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Thursday, November 10, 2016

[Review]* Room by Emma Donoghue


To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

Summary & Cover taken from
Length: 321 (Trade Paperback)
Available Formats: Print/E-book/E-audiobook/Audiobook (CD)
Publication Date: September 13th 2010 by Little, Brown and Company

I remember when this book first came out, and all the hype that surrounded it at the time. I remember it because I still fairly new to Goodreads, and my favourite Goodreads group and it was ALL that everyone was talking about. So, naturally I put it on hold. 6 years ago. I missed the hold for the book though and, while I kept meaning to read it over the years, but like many books it kept getting to the bottom of the list until August, when I finally picked it up to read.

Now, maybe it's because I hate it when a book is really hyped up, especially contemporary fiction. It's not my preferred genre and so I suppose that's why I didn't pick it up sooner. So when I saw it on the library shelf back in August, I really surprised myself by borrowing it.

I pretty much started reading it immediately and I went in with mediocre expectations, just because books that are so hyped up (especially with it having a movie out) don't really meet my expectations when I set them any higher than that. I'm glad I went into it without expecting it to be great because for me it just wasn't. Now I'm not bashing it but it really was a blah read for me. There were some high points, but there was a lot of frustration for me in reading it as well and it isn't like it took me more than a day to read it.

While I commend Emma Donoghue for bringing a child's point of view to what would have been a harsh topic written from an adult's point of view I found it irritating at the same time. Perhaps it's because Jack was so young, and I'd have liked it if he were a couple of years older. I sympathized with Ma, and her struggle in raising Jack in the confines of room but my gosh he annoyed me and I feel as though he was too simplified a character. Yes he had more innocence because of his upbringing but he just got on my nerves more often than not because he was all that of a selfish child and more.

Ma, god I hate referring to her as that was an interesting character. She was a young woman stuck in a horrible situation trying to make the most of her captivity and her subsequent rapes and raise a 5 year old and I think that the author did a great job in portraying her and her struggle and how she had to teach her son about the world without him actually understanding that there was such a world outside of Room, but she too fell flat in many ways for me.

To me it felt as thought the characters were being forced into being so deep and profound and trying to get me the reader to take a philosophical view of the heart of them and their story that they were kind of deflated and two dimensional. Even Old Nick, their captor who didn't play a huge character role in the story was more of a prop than anything from Jack's point of view their just wasn't enough going on in the story to really catch me.

I suppose, my issues come back to the story being one that is immensely complex being told from the point of view of someone who is far to young to understand and be able to relate what is going on in his surroundings into an intelligible coherent story for me. I think the idea was a great one to try in writing from Jack's point of view and it did pose some interesting questions and make me think about life and how nature and nurture help us a lot in our perceptions of reality and how reality in and of itself is not as linear and uniform as one might think but the story was neither long enough and the simplistic writing style for Jack's point of view did make sense but it was also the biggest drawback because of how frustrating the child's mind narrated it.

There was a definite message to the story but the writing just did not work for me. It neither went above or under my expectations, but I admit I was disappointed that it wasn't better than it was. I wanted to like it more than I did but I just couldn't get over the simplistic writing because of the style in which the author chose to write it. She wanted to comer such an emotionally charged issue such as kidnapping, confinement, rape and rearing a child alone in a shack but the writing style didn't allow for the story to really grab me. I felt like key issues in the story dealing with the characters were ignored and others just didn't make sense albeit from a child's point of view somethings wouldn't.

This was just one of those reads that frustrated me but more than that, just ended up very bland. Many describe it as one of those polarizing love it or hate it read but I neither loved it nor hate it. It just was if that makes any sense. I think that's why it has taken me so long to relay my thoughts on it. My hope though is that the movie is able to grab my attention but even that I will be going into with the bar set low.

Will I try the author again? I'm not sure. I might but I am not in any rush. I am not blacklisting her by any means but I am not going to go out of my way to borrow or buy her books. If I pick up another of her novels one day than that's great if not I won't be regretting it. My advice to someone considering this book would be to go in with an open mind not expecting to love or hate it and just give it a chance. Ultimately I'm glad this was a book I borrowed from the library because I could return it as soon as I was done with it, so if you have the option I suggest borrowing over buying

Just an Okay Read

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  1. I know you been talking about this book a while. It's to bad it didn't really reach its full potential. The perspective from a child in that situation is quite a choice to go with, but absolutely it has to really be able to grab the reader

    1. Yeah this one was a bit on the fluffy side, not dark enough for me. It felt like the story was trying on it's mama's clothes and couldn't make it work.

  2. I found this a very hard read though I did read it through. It was very disturbing.

    1. It seems to hit people a lot or not at all in terms of subject matter. Thanks for stopping by Mystica.

  3. I feel that way about several books I've read. It's such a sad moment, but it is what it is. Maybe if the book had been written as the MC looked back on childhood rather than as a 5 year old it would have worked better?

    1. Exactly! If it was more of a memory rather than a complete narrative from Jack's 5 year old self it definitely would have worked better for me.

  4. I liked it because it was from his POV, but then The Outside, just not as good

    1. Yes, once he was Outside, I felt like it got quite convoluted.

  5. I know this was very popular, but it never spoke to me. Wonderful breakdown of your thoughts.

    1. Thanks, I think the popularity was what really killed it for me.

  6. It's been awhile since I read this book (like, 4 or 5 years!) but I remember wondering what the heck was going on because like you said, as a child, he couldn't understand what was going on, and I found it hard to see what was going on! Well, until I didn't! Great review! Thanks for stopping by! Happy reading!


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