"The Wanderers" by Meg Howry

By Meg Howry

Reviewed by Julia

ISBN 9780399574641


In Meg Howrey's fictional "The Wanderers", three seasoned astronauts are chosen to complete a simulation of a Mars expedition in a remote area of the San Rafael Swell, Utah.  Hailing from Japan, Russia, and America, the explorers have never met but will be spending the next 17 months together, isolated, while under the watchful eyes and ears of an observation team (referred to as "obs") created to observe and learn from their experience. The experiment will determine whether or not the three are actually equipped for the journey at or whether an alternative team must be chosen.  The stakes are high; each astronaut has been chosen because of their unique and highly specific  qualities, considered to be irreplaceable in relation to the other two; the trio's strength lies in the their complements.  Opening with this question mark, Howrey then swiftly ushers the reader into the complexities of each individual person's character, and past and present experience.  Our astronauts are leaving children and partners behind on their "journey", which we discover is made up of more than simulating a successful launch, landing, and return, but the determining lens through which all are looking.  The characters are well-written and relatable, intriguing enough in their imperfect humanity that I found myself thinking about each one for periods of time when I wasn't reading. The astronauts themselves fulfill specific, subtly archetypal roles which cause the reader to look more deeply into the way we step into different roles in our own lives.  A slow-burning, fascinating book about the experience of the inner world, of social presentation, and an exploration of the concept of a "journey".

--Julia

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