Sunday, February 27, 2011

ROOM by Emma Donoghue (✰✰✰✰✰)

Of all the books that I have ever reviewed, I think that this one is the toughest to do without any spoilers. I was very tempted to plaster a warning on my write-up and go for it, quotes and all, but have decided in the end for a quick, unrevealing version. 

Due to its celebrity, this was a novel which I approached with some caution. When a book is over-hyped, I tend to walk away disappointed because it didn't live up to my expectations. This was certainly not the best novel I ever read, but it stands out in several respects by virtue of sheer originality. 

Room is, in brief, the story of a nineteen year old woman who is abducted and held captive in an eleven by eleven foot square modified shed, where she spends seven years in captivity and bears a son, Jack. 

We see their minuscule world through the eyes of Jack, at the age of five. Jack as narrator was an amazing device for author Emma Donoghue to use and one she pulls off with astonishing aplomb. As I read her stream of conscience type prose, I could hear the voice of a young child in my head. Some reviewers have had difficulty adjusting to the style, but to me it was flawless and perfect for setting the tone of the book, especially in the second half. 

The second thing that really stood out for me was Ms. Donoghue's amazing attention to the smallest details. She thought of things that never would have even occurred to me, and as a result, the narrative was completely believable throughout.

These two factors, the choice and deft handling of the narrator, and her incredible consideration of every possible element of setting and characterization, earn this novel five stars from me.


  1. So many people seem to be reading this one. I can't decide whether or not to give it a try or not. As you said, I've heard mixed things about it (some like the narrative of the little child and others can't adjust). And you know how I feel about over-hyped books a lot of the time. I'm sure I'll pick it up eventually. I feel myself getting ready to give in.

  2. I haven't tried this one yet either, but keep reading the rave reviews. (I think I am stuck on the idea of being in one room for a whole book, no matter how well written.) But I will probably get there too, really enjoyed hearing what you thought!

  3. The whole one room thing made me not want to read it as well, but let's just say that there is more to it.