Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Wanderers

Title:  The Wanderers
Author:  Meg Howrey
Publication Information:  G. P. Putnam's Sons. 2017. 384 pages.
ISBN:  0399574638 / 978-0399574634

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley and the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Nothing feels as free as this!"

Favorite Quote:  "This was the thing about miscalculation, errors, mistakes. You admitted them, you used them as teachable moments, and then you moved on. You didn't forget, but you didn't dwell."

The goal - Destination Mars.

The company - Prime Space Systems Laboratory.

The first step - Proving that it's possible.

Well, in actuality, it's possibly the millionth step in a process a billion steps long. The research, design, and development of the science come before. More research, redesign, and redevelopment will come after. This is the step to determine if it's humanly possible; it is a year and a half long experiment unlike any before.

Prime Space System Laboratory creates what is perhaps the most extensive simulation ever imagined.  Three astronauts - Helen Kane, Yoshihiro Tanaka, and Sergei Kuznetsov - are chosen for the simulation. All of them are experienced; all of them have been to space before and perhaps dream of going again. At the moment, this simulation is the closest they can come.

This time they are not actually going to space, but they are the test for the real thing. In the deserts of Utah exists the experimental world that mirrors the experience of travel to and existence on Mars. The Prime Space crew attempts to create every possible scenario from personal crises to technical disasters to test the endurance of the crew. It's not real, but at the same time, the astronauts experience the reality of the test - the isolation, the perceived distance from their world, the threat of imminent disaster, the close quarters living with two other strangers not to mention the technical challenges and pursuits such a mission entails.

This intriguing premise, the cover, and the marketing are what lead me to read this book. Unfortunately, the book suffers from two things.

First is the number of characters and perspectives the book captures. Of course, the book captures the three astronauts. In addition, it depicts the view of one of the Prime Space development team tasked with monitoring the experiment 24/7. Further, the book encompasses the stories of family members - Helen's daughter, Sergei's teenage son, and Yoshi's wife. They are the ones left behind with their own issues and problems that don't necessarily relate to the adventure their loved ones are on. In some ways, this book about space exploration is also about individuals exploring within their own selves, their paradigms, and their priorities. Unfortunately, it becomes difficult to track all the different perspectives. It is even a bigger challenge to fully vest in any of the characters because the book offers a glimpse and then moves away to someone else.

Second, this book suffers from its own marketing. The book is described as Station Eleven meets The Martian. I loved both those books; that is a main reason why I chose to read this book. Mind you, those two books are entirely different from each other in plot and story telling. However, both completely drew me in. This book unfortunately reminds me of neither. Perhaps, that accentuates my reaction to this book because I was expecting something that was not delivered. Hence, the marketing does the book a disservice.

Sadly, I end up not the right reader for this book.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment