THE WANDERERS by Meg Howrey

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The Wanderers  is a sci-fi story set in the not-too-distant future where private aerospace tech company wants to put the first humans on Mars. In order to prepare for the long journey, the three Mars astronauts will first spend seventeen months in the most realistic space simulation ever created, as a means of testing their skills before shooting them into space. The challenges don’t just come from the outside space, the fallibility of machinery, zero gravity, and freeze-dried food, but also from within. Similarly, the novel follows the stories of the astronaut’s families and their Prime Space caregivers as they drift through their own spaces, dealing with feelings of isolation, inadequacy, and impulse. The Wanderers reminded me of Andy Weir’s The Martian with the attention to scientific detail, but with as much depth regarding both technical logistics and complex human emotions. In many ways I enjoyed The Wanderers more than The Martian because the characters felt much more fleshed out, even though Howrey tackled a greater number of characters than Weir. Each had equal parts good, bad, and neutral, and had their own kind of interior narrations that made each feel distinct. In all, the novel was both funny and heartfelt, realistic and surreal.

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