Sunday, March 13, 2011

Group Review: Room

Summary: In many ways, Jack is a typical 5-year-old. He likes to read books, watch TV, and play games with his Ma. But Jack is different in a big way--he has lived his entire life in a single room, sharing the tiny space with only his mother and an unnerving nighttime visitor known as Old Nick. For Jack, Room is the only world he knows, but for Ma, it is a prison in which she has tried to craft a normal life for her son. When their insular world suddenly expands beyond the confines of their four walls, the consequences are piercing and extraordinary. Despite its profoundly disturbing premise, Emma Donoghue's Room is rife with moments of hope and beauty, and the dogged determination to live, even in the most desolate circumstances. A stunning and original novel of survival in captivity, readers who enter Room will leave staggered, as though, like Jack, they are seeing the world for the very first time.

Alice's Review: I want to start off by saying that if Julie hadn’t suggested Room: A Novel as part of our Swap Challenge, I probably wouldn’t have read it. Since I finished it this morning, I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Ms. Donoghue came up with a very original idea, the story of young mother and son held captive in a Room for 7 years. What makes this novel very interesting to me is that it’s told in the voice of a 5 year old boy. Don’t let his age fool you, he’s not like any 5 year old you will ever meet.

I didn’t know anything about this novel beforehand and I embraced reading it, never knowing what was going to come next. There were times when I couldn’t put it down and had I had the time, I probably would have finished it in one sitting. I loved Jack as the narrator. I enjoyed hearing the story told strictly from his special 5 year old point of view. Jack made me laugh and he broke my heart. I loved how he was scave (a combo of scared and brave). I loved how protective he was of Ma, his constant companion. I loved how he made friends with the things in Room, how he gave them a name and a personality. I really enjoyed going through all his new experiences with him. Ms. Donoghue’s does a brilliant job in keeping the novel in Jack’s voice. The way she describes his experiences with new things is well, amazing. I never doubted whose story this was.

There were a couple characters I really liked. I especially liked Steppa. I thought he showed his mettle by stepping up and become a friend and grandfather to Jack when he really needed one. And of course I liked Jack. I enjoyed the time I spent roaming around that little boys head.

There is only one thing that happens in the book that I just don’t understand. Personally, I think it’s out of character for Ma. I guess what bothers me the most about it is the way it affects Jack. He’s been through enough already.

Truth be told, I would like to revisit this novel again. Like all good books, I know there are things I missed that I will see the second time around. Although if I’m being honest, I’ll revisit this novel again to spend time with Jack. I’ve grown quite fond of him.

Final Take: 4/5

Julie's Review: The buzz, oh the buzz surrounding this book has been incredible! Unlike the buzz for Franzen's novel Freedom, the buzz has been overwhelmingly positive and embracing of the accolades Ms. Donoghue has received. So you can only imagine my expectations going into this book and while I don't think it was the best book I've read in a long time, it certainly was interesting, intriguing and well crafted.

Room: A Novel tells the incredible story of Ma and Jack who have been held captive in a tool shed for years. Jack is a precocious 5 year old boy who is extremely bright and loving but thinks that everything on tv is pretend. Ma has her bouts with depression but is doing an incredible job with Jack. She is trying to make Room seem as normal as possible, since it's all he's known.

I think it was extremely clever how Ms. Donoghue had everything in Room capitalized. For Jack, they were his world and what he knows. It's how a 5 year old would view the world. I did feel that the first section dragged on a bit. I wanted to get to the Dying, After and Living parts. I understand why the section was long and detailed, Ms. Donoghue wanted the reader to get a sense of what Jack and Ma's world has been for the last 5-7 years. As a mother of a 5 year old, my hat is off to Ma. I would have gone crazy being holed up but if it's all the kid has known maybe entertaining them wouldn't be so bad.

What I enjoyed was the aftermath of being in Room. The psychological hold that it has both Ma and Jack. While the world may be overwhelming for Jack; it is extremely daunting for Ma. She has to acclimate herself to the world outside of Room. She has to begin to re-establish relationships with her family and friends, while helping Jack understand the world.

This last 3 parts move along quickly, with me on the edge of my seat during Dying. That being said, I felt that the ending was rushed. Both in the sense of wrapping up the story and of bringing the victims back to the scene so quickly after their rescue.

I have a feeling that Jack will be able to move on in his life quicker than Ma. Kids are extremely resilient and he'll get used to the world and move on. Ma will have a harder time adjusting to everyone and everything around her. She will have a harder time forgetting her time in Room and moving on to a normal life.

Overall, it was a satisfying read about a difficult situation and very well written. It certainly is a unique book and a unique voice for the main character.

Julie's Final Take: 4/5



Stephanie March 14, 2011 at 2:16 PM  

Great reviews! Even though I was one of the few who didn't love this book, I really do enjoy reading what other people thought of it.

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