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The Mars Room

A Novel

by Rachel Kushner

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner X
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2018, 352 pages

    May 2019, 352 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts
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Power Reviewer

Prison injustice
I feel I may be in the minority, but...I was fully prepared to fall head over heels with this novel. It has all the elements that I love and am interested in but as I plowed through it, I finished it with a sense of emptiness. It contains important issues relative to the justice system and the poor hand dealt to women by virtue of their place in the socioeconomic ladder and their choice of vocation. This misfortune extends to the judicial process and the disadvantages that these women face in initial arraignment and in parole questions. Life inside the prison portrayed the loneliness, the cruelty and power hierarchy but also the love and support that can occur within these walls. Raw and unflinching, this story of a sex worker who killed a man who was stalking her is told in chapters that had me confused from time to time as to which character was talking. Some of the transitions felt muddled but more importantly, I cared about the issues but not the characters. I wish it had spoken to me more.
Power Reviewer
Sandi W. (Illinois)

Blatant Sex....
I waited impatiently for this book to be published and obtained by my library, then I picked up the CD set. I got through 4 of 9 discs - barely.

I really wanted to like this book. I have never read Rachel Kushner before - and may never again - if this is typical of her work. However, I expected to like this book because I read and enjoy a lot of fiction and non-fiction accounts of prisons and prisoners, in both historical and current situations. And the pre-publication hype for this book was outstanding- which should have been my first warning. Had the author stayed with her primary character and wrote about her life, before, during and after prison, I would probably still be listening. I found the problem not only with the language and sexual content that Kushner used, but with random inclusion of the extra characters. The content was so blatant and in your face as to be written for a sex magazine. I am far from a prude, but there is a technique to tell that very same story but in a not-so-offending-way that was not done in this book.

This account of this story made me sad. It is a good premise and could be a good story. I just found that the author took too many liberties with my tolerance and her intended shock value ruined the pleasure I got from reading it. This is definitely not a book that I would recommend to anyone.
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