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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, March 2017 - Space is huge right now. Well, it's always huge, but it's like really big at the moment. While The Wanderers is being billed as a cross between The Martian and Station Eleven, it is really unlike any other space odyssey. It follows three astronauts and their families during a 17-month-long Mars voyage simulation. But as the astronauts become engulfed in the complexities of their expedition, the line between reality and simulation starts to blur. Meg Howrey uses this uncertainty to drive a delicious psychological tension into and between her diverse and intricate characters, and narrator Mozhan Marno exacerbates that tension with a composed, refined, and eerily calm tone of voice. The Wanderers then ends up exploring the boundaries of familial obligation and personal relationships as much as it does those of the final frontier. And the performance lands with precision, delivering a uniquely awe-inspiring glimpse of humanity at a distance and way up close.—Michael, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

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.

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 17 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.

©2017 Meg Howrey (P)2017 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Howrey's exquisite novel demonstrates that the final frontier may not be space after all." (J. Ryan Stradal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A Voyage Of Discovery

Ok, up front I just loved this book. My hope is that you didn't read the editorial review or the publisher summary. To me, they both contain too much information. I won't say they contain actual plot spoilers--but something more on the lines of presenting preconceived ideas. Notions that might limit your personal experience of what is actually happening in this amazingly subtle and nuanced novel. There is so much depth in Howrey's writing and when combined with Marno's beautiful narration the whole experience sparkles.

I think that this is the sort of book that each reader will interpret in their own way. For me the writing was packed full of deeper meaning, wry humor, growth and love. The whole book was so thoughtful, so filled with insight and grounded solidly in a feeling of hope and possibility.

My suggestion, if you decide to take the plunge, is to approach the storytelling free of limits, with an open mind and allow yourself to see where this adventure takes you. I hung on each word and listened almost non-stop. My favorite book so far this year. Wonderful.

19 of 24 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Meh...

What did you like best about The Wanderers? What did you like least?

The story is good, however I was hoping for a little more exciting story line. Mostly this is a story about the personalities of the astronauts and their families. After a few chapters, there wasn't much to keep me engaged. It was, however, interesting to imagine how they and their families must control their feelings for the sake of the career. The narration became a little monotonous for me. I finished the book but only because I am very stubborn and am unwilling to cut my losses!

Would you be willing to try another book from Meg Howrey? Why or why not?

No thanks. While the author's prose is great, I didn't find the story engaging. The style of writing isn't for me.

Which character – as performed by Mozhan Marno – was your favorite?

None really. I never developed an attachment to any of them.

Was The Wanderers worth the listening time?

No.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A Journey over a Destination

The narration is very good - there are a few spaces between paragraphs where it is clear they edited together two different recording sessions, however, overall the quality and tone of the narrator is great. Overall I would call it calm and intriguing. The book itself is not quite what I expected. Each chapter is from a different character's perspective, and the reader has no information that the characters themselves do not have, and they are unreliable. They only see each other through filters, and all are conscious of they way others see them to a hyperactive degree. The setting is somewhat circumstantial, where the interesting this is not training to go to Mars - really that is just a backdrop for exploring the development and relationships between these people - rather what a superhuman task requires of those who undertake it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Revelation upon revelation upon...

One of the most deeply moving and compelling works of contemporary fiction I have read.

Ms. Howery has much to teach Nabokov, Roth, Vonnegut.

Listen with your heart, to the depth of your soul and all the compassion for humanity for which you are capable, and you, too, I hope, will feel about this work of genius as I do.

God Bless you, author Meg Howery and actress Mozhan Marino.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Astronauts are people too

From the perspective of us average folk astronauts seem like people that are as near perfect in every respect as we can imagine. This story shows us that side and all their other very human other selves. All the same great and petty torments. All the complex interwoven narratives are compelling, sweet, neurotic, intelligent and many times blind as are all of ours (mine at least). I had to slog through a few passages but they were short and few, I started it three times and I am very happy I finally finished it. I very definitely recommend it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Think drama more than science fiction

I bought this book because I really enjoyed The Martian and Station Eleven, but this book is more of a drama than sci-fi. Slow moving book more about the dysfunctions of the unlikeable characters than a mission to Mars. Plodded along until it's unsatisfactory ending. Narration was very good and most likely the only reason I finished the book.

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Know what You Are Getting-Poignant And Deep

If you are looking for a replica of The Martian or Station Eleven, that is not this book. Instead, this book is an exploration of the humans involved in a Martian space simulation, whether by being the selected astronaut or one of the family members waiting while the 17 month Mars simulation progresses. Whether from the past or present, these people and their stories, their frailties and strengths, their hopes and worries for themselves, earth and humankind; they will touch your soul. I think if you know that going in you'll enjoy your travels through this beautiful, beautiful book.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Boring

I'm not sure what book others read. This book was boring Dull no real story. That's all I can say.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A Book About Disconnection

I am a big fan of Meg Howrey. The Cranes Dance is the best, most underappreciated ballet novel that's out there. I'd rate it well above Maggie Shipstead's Astonish Me. Her writing is reminiscent of Lionel Shriver's--that kind of deeply analytical, deeply beautiful prose. When I saw that she had a new book coming out, I preordered it and eagerly waited for it to be available for download. And then it took me close to a year and a half to finish it.

I really hate to say it, but this was a slog. I am not the type of reader who requires constant action in a story to stay engaged. I am both an avid reader and writer of literary fiction. I enjoy a good character study. However, the main problem with The Wanderers is that it is a story about disconnected people. And they're all so disconnected, I couldn't connect to them.

I couldn't find any attachment to any of the characters, and it's not because they're flat so much as it's because they're all these broken objects floating in space. They're unreachable. They're interesting, sure, but you never really get close enough to any of them to explore that. The only character that comes close to being an exception is Dimitri, one of Sergei's sons. But even he is a bit too disconnected. Everyone's reactions are muted, their affects too calculated. They're almost not real people--more like robots.

And don't let the description fool you: this book is not really about space or Mars or any of that. That stuff is in there--it is apparent that Howrey has done an impressive amount of detailed research--but it's not the point. The book is definitely mis-marketed with comparisons to Station Eleven and The Martian. This is a book of character studies. And so there really isn't a lot going on. Lots of introspection from really sad, really broken, and/or really out of touch people. It was hard for me to get through ten hours of that.

The narrator does a good job. She has to handle a lot of different accents, and a lot of different characters. She doesn't necessarily differentiate all that much between characters' voices, but she does a good job with the accents, and I was never really confused as to who was talking.

I am sad that I can't recommend this book. There's just too much stagnancy. I look forward to what Meg Howrey does next, because the writing really is beautiful, but this was a miss for me.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Never really launched

I love books about space and sc-fi. I was hopeful this would be a really good listen. However the story never really took off and I kept waiting for a plot twist at the end. I was disappointed. Narration was good

It is more about human relations than space.