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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Station Eleven meets The Martian in this 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.

“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. 

Library Journal, A Big Fiction pick for March 2017

Advance Galley Reviews

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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