Thursday, January 13, 2011

review: room by emma donoghue

Note: I tried very hard to write this review without spoilers, but found that I couldn't explain why I eventually enjoyed the book without including one from the middle of the book.

Initially, I was turned off by the child narrator of Room. Although the only world he’s ever known is inside the room where his kidnapped mother gave birth to him, Jack is very much a bratty five year old. His constant whining and obnoxiousness made me put the book down on a number of occasions. I think what annoyed me most was how Jack spoke/thought. Even though he hears his mother speak normally and watches TV (which he believes to be some sort of fake universe even when watching the news), his speech patterns are hard to take. This is how Jack describes breakfast: “I count one hundred cereal and waterfall the milk that’s nearly the same white as the bowls, no splashing, we thank Baby Jesus.” Ugh. Everything is like that.

Thankfully (and this is where spoilers start to come in) the situation changes about midway through the book. That’s when Ma finally gets motivated to escape. Once more characters came into play, Jack came in smaller doses and I found him easier to stomach. Emma Donoghue redeemed the wretched start of the book by crafting a very interesting tale of Jack learning about the world outside captivity, Ma getting reacquainted with it, and how their family, their caretakers, and all the strangers they encounter react.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Little, Brown.

1 comment:

  1. I read this a few months back for bookclub. I have children around Jack's age and in some ways I was appaled by him. **spoiler: I was glad they later said he was somewhat mentally retarded**. It explained a lot. I did enjoy the book by the time I finished it. It was one that I think would have been better if after the escape we switched to Ma's point of view. Or even the grandma's point of view to get a better look at the two of them and what they were actually like.