The Wanderers by Meg Howrey

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The Wanderers by Meg Howrey

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Amy Etherington
Reviewed by Amy Etherington
Summary: A character-focused yet somewhat slow novel about three astronauts on a training mission to Mars. The Wanderers focuses on the feelings and the strain such a mission has on human relationships, but ultimately it falls a bit flat.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 384 Date: April 2017
Publisher: Scribner
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1471146657

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Set in the near future, NASA prepares to send three astronauts in to space to put the first humans on Mars. Helen Kane, Yoshi Tanaka, and Sergei Kuznetsov are the trio selected for the mission, but they must first prove themselves by spending seventeen months in a simulation that mirrors conditions on Mars. Each of the astronauts has their own reason for taking part in the mission and their relationships with their families will be put to the ultimate test as they begin this journey of discovery and escapism.

For Helen, her relationship with her daughter is strained but this mission allows her to go in to space one last time. Yoshi wishes to prove himself to his wife, and Sergei is willing to spend seventeen months in isolation to escape his broken down marriage and set an example to his two sons. Told from multiple narrators, including the astronauts and their families, The Wanderers promises depth and exploration in to the lives of these characters. Does it deliver? In a way I suppose it does, but don’t go in to this book expecting a thrill ride of drama and action because you’ll undoubtedly be disappointed. It’s not a bad book by any means; if you enjoy slow narratives that deal with the dynamics of family relationships then perhaps you’ll find something you like here. I’d had this book on my radar for a little while and I was super intrigued to finally read it, yet ultimately it left me feeling cold and somewhat disappointed.

The marketing for The Wanderers compares it to The Martian by Andy Weir and having read and enjoyed the latter, I was confused at how these stories apparently liken to each other. With the exception of the Mars mission – which never actually takes place in this book since it’s just a simulation – there’s little similarity. The Wanderers is a slow book which focuses on the psychological rather than the adventure. It deals with the characters and how their relationships form and change under such exhausting circumstances. Character studies are great and you follow a range of different personalities in this story. The one I found most interesting was Dmitri’s narrative, the son of one of the astronauts, who is exploring and coming to terms with his sexuality. Some of the others unfortunately fell flat and usually I enjoy books told from multiple perspectives but I found in it didn’t really work in this case. What I found frustrating was that the elements for a fantastic book are all there, but sadly the execution didn’t pay off.

The story was completely different to what I anticipated and although slow, character focused novels can be great this just didn’t feel right. It didn’t go deep enough for me which is a real shame because as I said the story idea is really fascinating. If character focused, literary novels with a hint of science-fiction sound like your kind of thing that perhaps you may find something you enjoy here, because I think this book would be enjoyed more by a particular kind of reader. For me however, it was just a completely different experience to the one I was expecting.

I’d like to thank the publishers for providing The Bookbag with a copy. For recommended reading I would suggest checking out The Things We Learn When We're Dead by Charlie Laidlaw for a science fiction story that combines emotion with humour.

Buy The Wanderers by Meg Howrey at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Wanderers by Meg Howrey at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Wanderers by Meg Howrey at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Wanderers by Meg Howrey at Amazon.com.


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