Book Review: Mars Girls by Mary Turzillo

Bex's Book Reviews: insights from a book-a-day addict

Apex Book Company: Probing Your Imagination Since 2005!Today’s stop on the Apex Back Catalog Blog Tour is sadly the last one I’ll be hosting although my writing group INKubator has one to post yet. I hope to review more Apex awesomeness in the future, however, as I definitely don’t want to give up a publisher that can squeeze so many stars out of me.

My book to review today is Mars Girls by Mary Turzillo. This is one of the books Lesley Conner suggested I might enjoy, and she was right.

Mars Girls by Mary Turzillo cover artThe first thing I realized about this book was that the voice is much different from most of the other things I’ve read from Apex, including the majority of shorts in the couple mixed-author collections I’ve read. Don’t open this one expecting a dark, brooding tone. Despite dealing with some serious topics, the voice is surprisingly chipper. Both main characters have a certain youthful optimism that pervades the entire story in a cheeriness I hadn’t expected after selections like Sing Me Your Scars or The Kraken Sea.

But this vivaciousness is appealing in its own way and the tension of the plot will keep you turning pages. I am impressed by the variety and consistency of the world’s created vernacular and slang. The immediate understandability kept me rooted in the story and the word choices helped bring this future Mars colony to life.

Mars Girls has very much a YA feel to it. I don’t have kids myself, but I’d definitely be happy to read this one with my teen nieces and nephews. It’s probably a bit beyond what the 8-year-old would be ready for, but likely by the time she’s twelve. But don’t let the young protagonists turn you off as an adult reader either. The plot and worldbuilding was plenty strong enough to keep me enthralled.

Both main characters are extremely well-developed. They have strengths and weaknesses and progress and grow through their journey.

Only one thing about this book didn’t work well for me. And that’s on me, not the author. The one main character was extremely boy-fixated and I never connected well with that. I hated it as a teen girl myself and don’t love it now. But the attitudes of the second main character and alternating POVs kept it from being enough to put me off the book.

Overall I really enjoyed the writing. It kept me turning pages and kept my mind off my usual aches and pains exactly like I need books to do. I don’t have enough science background to comment on the viability of the tech, but it seemed credible to me and nothing ever felt off.

I’d definitely be interested in more stories from this world or other works by this author. That’s really the most telling thing of how good fiction is–whether the author has me eager to come back for more.

Overall I’d give it 4 stars, but the only negative here is personal taste. Don’t let my own teenage baggage keep you from checking out this adventure. And remember that the second MC is a very different character and provides an excellent counterpoint perspective.

The girls deserve for you to get to know them and their world yourself and make your own decision. Or for you to share them with a young adult reader. Hook that next generation of speculative fiction readers while you can!


There isn’t much left of September, so you might want to hurry up and take advantage of Apex’s special sale in connection to this blog tour. They’re offering 25% off everything in the Apex store all month long with discount code SEPTEMBER. So this is a great time to check out the tour, pick some favorites, and do a little shopping. If you’re on twitter, search for the hashtag #backcatalogblogtour to find all the reviews and interviews throughout the month.

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