The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

The Mars Room

From twice National Book Award–nominated Rachel Kushner, whose Flamethrowers was called “the best, most brazen, most interesting book of the year” (Kathryn Schulz, New York magazine), comes a spectacularly compelling, heart-stopping novel about a life gone off the rails in contemporary America.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 Cent...

Details The Mars Room

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

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...
  • Perry
    Briefly:The Mars Room is a provocative, raveworthy exploration of choices or, should I say, the way some criminals--especially females on the lower echelon of the socio-economic scale who grew up sexually abused, heavily involved in drugs and/or engaged in prostitution or some sex-related trade--have no choice in where and how they are raised, the societal effect being the counterproductive institutionalization of a legion of women, repetitive re...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Tyler Goodson
    One of the best of 2018 for sure. Masterful and unforgettable.
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • Grace Lerner
    "It's not like something tragic and awful can happen. I mean sure it can. Of course it can. But you can't lose everything in prison, since that's already happened."Romy Hall is given two life sentences for killing her stalker. The Mars Room navigates the world inside a women's prison with sincerity and depth. Kushner tackles timely issues like mass incarceration, domestic abuse, police brutality, and more. Romy Hall performs an introspective of h...
  • Meredith
    So, so, so good. Keenly observed and atmospheric, without feeling subtly braggy about the author's preparatory research. Kushner is so gifted at crafting a female narrator that is feminine and introspective, but also strong and declarative.
  • Noreen
    Simply stunning. Kushner gets better and better with each book. The Flamethrowers was excellent, but this novel coheres even more and challenges the reader’s perceptions at every turn. And the prose is gorgeous. She has an innate feel for the rhythms of language and puts it to perfect use here.
  • Carolyn
    Many thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for an advance copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. I thought I would be among the intended audience for The Mars Room, having read both fictional and non-fictional books about prison life I have watched all the Orange is the New Black series and thought it was just OK, but my favourite all time TV shows were the much darker, grittier Wentworth (life inside an Australian women's...
  • Laurie
    Kushner explores the unknowability of women in the penal system with unflinching candor and empathy. By sheer coincidence, I started reading this book days after wrapping my role as a CO on Orange is the New Black; you might think a novel set primarily in a women's prison was the last thing I wanted to read. But it was the perfect compliment to the feeling of helplessness I felt after leaving set. Romy Hall is not a victim, though she has been re...
  • Tess
    A breath-taking, whirlwind of a novel. Not for the faint of heart, the novel swirls around a women's prison, focusing on a single mother recently incarcerated for a life sentence. As Kushner takes on a tour of those surrounding the main character, we are taken through various time periods, prisons, and escape routes. The novel is haunting, and I'm sure will be a huge hit.
  • Michelle Hart
    imagine orange is the new black as written by mary gaitskill and you have rachel kushner's the mars room, a compelling--if not too bleak--novel about a single mother serving a life sentence. Written in graceful, muscular prose, the book alternates back and forth between Romy's time behind bars and the dire circumstances of her life leading up to her arrest, when she was making ends meet as a dancer at a gentleman's club in an unseen, seedy San Fr...
  • Sarah
    Fascinating read. Rachel Kushner has the ability to transport a reader with her storytelling. While reading this book, I was thoroughly engrossed in the world she created. I really enjoyed her writing style.The Mars Room paints a decidedly gloomy picture of life in women's prison. Our main protagonist is Romy Hall, convicted of murder, and sentenced to life. Her case is decidedly murky, was it self defense or outright murder? Like many, she canno...
  • hannah (faerystories)
    I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest reviewAlso posted on my blog.--The Mars Room begins as Romy Hall starts her two consecutive life sentences in a women's prison. The book follows Romy as she learns how to survive her new world, and flashes back to show the life she led before her incarceration.  This is a really harsh book. The author does not shy away from bluntly showing the genuinely upsetting natur...
  • Paul Pessolano
    “The Mars Room” by Rachel Kushner, published by Scribner.Category – Fiction/Literature Publication Date – May 01, 2018.Romy Hall is a young lady who has been sentenced to two life terms for murder. She is serving her time at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility in California.Romy, at the time of her sentencing, is a mother of Jackson her 4 year old son. The story tells of her attempts at trying to get information concerning her son o...
  • Linda Quinn
    For fans of Orange is the New Black, this is a much more nuanced look at life inside our broken justice system. It took me longer to read than it should have because while it depicts what the inmates do to survive it also shows that there is very little hope for those who are facing life or multiple life sentences mostly due to poor representation from public defenders. Mostly I just found this to be really sad.
  • Kayo
    Wanted to like this more. A bit disjointed, not flowing story. Thanks to author, publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read. While I got the book for free it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
  • Mike
    A young woman desperately tries to connect with her adolescent son while she grows accustomed to the harsh realities of a lifetime in prison.Incredible writing and memorable characters are the foundations of this grim yet, at times, hopeful novel.
  • Megan Sullivan
    If I could give it 6 stars, I would. This is the best book I've read in a long time. Kushner delivers an unforgettable novel set in a women's prison in 2003. Romy Hall is serving 2 life sentences and finds herself in Stanville Women's Correctional Facility after murdering a man. How she got there and what's happens takes up the rest of the novel. Kushner shows the inhumanity of prison life and brings a wide cast of characters. This book sticks wi...
  • Brianne Sperber
    Excellent. Mesmerizing. Kushner is at the top of her game.
  • Candace
    I was thrilled to be approved to read "The Mars Room" and even more thrilled to read it. The story is immediately engaging, each character is bright and immediate, and you crave learning more. Romy Hall is sentenced to life in prison for killing a man who has stalked her since she was giving lap dances in a San Francisco "Gentleman's Club" called the Mars Room. Romy has had a rough life with an uninterested mother, occasional sex work and the lif...