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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
NASA’s 1st Mission to Mars – For What?!!! by brothers Michael and Danny D’Agostino is a satirical farce that takes a down-and-out, homeless man to become the first human to set foot on the red planet, Mars. Stanley Marczek is a man struggling to survive and avoid his grasping ex-wife who has already taken him for everything he has. Stanley, or Jokesy as he is commonly referred to by his friends, is penniless and living in a tent city with other homeless people in a junkyard on the south side of Chicago. He and his compadres make what little they can by begging at the intersections in the mean city streets. When NASA announces they are looking for a suitable candidate to be the first astronaut to land on Mars, and they will pay well for the privilege, Jokesy sees an opportunity for him and his friends to escape the deprivations of homelessness and poverty. To everyone’s surprise, Jokesy’s scores on the screening tests are phenomenal and before long he and his friends are rolling in cash and, to his horror, preparing for the trip of a lifetime. This is just the start of Jokesy’s journey, though, one that will test his character, laid-back humor, and easy-going approach to life, to the fullest.
NASA’s 1st Mission to Mars – For What?!!! is a genuinely funny story told with wit and imagination by Michael and Danny D’Agostino. Writing good comedy is extremely difficult and this pair has managed to perfectly achieve that delicate balance between satirical farce and stupidity. The characters are all grossly overdrawn but suit the style and the tale exceptionally well. I particularly liked that the authors imbued their lead character Jokesy with a good and caring heart, along with his cutting wit and sarcasm. He never forgot where he came from or the people he shared the hard times with and that allowed the reader to identify and empathize with his, at times, ridiculous situations. I appreciated the bond he created with his Nurse Hannah and especially with the little dog Chichi who was able to keep him sane on the long journey to and from Mars. What was especially pleasing was that the authors used the narrative to pose such a searching question as to why should we spend billions of dollars on a trip to Mars when there is so much here on Earth that needs fixing. That thoughtful and insightful question by Jokesy just gives the book the extra gravitas that it needed. This was a fun read that did indeed have me chuckling along in places with some of Jokesy and his companions' misadventures. For a light read that will surely lift your mood, I can highly recommend this book.