04 January 2011

Book Review: Room

Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
Publisher/Year: Little Brown / Sept. 2010
Date Finished: 19 December 2010
Source/Format: Bought/eBook

Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid

Challenges: 100+ Reading, Hogwarts Reading Challenge, Reading Resolutions,

The Short and Sweet of It
Room is narrated by Jack, a five-year-old boy who has never been outside the room where he lives with his mother. Reading a book like this is painful, but the art employed by Donoghue in telling this story outweighs any trepidation over the content.

A Bit of a Ramble
Really the only thing I want to talk about with this book in the narration. Donoghue never wavers, never puts a toe outside the boundaries of the point of view she has chosen. And what a difficult point of view! Writing from the perspective of a five-year-old is complicated enough. Throw in the unique situation Jack was born in to, and the possibilities for kitsch or cliche or just plain old Epic Fail are tremendous. But I was impressed throughout the book by the believability and sincerity I felt from the narration.

The narration was not only remarkable because of the talent required, it also completely changed the tone of the novel and seriously elevated the creepiness. While Jack recounts certain events in his precocious but still childish way, readers are able to easily infer the real horror of the situation, and this juxtaposition of innocence and evil is highly disturbing.

A Bookish Connection: I can't help but be reminded of Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott, in which a young girl is kidnapped and held for five years as a daughter/wife to her captor. Living Dead Girl is a first person account from the perspective of the fifteen-year-old girl, and much like with Room, this elevated the emotional attachment I had to the story.


This Book Around the Web
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21 comments:

  1. Both this and Living Dead Girl are on my tbr list. I need to make time for both soon!

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  2. I loved this book - I finished it on the 31st, even though I had planned to finish it on the 1st and have it be my first book of 2011. I didn't think it would be so good that I couldn't put it down!

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  3. I have heard mixed things about this book but I'm happy to know you enjoyed it. That makes me hopeful!

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  4. Two new books on my list--this one and Living Dead Girl. Thanks!

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  5. "BUY" Huh? I've heard such great things about this one, which means I probably won't read it for another year or so when it cools down enough for me to bite.

    Narration is one of my favorite literary elements--can be so effective if done well!

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  6. I listened to it, and Jack and Ma were great, but it was very disconcerting that Old Nick and Steppa seemed to be done by the same voice!

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  7. This was one of my best books of the year, and you are right that the narration was just spot on. I was also thinking of The Living Dead Girl last night for some reason, and the fact that you mention that they are similar really piques my interest. I am going to have to go grab that one out of the pile and give it a read. Thanks for the excellent review!

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  8. This was one helluva book. I thought the narration was genius. How on earth could an adult woman (even one who has toddlers) get into that mindset every time she sat down to write? She also really got creative with the IMPLICATIONS of the situation...like how Jack wouldn't know how to walk up and down stairs, would easily catch colds, or have an issue with the sun. Remarkable.

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  9. That's a great way to describe it -- the juxtaposition of innocence and evil. It's so true...

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  10. This was one of my favourite books last year. I will have to look out for Living Dead Girl.

    My review is here

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  11. Yay so glad you enjoyed this one! I thought it was phenomenal.

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  12. I so agree that Donohue deserves serious props for committing to the narrative device she picks. I can see how easy it would have been to shift the point of view to Ma in the middle of the book.

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  13. I can't wait to read this! I may have to give in and actually buy a copy.

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  14. OOH! I was so excited to see you read this ... wasnt it.... isnt it..... well you know! :)

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  15. I was blown away by this one and just reviewed it last month here...

    http://avidreader25.blogspot.com/2010/12/book-reviews-room.html

    I agree that the narration was believeable and the story was powerful!

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  16. I'm glad you've marked this one "buy," as I already have a copy waiting for me. Now I just have to find the time to read it...!

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  17. It was quite a balancing act she pulled off, wasn't it? And I felt the same way about Jack's innocent view of pure evil ... and how it made tempered it (in some ways) but made it even more horrible in others.

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  18. Wow! I have never heard of this one. Thanks for introducing it.

    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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  19. Two new books on my list--this one and Living Dead Girl. how sad....

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