Friday, December 29, 2017

"The Wanderers" by Meg Howrey

I began The Wanderers with high hopes—it was being compared to The Martianwhich I loved. But this is nothing like The Martian ... the characters don't even actually go to Mars! (I did recognize a few sciencey/spacey terms from The Martian, but that was were the similarities ended.)

In four years Prime Space will put the first humans on Mars. Helen Kane, Yoshi Tanaka, and Sergei Kuznetsov must prove they’re the crew for the job by spending seventeen months in the most realistic simulation every created.

Retired from NASA, Helen had not trained for irrelevance. It is nobody’s fault that the best of her exists in space, but her daughter can’t help placing blame. The MarsNOW mission is Helen’s last chance to return to the only place she’s ever truly felt at home. For Yoshi, it’s an opportunity to prove himself worthy of the wife he has loved absolutely, if not quite rightly. Sergei is willing to spend seventeen months in a tin can if it means travelling to Mars. He will at least be tested past the point of exhaustion, and this is the example he will set for his sons.

As the days turn into months the line between what is real and unreal becomes blurred, and the astronauts learn that the complications of inner space are no less fraught than those of outer space. The Wanderers gets at the desire behind all exploration: the longing for discovery and the great search to understand the human heart.

I began reading this book in February and just finished it today. I simply could not get into it. I even tried listening to the audiobook version, and that, somehow, made it even more boring. So I went back to the print version (with a lot of skimming), and it finally picked up.

The Wanderers is the story of three astronauts—Helen, Yoshi, and Sergei—who have been selected for a 17-month Mars mission simulation, and if the simulation is successful, they could be the first people sent to Mars. The time spent with the astronauts and with Luke, one of the "obbers" tasked with monitoring the simulation and liaising with the astronauts' families, is fascinating. Unfortunately, that's only about half of the book. The other half is spent with Helen's daughter, Yoshi's wife, and Sergei's son ... and I didn't connect with any of their stories. Finally, I started skipping over the family portions, and that greatly raised my enjoyment of the book.

The book spans nearly the entire simulation, and near the end, a possible twist comes into play that I thought could really make things interesting. However, the idea is just teased, and the book kind of fizzles out, rather than reaching a satisfying conclusion. I suppose the ending was supposed to be poetic, but I just found it maddening, and I felt like the time I spent reading the book was a waste. (My exact words as I closed the book: "Well, that was dumb!") 2 stars.

Content note: There's quite a bit of strong language in the book. Sex is mentioned (never explicitly, at least in the portions I read), including Sergei's teenage son's sexual experimentation.

Buy the book.

Meg Howrey grew up in Danville, Illinois before moving to New York City at age fifteen to pursue a career in dance. At sixteen she joined Joffrey II, and later performed as a guest artist with The Eglevsky Ballet, City Ballet of Los Angeles, and The Los Angeles Opera. In 2001 she received the Ovation Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her role in the Broadway National Tour of "Contact." Her first novel, BLIND SIGHT, was published in 2011, and was followed by THE CRANES DANCE in 2012. THE WANDERERS will be published in March of 2017. Her non-fiction has appeared in Vogue and The Los Angeles Review of Books.
Author Website:
Instagram: @meghowrey

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review through Amazon Vine. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...