Martian's central character and lack to a large sense the humor that drives The Martian. Still a worthwhile reD.

I enjoyed this novel, even though it was a bit slow-paced. The storyline was intriguing and the characters were relateable.

A slow-moving psychological exploration of how a Mars expedition would impact both the astronauts and their families back on earth. I jumped at the chance to read and review this, as I loved other space exploration books and thought one focusing on psychology would be incredibly interesting. Instead, I found it lagged. I found the characters varied on the spectrum of how likable they were, with most of them falling clearly in the "not" side of things. It started off strong, but then found the momentum petered out. I gave up about a third of the way through.

"The Wanderers" was well-written and I can understand how some people might like it. I did not personally enjoy the reality of what was happening being in question and the twists and turns of existential psychological drama. It is a credit to Meg Howrey that the story was mentally uncomfortable in a way that was unpleasant for me. I can imagine somebody else really getting into the story but it was not for me. Thanks to Penguin's First to Read for providing me with this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey seemed like a book that was going to be right up my alley. Unfortunately, it was a slow-paced novel with too many perspectives. The novel focuses on three astronauts that are spending 17 months in a simulation of a Mars exploration. The rest of the novel shows the psychological effects of the astronauts and their families while they are in simulation and, for me, it just dragged on and on. Overall, it was not a bad book but will probably not be one that I pick up again.

"The Wanderers" is a character-driven novel of three astronauts who spend 17 months together in a simulation of an expedition to Mars. The story explores the psychological effects of this simulated mission on both the astronauts and their family members left behind. Being an introspective character study rather than an action-packed story, there were parts of the book that were a bit slow, but overall I enjoyed reading it.

I will have to be honest, which may sound a bit harsh but there is not a nice way to say this. Just not a good book. I can read almost anything but it was a struggle to force my way to the end. Too many characters here and while some would say too much going on, the problem is that what is going on is dull and (maybe unimportant?)oo difficult to keep up with all the '' extra'' characters. I painfully pushed to the halfway mark hoping for it to go somewhere but instead I felt like jumping off a cliff (like the story somewhat does) sorry but just not a good read.

I ordered this book completely by accident, so I did not have any particular expectations of it - but I'm glad I did. The book follows three astronauts who are chosen to train by doing a real-time simulation in the Utah desert of a mission to Mars. The book follows the three astronauts and three of their family members during the months of the simulation. The beauty of the book is in the minute observation of the astronaut's personalities and how they react to the increasing strains of the mission, and in the complications of their familial relationships. The plot twist, when it comes, has been so heavily foreshadowed that it's kind of screamingly obvious - and the only surprise to me was that it wasn't equally obvious to the characters. Still, a fascinating book and well worth the read.

I really wish I chose to read this book before another slow moving one. The first couple of chapters that I did read were fascinating. I ended up pre-ordering the book so I wouldn't have to rush through trying to read it in the remaining time period.

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey is huge. I don't know what to say about it except it is a must-read for lovers of science fiction and fantasy. It is full of action and adventure. But it does not end there. The psychological aspect of the story and the exploration of family life is also wonderfully done.

I will admit I had to convince myself to read this book and was unsuccessful at finishing it before pub date. It wasn't exactly attention grabbing. I did appreciate the psychological aspects of it. Not sure how I would handle being put into a simulator for a year and a half. So I tried to keep that perspective in mind while reading this. I wish the book would have stuck with the 3 crew members. The fact that we have to cycle through everyone's kids and wife is just exhausting. Most times they seemed... irrelevant. I can see that it tried to paint the whole picture, but it was too much. Honestly, I enjoy psychological stories; just not sure I love this one in print. I found myself wondering how long before I'm finished. A race to simply finish makes the reading experience uninspiring. Bleh. I will try the last portion of the book on audio. See if it is a better format for this story.

The premise, cover, and marketing led me to read The Wanderers by Meg Howrey. Unfortunately, the book suffers from two things. First because of the number perspectives, it becomes difficult to track the different storylines or to fully vest in any of the characters. Second, this book described as Station Eleven meets The Martian suffers from its own marketing. It is like neither book, and sadly, I end up not the right reader for this book. Read my complete review at Reviewed for NetGalley & Penguin First to Read.

I really liked the concept of the book, but didn't actually get it finished before my preview expired. I thought that I had until March 14th to post my review, but when I tried to view it last night to get working on it again, my download had expired. Also, the reason I was going so slow with this book was largely due to the format. I could only download it on my phone, not my Kindle, and it was tiny and I couldn't make the font larger. So I could only read it when I was at home where I keep my magnifying glass. I am pretty sure I would have finished the book a lot faster if I wasn't having to fight to read it. My review only relates to the first third of the book. The premise was very interesting. The concept of having astronauts training for a mission in seclusion on Earth was interesting. The selection process and the individual characters were all well done. I liked the diversity and the trio's backstories. But then we got to the rather slow, plodding pacing of the plot. I was interested in the state of Sergei's relationship with his kids, with Helen's teen daughter, all of their romantic lives (or lack thereof). But we got entirely too bogged down in setting it up, that it wasn't really driving me to move forward. I was expecting a little more action, thinking maybe this was "The Martian" with an international trio instead of just Mark Whaley. But, we spent almost all of the focus on talking about the past, rather than anything that was actually going on. Some day I will check it out of the library and finish. Probably. But I'm not in a huge hurry.

Are astronauts drawn to space because they feel that they look better from a distance than up close? It's an interesting question and not something I had considered before. Certainly these three astronauts feel a barrier between themselves and their closest loved ones. This is definitely a character study rather than a story. They aren't even on a real space trip, but rather a simulation of a trip. I liked each of the people portrayed, but can certainly understand those readers who found it slow. This is a journey of the mind, not of space.

The book started off slowly due to the nature of the revolving narrator. At first, this made it hard to get excited about the story, but in the end, it was a good mechanism to allow for both a deep construction of each character and to leave both the characters and the story open-ended. Sometimes Yoshi's character, for example, would speculate about Helen's actions, and then we'd hear Helen's side of it later. At other times, you'd hear maybe Helen's perspective of Sergei, but not hear Sergei's side. This seemed to fit with the theme of the story, that nothing is completely knowable or conquerable, and even the twist near the end is left as merely a possibility.

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey was a book I was very excited to read. The comparison to The Martian by Andy Weir was one of the reasons why my expectations were so high. However, it wasn’t the sole reason why I was looking forward to this book. The synopsis sounded really cool. My main problem was that I honestly could not get into The Wanderers. I tried for a little over a week before I gave in and just put the book aside, which was a shame because I wanted to love this one. I thought this book would have focused more on the seventeen month long simulated training experience the crew would undergo. However, The Wanderers felt more like a literary approach to science fiction, and the part I did read focused a lot on the individual lives of the characters. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but there were so many perspectives being introduced that I couldn’t really get interested in the larger themes of the story, i.e. the simulated mission to Mars. This copy of the book was provided by Penguin First to Read for this review, thank you!

I was bored for the first half of this book. It dragged so much but I didn't give up. This story is more about the minds of the people and families involved than anything else. I was expecting something exciting to happen but was disappointed when nothing did.

This is a detailed psychological, personality and mental evaluation of three people who are chosen to take the first manned space flight to Mars. We are subjected to a thorough exam of each of their strengths and weaknesses as well as those of their family members who will be left behind during the mission. Upon finishing this book, I got the feeling that the space travel aspect was incidental to the psych evaluation study. The setting could be swapped out for any other intense, dangerous, close-quarters situation: test pilots, Navy SEALS, Swat teams, etc. It is not a quick read, you need to be able to invest some time to complete this one. My thanks to the author and the Penguin First to Read program for a complimentary copy.

A good story but it's a lot of work. It felt like it dragged a goid bit. The story itself kept me going but I felt like I wanted to give it up in several spots.

3.4 stars lol I enjoyed the theme and the focus on the psychological aspect. The book just seemed a bit long and to drag in some places. Though, with us getting ever closer to being able to live on another planet, it is a nice read to guess on what to expect- not only from yourself but what to watch out for in others!

I was given an advance copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read program. The book is about three cosmonauts and a 17-month training simulation of humankind's first trip to Mars in preparation for their real mission. The story alternates perspectives between the astronauts, family members and the mission psychologist. After reading some not-so-positive reviews, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed this book. The psychological aspects of the faux mission was fascinating and the emotional growth of each cosmonaut was very rewarding. This is certainly not a book filled with action scenes, but a quiet, beautifully written story of three space heroes.

It was a little slow and difficult to get into because we were introduced to someone new every chapter. Sometimes I thought there was more focus on the families and their lives than on the astronauts and their simulation mission to Mars. The plot twist of whether it was really a simulation or not was intriguing, and while I wish we had been given a more definitive answer, the ambiguous ending lets us draw our own conclusions.

I received this advanced reader copy as part of Penguin's First to Read program to read for an honest review. I'm finding this one hard to review. It took me a while to get through it, I felt. I would just get bored and set it aside and read something else for a while. I DID like the characters and the different points of view, but I just felt like it dragged on and didn't go anywhere. It was hard to figure out the sense of time throughout the book. They were in the simulation for so long, so you couldn't really write about the whole time, but it just seemed so shortened. You didn't really get a sense that they were at all restless or tired. It touched on them being irritable, but then they would correct themselves quickly. I liked when they'd cut away and we could see the point of view from the families, but I wish they would've gone deeper into those characters. Again, no sense of time. Seemed like what the characters went through - happened in a very short period of time, not over a year. You're also left to wonder - DID they really go to Mars and were not told? Was it a psychological test. Can they REALLY make the simulation SO real, that even an astronaut can't tell the difference? Overall, it was an OK book. Not a lot of action - but was interesting to see the points of view from the astronauts and what type of personality and skill you would need to make this type of trip.

What I enjoyed the most from The Wanderers was the philosophical questions brought up and the way that the characters play with these ideas. It is like watching a space ballet, where they orbit and dance around each other, moving in harmony all the while moving towards some climax. These characters are all, to some degree, drifters and they are all exposed by this simulation, family and astronauts alike. The ways in which they are woven together is brilliant. Because we are able to see from their eyes, the experience of being all of these moving parts that slowly come together is heightened. This book asks us how do we find those we leave behind? (whether it be to go to college or to Mars) How do we find ourselves when our feet touch the ground? The process of merging all of these different versions of our selves together, exensively explored by Madoka who is my favorite character, is a challenge we all have, no matter what planet we are on.

I received this book as part of Penguin's First to Read program, free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I liked this book. As I was reading it, I decided that that the title of the book, The Wanderers was really just how people feel as they go through life. They wander. While from the outside it may look like they have their act together, sometimes we are a bit lost and just wander. I would have liked to explore more of the "incident" that happened. Did they really go to Mars? I felt like that was a loose thread a bit. Overall, the story kept my attention and wanting to keep reading it.

Interesting book with an interesting plot. I expected a little more on the space front, but ended up enjoying the people part just as much. Thanks for the opportunity to read this book.

This is sci - if that examines the humanity of the people in it. It's not the mix of the two books in the blurb to me, but it's good. The different perspectives were interesting at first, because it was unexpected. Overall I enjoyed this as an exploration of people not space.

It was slow to start. I found it hard to stay focused and had to read several pages over to try to figure out how I lost my way. But...I decided to sit one night and try to read at least 50 pages, hoping it would either click or I'd have to continue to struggle through a book I was bored with. I'm so glad I turned out to be worth all that trouble. It's definitely worth the time to pick up a copy. Just as a note, I generally don't do sci-first but something in the description of this book drew me in from the start. I don't like to include a summary of any sort because anyone can read the book's description...what I look for in a review is the person's opinion, not a repeat of or more in depth description and potential spoilers.

This takes in the perspectives of several different characters - not only the three astronauts chosen to train for the trip to Mars, but also members of their families. It looks at how we all have a habit to hide our true thoughts and emotions, especially for those who are living under the shadow of greatness. Unfortunately, I didn't love any of the characters. I found them fascinating and worth discussing in book clubs, but not someone I'd ever want to emulate. I have loved the idea of space travel since I was a child. I was fascinated with the discussions of the space programs. I felt like I could catch a glimpse of what it would have been like to travel through space and feel that draw. It is just sad to see most - if not all - of the characters seem to be dysfunctional in one way or another because putting your full focus on one thing causes everything else to slowly disintegrate and fall apart. But I will say, it definitely felt like real emotions and deep character development. My favorite aspect of the book was the draw to whether the training was a simulation or real. From early on in the book, I noticed the twist, yet was uncertain whether that was just my mind's wish or an actual book element. I just loved how it continued to tease, trick, and pull me along. And even in the end, the answer is not given. But of course to the characters, it doesn't matter as long as they can do it again.

First, thank you to the publisher and author for giving me the opportunity to read this book! Unfortunately, I didn't really enjoy this book. It's not the writing itself though. I feel like I didn't like it because it's not really a book I would typically go far. I took a leap in reading this, because the genre is really out of my comfort zone. That being said, Meg Howrey''s writing was beautiful. I was very intrigued by the premise of this novel. It really opens your eyes to the human nature. I think the synopsis is a little misleading. I went into this book thinking it would focus more on the space simulation itself. It didn't. It's more about how humans interact and act in such intense situations. Regardless, I definitely got something out of this book, so I am glad I gave it a chance.

This book is a very slow read. I do not think it is a cross between Station Eleven and The Martian- both of which I liked very much,

Disjointed and a little difficult to follow at first, but once you get used to the rhythm of the story, it really picks up. "Station Eleven meets The Martian" isn't exactly accurate, but The Wanderers is, nevertheless, a fantastic sci-fi read.

WOW! WOW! WOW! After reading some of the reviews, I was wondering what I was getting myself into. I love action in a book, that thriller-pace, or the mystery. I was really worried I was going to have to slog through this book. I thought it was fantastic. The character and world-building was amazing. A slight knock on it is that every character felt quite clever. This is a pro as it was very fun to read and connect with the different characters, and it spoke to the author's cleverness, but that was the only part that didn't feel realistic. Now, if you see the description "Station Eleven meets The Martian" and are expecting the action sequences of The Martian, you'll be disappointed. This book doesn't have that kind of action, but the story is well-told, and progresses well with some great twists and turns. If you enjoyed the psychological aspects of The Martian, then you'll love this book.

I'll start with what I liked. The depth of the characters felt very real—they had wonderfully vivid thought lives, which made the book come alive. I also really enjoyed the turns of phrase the author used—she had some very clever piques and sayings she added that made me smile. That said, I mostly didn't like this book. Here's what the book doesn't do: It doesn't take the reader to Mars. It takes the reader on a 17-month pretend trip to Mars, during which the astronauts are all trying to act like it's real when everyone knows it actually isn't real. It's like the author was trying to write The Martian, but without any of the interesting action and only the introspection. The writing felt stiff, despite the good turns of phrase, and this is probably due to the minimal use of contractions. I can understand minimal contractions from characters like Yoshi and Sergi (the Japanese and Russian astronauts), for whom English is a second or third language. But in the thoughts and conversations of the American characters, it felt stiff and unrealistic. I also thought there were too many points of view. Having POVs from the three astronauts is fine, but the author tried to focus on too many characters in depth, and as a result, none of them had their own voice. They all had the same voice, but with different thoughts. Another critique, stemming from this, is that the setting felt off for this type of introspective book. People who read about humans going to Mars want a little action, and this book was so introspective that it felt slow the whole time. If the setting were different—for example, instead of having 7 different POVs, the book took the form of letters between two sets of characters—it might have worked better for the setting of Mars training. As is, though, it just felt slow.

This is a novel of three astronauts who are on a simulated (or is it?) mission to Mars in preparation for a real mission sometime in the future. It's really a character study, not only of the astronauts but of their families as well. They are all flawed, as we all are, and the astronauts become increasingly aware of their own flaws and begin to question their relationships with their families as they have seen them in the past. 17 months in space allows for a great deal of introspection. I sometimes found the thoughts and conversations of all the characters to be confusing but it allowed for an interaction with the characters as I questioned their thoughts and wondered how I would act in their place. Very thought provoking.

I think the description of the book as "Station Eleven meets The Martian" does the book a disservice. It brings to mind a very different type and pace of story that The Wanderers never arrives at. Once you get past that, which took me some time as I kept expecting something else, the book is much more a character study than either of those two and shows great growth of detail and individual personality for the main characters and some of their family. Some parts of the supporting characters stories felt unnecessary at times but in the end I think it built into the development of the main characters, even if it never fully flushed out those supporting arcs. Fun and easy read, just have to get over a poor comparison that did not set proper expectations for the book which is interesting in it's own right.

"Earth was so much more beautiful in space, when you could just look at it, not be on it." I received a copy of this ebook from in exchange for an honest review. The writing in this book is mesmerizing and the characters are memorable. This is a great book that blends the lives of a number of characters and their individual goals. I really enjoyed the contrast in their family lives and how they all interact. While there isn't a whole lot of growth necessarily in this story, there was more depth than I expected and more focus on family and personal wants. It's an intriguing story that's hard to put down.

Helen Kane, Sergei Kuznetsov and Yoshihiro Tanaka have been chosen by Prime Space to possibly be the first astronauts to land on Mars. But first they have to prove themselves by submitting to a closely studied simulation of the flight, which will take 17 months. They don’t have a minute’s privacy as they’re constantly watched by employees of Prime Space. The simulation is so realistic that it’s sometimes hard for the astronauts to believe they’re not really on their way to Mars. Meanwhile, their families await the return of the astronauts as they deal with their own issues. The spotlight in this book isn’t so much on space travel as it is on the effect of that travel on those who venture out into the unknown. The author takes a close look at the hearts and minds of the three astronauts who so long to see what has never been seen before – their fears, their hopes and also their guilt for leaving their families so often. This is a beautiful character study with great insight told in a poetic and sometimes humorous manner. I wasn’t surprised to read that the author had been a ballerina as she has the heart of an artist. This engrossing book brought back all the excitement and wonder of the 1960’s space travel to the moon and reminded me of what a special time in history that was. Recommended.

It's hard for me to say how I felt about this book. I had a hard time getting into it and staying into it - but I don't think it was the authors fault (as in, the writing is very good). By the end I was invested in the characters... And then the ending, which I HATED. No spoilers of course. All in all, worth the read, but it wasn't love for me.

This is a book about a group of three astronauts training for a months-long mission to Mars. But I hesitate to cal it sci-fi. Yes, the Mars mission is the impetus of the plot, but it's not what the book is about. The book is about what kind of people volunteer to be enclosed in a small container for months, separated from their family, friends, and everyone else on Earth. It's about how those family members and friends adapt to their absence; about what kind of person marries someone who is away for months on end; what having a parent who is away for months on end does to a child's development. I've seen several reviews that describe the book as "Station Eleven meets The Martian" and I think it's dead on. Mars yes, but really the book is about thoughts, and feelings, and how people respond to situations, as opposed to the situations themselves.

I received a copy of this book to read and review through the Penguin First To Read program. When I read the description of this book, I was excited about the potential for the content since I had enjoyed reading The Martian in the past and have been a long time Star Trek fan. While I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't as much action as I would have liked, I was quickly drawn into the carefully layered and overlapping thoughts, feelings and experiences of the characters. The movement from one point of view to the next, from seeing similar events from two different perspectives which each reveal different aspects, was artfully done. The story flowed easily from one scene to the next, and I was captivated by the details each character revealed and concealed. In the end, this was a very enjoyable read!

I thought that the subject matter of this book was quite interesting. It covered the emotions and fears that the astronauts face while delving into the thoughts of those left behind. I enjoyed this book for its unique take on the subject matter, however I found the pacing of the book to be slow and parts of the book seemed repetitive in tone and subject.

An unusual take on the space travel tale, reflection from the main character's view, also including her two team mates and occasional family members. I have loved science fiction and space travel since I was a kid watching Star Trek, but this is not for everyone, definitely more a thought provoking journey than action-packed. Interesting but sometimes slow reading.

For me, The Wanderers is a cross between The Martian and at least one episode of Doctor Who. It's a story of what-ifs, how change not only affects an individual but those closest to them. Every action has consequences; some good, others bad. The story is a good mix of fantasy (who doesn't love space travel and the potential to put man on Mars) and reality - who we love, how we love them, and how life can both help and hinder in that respect. Is making history worth any/all of the wounds it could leave? Is becoming a modern-day Columbus a noble goal? In the immortal words of The Clash, "Should I stay or should I go?" Howrey wants her readers to be introspective in the midst of the excitement of new, never-achieved prospect and ask themselves hard questions about the reality of life now. Overall, a good read and interesting story.


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