The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

The Mars Room

It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners a...

Details The Mars Room

TitleThe Mars Room
Release DateMay 1st, 2018
GenreFiction, Literary Fiction, Contemporary

Reviews The Mars Room

  • Emily May
    2 1/2 stars. It's taken me a long time to admit that I just didn't like The Mars Room very much. Even as I was struggling to keep my eyes on the page, keep reading, and not get distracted by that piece of fluff on the floor, I was doing my best to write a positive review in my head.I thought I would love it. It felt like I should. What doesn't sound great about a gritty prison novel dissecting class, wealth and other power structures in the penal...
  • Angela M
    3.5 stars I read an in-depth article in New Yorker Magazine that made it apparent why Rachel Kushner can so vividly bring her characters in this book to life. (The link to the article is below.) She followed an inmate at a California prison because she wanted to have people in her life “that the State of California rendered invisible to others.” She brings these real people to us through a cast of characters in her fictional account of life i...
  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    I'm one to admit when I just do not get the hype on a book. This is one that I just did not jump on the train with. I am bit confused by it actually. The majority of the book is about Romy, who has been sentenced to two life sentences for murdering her stalker. She is poor and worked as a she basically stood no chance in the justice system.This part of the book kept me interested. For some sicko reason prison type dramas are one of m...
  • Perry
    The Mars Room is a provocative, raveworthy exploration of choices or, indeed, the absence of any perceived choice for adolescent and teen female criminals on the lower echelon of the socio-economic scale who grow up sexually abused, addicted to street drugs and/or engaged in a sex-related trade because they've had no choice in where, how and by whom they were raised, the adverse societal effects being the counterproductive institutionalization of...
  • Trish
    Rachel Kushner’s novels defy categorization. Her work reads easily but has a complexity that resists summation. She breaks rules and changes minds. This novel is both heavy and light at the same time, like a women’s prison in the Central Valley of California is tragic and absurd. Only for the untethered is it the joke it sometimes appears. Kushner is for adults. She talks about sex and violence in a way that only adults will understand. Devia...
  • Ron Charles
    More than a week before the release of Rachel Kushner’s new novel, “The Mars Room,” the New York Times published an excerpt in a special 12-page section. Hauntingly illustrated and spiced with artsy pull-quotes, it was an extraordinary presentation designed to proclaim the advent of an extraordinary book. Indeed, a Times book critic followed up with a review calling “The Mars Room” “a major novel.”Which may be the problem with this ...
  • Joseph
    The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner is a fictional examination of not only the prison system but of the circumstances and the people that are fed into the system. Kushner is also the author of The Flamethrowers, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and a New York Times Top Five Novel of 2013. Her debut novel, Telex from Cuba, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and a New York Times bestseller and Notable Book. She is the recip...
  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    This is a strong case of "it's not you, it's me." I have tried to read and like Rachel Kushner before, back when I read The Flamethrowers when it was the it book of the season. In the case of that book, what lingers is the description of the motorcycle crossing the salt flats, but at no point did I connect to the plot or characters. And unfortunately we are here again. I've read almost 40% but just need to acknowledge that it isn't working for me...
  • Tatiana
    Well written on a technical level, but there is not a single thing in this novel that hasn't been covered elsewhere, for instance, on Orange Is The New Black (the show). Adding Theroux quotes didn't elevate it to anything new, IMO.
  • Roman Clodia
    4.5 stars Prison was a place where you had to be strong to get through each day. If you thought about some awful act you'd committed, every day, in graphic detail, enough to prove to a parole board that you had insight, the proverbial insight they wanted, needed, to let you go home, you might lose your mind. To stay sane, that was the thing. To stay sane you formed a version of yourself you could believe in. What strikes me about this book is the...
  • Neil
    I think I would like to hear more from Kushner about the motivations for this book and the choices she made regarding its structure before I make a final judgement on how I feel about it. It seems to have received a lot of positive reviews in the pre-publication buzz. It is supposed to be a gritty prison drama that has something to say about incarceration, poverty/class, sexism and other topics. I was looking forward to reading it. And it does in...
  • ♥ Sandi ❣
    DNF I will not rate this because I absolutely could not force my way through it. I waited impatiently for this book to be published and obtained by my library. 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 ac...
  • debra
    3ish Liked the Romy parts inside and out of prison. Author writes really well, but IMO the novel didn't really hang together. Shelby*trains flying monkeys* expressed my feelings perfectly in her review.
  • Meow
    I was blown away by The Mars Room. Reading this was akin to watching a modern day "human circus" from a front row seat.The main character, Romy. is a “street smart”, hustling, “do what you gotta do” straight up kind of woman. Romy is someone I’d want to know, talk to, observe. She is a survivor who has been living on the fringes of society for most of her life. All her choices have been her own - including working as a lap dancer at a s...
  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    via my blog:'Certain women in prison make rules for everyone else, and the woman insisting on quiet was one of those. If you follow their rules, they make more rules. You have to fight people or you end up with nothing.'Everything has already been taken from Romy Hall, but at what point did her life, her little boy Jackson begin to drift away? With two consecutive life sentences to be served at the Stanville...
  • Tyler Goodson
    One of the best of 2018 for sure. Masterful and unforgettable.
  • Jessica Sullivan
    4/5 Stars.This is a book about choices and consequences. But life is more than that: it’s also circumstances. This is a book about circumstances, too.Romy is serving a double life sentence in a California prison. Like most of the women there, her life before was tough and gritty. She was a stripper in a seedy club. She tried to do right by her son, Jackson, but made the wrong choice in murdering a customer who stalked her.The Mars Room shifts p...
  • RoseMary Achey
    Life isn't pretty or easy for Romy Hall the protagonist of Rachel Kushner's new novel The Mars Room. The Mars Room is a seedy strip bar where Romy earns enough to support her five year old son Jackson. That is until a Mars Room regular, Kurt Kennedy begins stalking Romy. The story opens with our protagonist being transported to prison. The story vacillates between the past and the present. We slowly learn of Romy's life and what led her to priso...
  • Jennifer Still
    This is another book that from the synopsis alone, I really wanted to like. Unfortunately, I did not. I found myself continually reading it just for the sake of getting through it and being done with it, which is never a good feeling. There are so many problems with this book, and while some novels offer little redemptions in the form of character development, storytelling, etc., there was no upside to anything that happened within its pages and ...
  • Alisa H. (worldswithinpages)
    Pretty slow book with a lot of changing perspectives and shifts between past and present. Interesting, but not my favorite. Don’t expect to “like” the narrators. They’re not great people. But maybe that makes them more appealing as prisoners!
  • Sarah Marie
    The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner4 stars“I don’t plan on living a long life. Or a short life, necessarily. I have no plans at all. The thing is you keep existing whether you have a plan to do so or not, until you don’t exist, and then your plans are meaningless.”Romy Hall finds herself in the Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility with two consecutive life sentences and it’s all because of the Mars Room. If she hadn’t been a dancer t...
  • Jan
    I didn’t quite buy the protagonist’s voice and vocabulary given her life experiences, but Kushner kept me engrossed and on high alert the whole book and left me in tears at the end, so, yes, five stars. (Not saying whether those tears were happy or sad, so no spoiler there.)
  • Tara - Running 'n' Reading
    There are some things about the criminal justice system, either on a state or federal level, that most people wouldn't even think to wonder about unless they were in the middle of them; it's amazing the amount of knowledge one can learn, after committing a crime. I began highlighting passages in The Mars Room within the first five pages and I ended up with over thirty items; it is now nearly impossible to select my favorites. "Everything in priso...
  • Pattie
    The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner has received a great deal of positive press. Relating the story of a woman serving a life sentence for the murder of a man who was stalking her, the novel also provides insight into others on the cell block. There is some grit and compelling parts to the novel, but somehow the emotion is lacking and the story drags. Also, the inclusion of a corrupt cop on death row in the men's prison is both head scratching as wel...
  • Cynthia
    What a talent Kushner has! Her writing is stark but moving, tragic yet hopeful, so alive no matter how depressing the topic is and life in prison where choices are narrow to a pin prick is about as bad as life gets. Romy is a young mother who came of age in the 90’s. She grew up poor and close to parentless so her future never seemed bright. She and her fellow street mates raise one another. Without the advantage of feeling she had choice much ...
  • Adah Udechukwu
    The Mars Room was five star awesome. It was totally worth my time
  • Kristina Reads - Books. Blogs. Memes.
    Trigger warnings for pretty much everything you can think of, including sexual assault of children.I’ve been chewing on this one for a few days wondering how to review it, so I think I’m just going to keep it short.This is a good book. It’s well-written, the characters are interesting, and their stories are compelling. Fans of literary fiction will really like this book. If you’re interested in learning about nuances of prison life, the u...
  • Biljana
    Rachel Kushner's The Mars Room is an atmospheric story that tells us about Romy Hall, who has just been transferred to her new home, Stanville Women's Correctional Facility, to serve out two consecutive life sentences. The novel jumps around a bit, but this allows us to delve into a lot of different threads of Romy's life, including her time growing up in San Francisco, her life as a single mother to Jackson, and, eventually, why she was sent to ...