Room

Room, by Emma Donoghue, a book that I’ve seen dozens of posts about on wordpress.  Every post that I saw talking about the book made it sound very interesting, and it was an interesting book, definitely one of the more interesting premises for a book that I’ve seen in some time.  This review will have some spoilers a little further into the book than I usually go, but I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from reading the book by including them.  The purpose to reading this book especially is to see the character of Jack as he deals with his surroundings.

Book Stats

321 pages

Drama (once again, the catch-all category)

Stand Alone book

Characters

The book centers on Jack, a 5 year old boy who has spent his entire life in an 11 foot square room with his mother.  Jack is very intelligent and inquisitive, but he knows nothing of the world outside of Room.  The first half of the book is simply Jack with his Ma in the Room.  It’s interesting seeing how Jack makes sense of some things that we take for granted every day.  How he doesn’t think that TV is real in any way, how he knows next to nothing about money or stores or toys.  It was interesting to read about the games that Ma and Jack played as ways to help pass the time.  Later in the book, once Jack and Ma escape from the Room, watching Jack adjust to life outside and having to deal with other people is brilliantly done.  The juxtaposition of his amazing intelligence for being 5 years old combined with absolutely no social skills (other than dealing with his mother) make for some unusual circumstances that seemed natural to me.  I’d never want to see someone go through what they had to in this story, but if they did I could easily imagine that their reactions would be very similar to those of the characters in the story.  As brilliantly as Jack’s character was written, there were times that I questioned his mother.  Her actions seemed a little forced to me and in some ways were only there to push Jack in a certain direction for the story.  It’s hard to say that that is why she acts the way she does at times (especially since we never see her thoughts, the story is told from Jack’s point of view) but I really questioned her actions from time to time.

Setting

An 11 foot square room made out of a garden shed for half the book, then out in the real world for the other half.

Plot

The book follows Jack and Ma as they live in Room for several days, followed by their escape from Room and their captor and their readjustment into normal life as Jack has never known it, and Ma has been a prisoner for 7 years.

Enjoyment

Telling the story from Jack’s viewpoint was an original idea and it was done very well.  It allowed Donoghue to talk about some really horrible things in a very subtle way by having Jack talk about the sensory experiences he has rather than simply saying what is happening.  There were also some fun moments that made Jack’s mother seem very real as a character, mentioning that she had the book Twilight in the room and then her being very happy as her mom gives her three other books (obviously the rest of the Twilight series).  I liked the book, but in all honesty I was a little irritated that she was never able to break out.  The door lock had a numeric keypad, say the kidnapper used a 4 digit code, that’s only 10,000 possible combinations to the lock.  She and Jack tried different combinations, but seriously, if you have absolutely nothing else to do but try to escape, how long would it really take you to try 10,000 combinations? 2 days?  That seemed like a bit of a stretch to me, but obviously the book doesn’t work if she’s not still in the room with a 5 year old son.  It was just a minor pet peeve that wore on me throughout the book.

Overall Grade

I enjoyed the book.  I’m glad that I read it and I think it was very thought-provoking.  Jack was a wonderfully written character, but there were other aspects to the book that I thought could have worked better.  All in all, a book I would suggest.

7/10

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3 Comments

  1. I read this book and I was hooked 4 pages in. I loved it and I hope there is a part two with her going to court and Jake growing up. Thanks for the review. Great job!

    Reply
    • I don’t know if a second book would work as well as this one did. The main conflicts in a second book wouldn’t be nearly as original or as interesting as this one. The trial would be a fairly open and shut case, and while there would be some interesting moments of Jake’s mother having to face her kidnapper in court, but that would be a short scene without a whole lot of conflict. As for Jake growing up, there wouldn’t be too much of a story there beyond what normally happens with a kid going to school. He is very intelligent and even by the end of this book he was beginning to transition into normal society. There might be a few odd moments as he started going to school, but I don’t see that story being enough to drive a book.

      Reply

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