Book Review: “Mars Madness” by Jodi Bowersox

I didn’t know what to expect from this book. It’s a romance, but obviously in a sci-fi setting. The premise is that a company has created a lottery, the winner of which will receive a trip to Mars.

Recent divorcee Katrina buys one ticket, largely to appease her daughter Francesca. Francesca has been lobbying her to buy it chiefly because Francesca’s father, Katrina’s ex-husband Doug, is a spokesman for the lottery, and Francesa hopes that if Katrina wins, it might spark a reconciliation.

Both Katrina and Doug still have some lingering feelings for each other, although there’s no doubt they have major differences too. They are sort of an “odd couple,” with Katrina being super-organized and fastidious about cleanliness, while Doug is a spontaneous, rough-and-tumble outdoorsman.

And, fairly early on in the book, both Kat and Doug meet attractive romantic prospects. Ariel Anderson, a wealthy and influential woman, who guides Doug and Francesca on a trip to a horse ranch in Montana, is practically flinging herself at Doug. Meanwhile, when her robot maid, Minnie, begins behaving strangely, Katrina meets a handsome and eager young robot repair technician.

You probably won’t be surprised that Katrina wins that trip to Mars, but that’s only the beginning–from there follows a hilarious chain of events during the long voyage to the Red Planet. From a mystery involving a plan to breed horses on Mars, to the hilarious antics of Minnie the robot, to the rom-com hijinks as Doug and Katrina try to sort out their feelings, the book goes from one hilarious episode to another. There were quite a few moments where I laughed out loud.

And, incredibly, despite it being such a wild and unlikely set of occurrences, the underlying plot is actually a tight thriller. The climax caught me by surprise, but it felt satisfying and tied things up well.

Basically, this book was way better than I was expecting. It was funny, sweet, and clever. The characters are all well-written and enjoyable. If there was any flaw, it was that the antagonist’s motives were a little vague. But, it really didn’t bother me; the main thing is the satisfying resolution of Katrina and Doug’s arcs. Also, while the extremely-human behavior of some of the robots was something that might not normally sit well with me, I found it worked here. I think it’s because this is a comedy, and taking it in that spirit, the robots’ antics are some of the funniest scenes in the book.

Mars Madness is a delightful romantic comedy, with great characters and a wonderful premise. I recommend it highly.


    1. I’ve always loved Mars stories, so I decided to make March (since it is also named after the god of war) Mars book month.

      Next week, I’ll be moving away from Mars to a book set on Titan, the moon of Saturn. 🙂

  1. Hmm…is this a thriller with a bit of romance? A comedy with a bit of romance? Or a romance with a bit of humour and a thriller type plot? I’m okay with the first two, not so much with the last one. That said, your recommendation of Litka really hit the mark so I’m keeping an open mind. 😀

    1. It’s tough to categorize, but I’d say it’s a romantic comedy, with unexpected thriller elements. The core plot is a romance, but there are tons of humorous moments along the way.

      That said, I know you don’t like robots who act human, and there is a lot of that in this book. I could accept it, since the whole thing is meant as comedic fluff anyway, but fair warning if that’s an immersion-breaker for you. 🙂

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