Booksellers, librarians, and bookworms everywhere know the pain of attempting to answer the seemingly inevitable demand: “Give me a great book!” Greatness, as we all know by now, tends to be a highly subjective matter. Fortunately, thanks to “The Wanderers” by Meg Howrey, we may finally be able to give a reply, in reference to books at least, that will prove true for almost every kind of reader. So much more than simply a good story, “The Wanderers” collects and displays a diverse cast of characters, each with emphatically unique perspectives and thought processes. Three astronauts—an American woman, a Japanese man, and a Russian man—are selected to begin training for earth’s first mission to Mars. Readers will recognize the setting to be the world almost exactly as we know it today, beyond a few minor technological advancements which are already well under way and inevitable within the next decade or so. The realism is helped along by the extremely intimate way in which we get to know the characters, from the astronauts themselves, to their close family members left at home and members of their mission control support teams. For their training, the golden trio must undergo an elaborately intensive year and a half simulation of the Martian voyage. As the characters’ histories and personalities are revealed, unfolding like a complex work of origami, a sense of unease begins to slowly, inexorably creep in. The result is a gorgeously paradoxical tale that lives halfway between the everyday reality of human emotion and the utterly surreal setting of a hypothetical space voyage. A love story to the profound intricacies of human nature, this novel expertly manipulates the reader’s expectations to maximum effect. For lovers of The Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki or Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, there will likely be few better follow-ups. Whether you’re usually a bigger fan of award-winning fiction, light beach reads, harrowing science fiction, or eerie mysteries, this is your next great book. Coming to your local independent bookstore on March 14.