Ever since last Summer this book has generated such a buzz that everywhere I turned in the blogosphere the word ROOM in red capital letter staring at my face. I am the last person in the universe that has yet to read the book, that is until now….
Is there any wonder why I have sweaty palms about writing this review? 😦
I’m sure everyone knows the plot by heart now but in case I have Alzheimers towards the end of my life, I’ll just include a synopsis here to remind what this book is all about!
‘Room’ opens with the fifth birthday of Jack. Slowly he describes his typical day in his endearing ways, we come to realise that he is describing a confined place, a room, he was born and has lived with his mother with ‘Old Nick’ who comes by at night and brings them food and Sunday treats and most disturbing part for me was Jack hidden in the wardrobe and the creaking of the bed. Perhaps it is best if the book Room was not so well loved, because before I read the book I more or less know the premise of the book, it takes all the fun out of it. and Yes, Donoghue wrote this book inspired by the Fritzl case, where Elisabeth Fritzl and her children were found to have been incarcerated in the basement of their captor’s (in this case, Joseph Fritzl, the woman’s father and children’s father/grandfather) house in Austria, which proves to be the most chilling and horrifying crime that churns my tummy every time it is mentioned.
The Room is a eleven feet by eleven feet and converted garden shed with a security door and a skylight. It is set somewhere in America. Jack’s Ma was abducted at the age of 19 and has been incarcerated for 6 years.
I thought the creative use of language through Jack was a ingenuous. The little thing that he appreciates and the self-devised games was endearing. But here’s the problem..
It was an ok read but I thought it was meh.
May contain spoilers
I was kind of surprised that little Jack made his escape so early in the book and the rest of the book was spent talking about Jack and mental disorder Ma adjusting to the real world after 6 years of incarceration. The other half of story became a little superfluous for an otherwise a heavy subject of the premise. Ma was rude to the nurses and Grandma (Ma’s mother) was complaining about having Jack with her and I thought: is this necessary? Maybe the writer was trying to project Ma in a very unstable state of mind but it came out quite disjointed. It is like Ma is all out to be rude (to the nurses and her own mother) rather than experiencing mental health issue. Say if the book was to play out the innocence of Jack and the tension of the days in the Room side by side, I think it would have stood a chance to sit alongside the works of literary greats.
Perhaps like Ti of Book Chatter I’m the sort who like to read this sort of books from Ma’s perspective. It would be harrowing but at least it feels grounded and set out not to make light of the circumstances both mother and child were in.
I read this in one day. It does feels gimmicky, the escape plan immature and flawed, aftermath frivolous and loose. All I really like about the book was the creative use of language from Jack.
I’m generally attuned to what people say is a good book. A lot of recommendations I picked up, it hardly disappoints. It is strange to find myself put off by this book.
This is heralded as the best book of 2010, today I saw the ad on a bus, the book is publicised everywhere I look. Tell me, am I the only who thinks the book is meh? is it all the hype that break it for me? Did I miss something?
I had never felt my views this polarised from everyone else’s until now. 😦
Other views (every blogger I know has read it!)
Ti of Book Chatter: Room boasts an original premise but falls flat from overly simplistic writing and one-dimensional characters.
Rhapsody in Books: This book tells a nightmarish story, and yet, since it comes entirely from five-year-old Jack’s perspective, it is much less disturbing than it could have been.
Matt@ A Guy’s Moleskine Notebook: The one flaw that offsets the unique premise and creativity of the book is the lack of depth in which Donoghue would explore the gamut of emotions that should befall anyone who has been held in captivity for years. Consider the details (at times contrived) she goes into the regimened life in the Room, the post-liberation life is drawing a blank, which is a grave oversight. There exists an unforgivable disconnection between the intense trauma during captivity and the casual voice with which the novel is told.
Vishy’s Blog: Room’ is one of the most beautiful books that I have ever read. Fellow book blogger Kelly says that it is a book that should be read by everyone. I second her. Go get it today and read it.
Bookie Mee: I was a bit impatient at the beginning about the description of their day to day life and Jack’s voice felt somewhat gimmicky. But the pace started to move quicker after the circumstances have been fully introduced and he really grew on me. I was very fond of him at the end and satisfied with the ending
Jackie @Farmlane Books: Room is easy to read and will have broad appeal. I’m sure I’ll be thinking about Jack for many years to come and I know that since finishing the book I’ve been looking at the way I spend time with my own sons slightly differently.
Simon@Savidge Read: A book that will: quite possibly leave you a little breathless and remind you what reading is all about and may have you running out to buy it for everyone you know. 10/10
This book is shortlisted for 2010 Man Booker Prize and now Orange Prize 2011.
Paperback. Publisher: Picador 2010; Length: 401 pages ; Setting: Present day America. Source: My own copy. Finished reading at: 29 May 2010.
About the Writer:
Emma Donoghue (born 24 October 1969) is an Irish-born playwright, literary historian and novelist now living in Canada. Her 2010 novel Room was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize and an international bestseller. Donoghue’s 1995 novel Hood won the Stonewall Book Award and Slammerkin (2000) won the Ferro-Grumley Award. Her most recent collection of short stories, Touchy Subjects was published in 2006.