Five words from the blurb: astronauts, Mars, relationships, focused, job
I’ve read several books on space travel recently, but The Wanderers is the first to really examine the relationships experienced by astronauts – both professional and personal. It is a slow, observational character study, rich in the detail of day-to-day life. It shows the calm temperament of these highly trained individuals and also the thoughts and feelings of the family members left behind. If you’re looking for a fast-paced adventure then The Wanderers isn’t for you, but if you’re interested in how astronauts deal with stress and isolation then this book will reward you with an insight into their enviable composure.
The book follows three elite astronauts (from Russia, America and Japan) as they are selected for the first manned visit to Mars:
Each of the characters was well developed and I was impressed by the insight into their changing mental state. The detail of their training also felt accurate and the science was all well researched.
Unfortunately I predicted the plot direction early on. There was almost no forward momentum and the calmness of the astronauts meant the writing lacked tension. It was nice to see this realism, but it meant the book wasn’t as exciting as others in this genre.
I also found the ending to be a bit of a let down. I wanted the book to continue for longer than it did, as I felt it ended just as things were beginning to get interesting. I think book clubs will enjoy debating its ambiguous nature, but I found it frustrating.
Overall, The Wanderers is a welcome addition to the space-travel genre and I recommend it to anyone who’d like to examine the way the way people feel about travelling so far from everything they know and love.