Hey everyone! Today I’m reviewing Room by Emma Donoghue. My thoughts on this book are quite complicated. To sum it up, I think a lot was done right, but I didn’t enjoy reading it at all.
To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
There will be some spoilers in this post.
I’m going to start by talking about the positives. The main themes of the novel, motherhood and the love between mother and child were done very well in my opinion and really shone through. Parenting was discussed a lot. Was Ma a good mother? Should she have given Jack away to have a better life? THose were some of the questions asked, questions that really start a discussion.
I also think the author did a good job on showing a young child discovering the world. The way Jack sees stuff that we find self-evident is very intriguing. This was not only literally (eg a car), but also in things like social expectations. Suddenly, Jack wants his hair to be short, because he sees all the boys have short hair. Jack has to learn manners and that you don’t always say what you think, etc.
It was clear that Donoghue did her research. The effects of living in such a small place for a long time, of being raped on almost a daily basis, of bringing up a child in such cramped quarters, were shown well. The effects on Jack too.
There where also some other good questions asked and discussions started in the novel. What impact do the media have on our society? for example.
This novel goes a lot deeper and I also appreciate that the author focused quite a bit on ‘after’. It wasn’t just that they escaped and that was it. That is not how it is in real life, and I appreciated that that was reflected in the book. Jack and Ma really have to build an entire new life.
That being said however, I didn’t enjoy this book. It didn’t do anything to me and it didn’t make me feel things. That only happened when I put the book down and started thinking further. My main issues were:
- The writing style. It is written from the perspective of Jack, a five-year old, with all the grammatical errors. I didn’t like this; it very much annoyed me. It think this is the kind of writing style you either like or you don’t and sadly I fall into the camp of people who don’t like it. I would have DNF’ed this book early on if it hadn’t been required reading.
- Because of that writing style, the characters, especially Jack actually, weren’t all that layered. It felt as if it was a robot that narrated the first half of the novel.
- I had quite a few problems with the pacing which was all off. The middle part was okay, but the first 100 and the last 150 pages where super slow. They dragged and it truly was a struggle to get through.
For those reasons I didn’t enjoy the time I spent reading this novel. Ultimately, I decided to give this book a 2 out of 5 stars.
I have also seen the movie and I wanted to say that I actually think it was better than the book. I don’t say that often! The movie kept the good parts of the book and fixed the problems I had with it. I would definitely recommend watching it!
That’s all for this review. Thanks for reading! See you next time!