Room

Author: Emma Donoghue
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

I have got to stop reading depressing books.  I have a tendency to get too involved and take it to heart and it wrecks me.  Room just finished doing that to me.

I’m sure if you’ve heard of the book/movie by now, then you know the plot, so I’m not even going to attempt to summarize it for you.  I will say that the book is told in the POV of Jack, who has just turned five years old.  I think this is both a strength and a weakness to the plot.  On one hand, in the second half of the book it opens it up to chaos and discovery and anarchy, which only makes the book better.  On the other hand, I think it takes away a bit of the empathy.  Since Jack doesn’t understand what’s going on a lot of the time, he isn’t too worried or scared.  So even though I know this terrible thing is happening, since he isn’t emotionally invested a lot of the time, I’m not either.  And his almost clinical descriptions of Ma’s struggle lack understanding, so I even fail to emphasize with her a lot as well.

Also, his vocabulary.  I know Donoghue points on it that he can spell V-O-L-C-A-N-O with his cereal and why, but it just seems so inconsistent to me, how he can go from saying the plural of hippopotamus (which I don’t even know) to Room and Duvet and Rug, etc. etc.  I think that takes a little bit of the realism away from the story for me.

Oh, and the music videos.  That little detail there really got me.  As someone who lives with a cheapo antennae and no cable, I can tell you with certainty that none of the three broadcast channels they are picking up in Room is going to be playing any rap videos at all.  In fact, a lot of the shows he watches on TV don’t seem realistic.  And I realize I’m nitpicking, but it’s these few small details that really keep me from immersing myself completely into the story.

The rest though?  It’s good.  So good.  I still teared up a few times, and the ending is perfect.  And while Ma ends up being a little selfish and a little annoying, it’s to be expected.  I certainly don’t blame her.  And she has some memorable lines that I’ll take with me out of this book and that will live on.

Oh man.  I think I need some ice cream and a stupid comedy to bring myself down after this one.

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