Saturday, September 18, 2010

Room by Emma Donoghue


To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It’s where he was born and where he and his Ma eat and play and learn. At night, Ma puts him safely to sleep in the wardrobe, in case Old Nick comes.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it’s the prison where Old Nick has kept her for seven years, since she was nineteen. Through ingenuity and determination, Ma has created a life for herself and her son, but she knows it’s not enough for either of them. Jack’s curiosity is building alongside Ma’s desperation -- and Room can’t contain either of them for much longer...

Told entirely in the inventive, often funny voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of the resilient bond between parent and child, and a brilliantly executed novel about a journey from one world to another.
I first discovered Emma Donoghue when I read her historical fiction novel Slammerkin a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Since then I have been collecting her books, but not actually reading them. Then, this one came out and caught my attention. It works for the R.I.P. reading challenge and book bloggers that I trust have been saying good things about it. I decided to finally read something else by Donoghue and see if Slammerkin was it, or if I was going to enjoy all her books. Both books are by Donoghue and both were really well written. Other than that, though, there is really nothing similar about the books. It amazes me when authors can write so many entirely different types of books and manage to write them all well.

Room is told from the viewpoint of 5-year-old Jack. Jack has spent his entire life in Room and to him that is the entire world. Ma, though, knows better and has spent the past 7 years as a prisoner to the man that Jack calls Old Nick. Not knowing how to handle the situation any differently, Ma tells Jack that everything that happens on television is only TV. She wants him to not know what he is missing out on, but eventually he has to get older and more curious about the world. Then, she is faced with the decision to either continue telling him the elaborate lies or to finally let him in on the fact that there is really a large world out there. When he finds out he doesn't believe her at first. This is a lot for a child to take in, but Ma is tired of her captivity and needs to find a way to finally escape. In order to do this, though, she needs Jack's help.

For those of you that read my blog, you will know that I am not always a big fan of young narrators. So, first up I am going to admit that the 5-year-old angle drove me crazy sometimes. Yes, he was cute and yes, he was funny, but he got on my nerves sometimes. This was my main problem with the book. I had to keep getting passed it in order to enjoy the book. This is me, though, and I want to say that I did like the book a lot despite the fact that I wasn't always a big fan of the narrator. This book was actually a page turner. I finished it in one sitting and for the most part, loved every minute of it. Emma Donoghue is such a great author and she knows how to use every word. Even if I wasn't a big fan of Jack at times, she did a really really good job of capturing what it would be like for a 5-year-old to grow up in isolation and then be transported to the 'real' world. I really felt like it was believable the entire time.

I think I will try and leave something to the imagination and not say anymore about the book. It isn't a page turner if you have read a review that tells you everything that happens in the book.

Thanks to Harper Collins Canada for sending me a copy of this book!

This book counts for the R.I.P. V challenge.

30 comments:

  1. Great review! I have been reading a lot of things about this book lately and I am definitely intrigued.

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  2. This is next up for me. Can't wait to read it. Child narrative's in adult books are hard to deal with and harder still for an author to succeed at. That is the one thing I've been wondering about this book; I guess I'll find out soon.

    Since then I have been collecting her books, but not actually reading them.

    I laughed when I read that because I belong to that club too! I think it is a genuine hobby, though. Kind of like the toy collectors who buy action heroes in the box and never take them out to play with (LOL)

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  3. I skimmed your review of this one because I have it on shelves and am looking forward to reading it. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it even if the narrarator annoyed you at times. It sounds like a really interesting read!

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  4. I've seen this book everywhere and it looks SO good (and a bit unnerving!)

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  5. I've heard so much about this and I hope it ends up being as good as people say.

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  6. Book Worm: It does seem to be making the blogging rounds. I am glad I read it, though!

    Nioola: She did pull it off really well. I am just not a huge fan of child narrators.

    And, that is too true on book collecting. She is not the only author I have done that with! lol

    Samantha: I have been skimming reviews of this for a while now, so I am glad I can finally read them to see what everyone else really thought.

    Christina: I am hoping that it continues to garner all this attention. :)

    Amanda: I hope you like it, too. I am never entirely sure if you will like something or not... :)

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  7. I skimmed your review because I'm looking forward to reading this myself soon. Just wanted to say - I can't wait!

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  8. Amy: I hope you enjoy it!

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  9. I've heard so many good things about this one, I'm looking forward to reading it fairly soon!

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  10. I really need to read something by Emma Donoghue soon. Her books all sound so interesting! I've been hearing a lot of good things about this one - I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  11. I also became interested in Emma Donaghue after I read SLAMMERKIN, but I've yet to try any of her other books. I've heard so many good things about this one that I plan to keep an eye out for it at the library.

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  12. This one has been everywhere! I really need to read it, but I'm glad to have seen your review first.

    Have you ever read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer? The narrator of that book is young and I thought it was done pretty well.

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  13. Darren: I wanted to read it before I heard too much about it. It sort of ruins it for you otherwise.

    Helen: She writes really well. I think my next book will be Life Mask, but I also own, well, all of her other books. lol

    Memory: SLAMMERKIN was really good, but this book is completely different...

    She: No, I haven't read Foer's book, but I have heard about it. Normally I try to avoid child narrators because I tend to hate them, but obviously I do read a few here and there. I will have to give that one a try at some point, though.

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  14. I've heard so many good things about this book so I want to give it a try but I'm afraid the young narrator won't work for me.

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  15. Unless I'm reading YA (and sometimes not even then), I'm not too fond of younger narrators either. Glad that didn't make much of a difference in your enjoyment of the book!

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  16. Anna: I was worried about the narrator, too, but it worked out for me.

    Tink: Yeah, a 5-year-old is a bit young for me, but I think she pulled it off. He bothered me sometimes, but not enough to destroy the book for me.

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  17. I first read Emma Donoghue's book Kissing the Witch, which is only similar to this one in that it has a unique narrative structure. I've read lots of good and not-so-good reviews of Room, but I think it's intriguing enough that I'll give it a try sometime.

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  18. Kim: I want to read Kissing the Witch at some point. It sounds rather interesting!

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  19. It did take a little while to get used to Jack's voice, but once I did, I liked the book a lot. Sorry Jack bugged you so much.

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  20. Good review - I've been hearing and reading good things about this book but I have to admit that the thought of a young child narrator is what put me off. I may give it a try after reading your thoughts on that.

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  21. I read Slammerkin also and really liked it. When I first heard about her newest it didn't really appeal to me and figured I wouldn't bother reading it--at least not anytime soon, but after hearing so much about it, I finally got in line for it at the library. I don't mind young narrators, but five is pretty young--especially one who has such a limited world--it should be an interesting read!

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  22. Great review!
    I've heard a lot of good things about this one and really want to read it, but like you I'm not a fan of young narrators. I'm hoping I won't get too annoyed with Jack's voice!

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  23. No no no Kelly, You're supposed to say you loved EVERYTHING about it and it's the best book that youve ever read :p I'm glad you did enjoy it though!! I just loved it!!

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  24. I only read the beginning of your review because I just started this book. But I'll be back (hopefully in a few days, if I can ever make some time for reading!) to see what you thought. So far, but I'm only 20 or so pages in, I'm really loving it.

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  25. Bermudaonion: It wasn't THAT bad, but it did bother be at times...

    Heather: I hope you can get around the young narrator and enjoy the book!

    Danielle: I wasn't sure about the book either, but after reading some reviews of it, I decided to give it a try and it worked out. :)

    Kay: I hope Jack doesn't bother you!

    Chris: I know, I know. I saw how much you liked this book. lol

    Debi: I hope you find time to read it!

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  26. I have seen this book floating around but was not real sure what is about. Now I know, and wondering how I would do with a young narrator. Like you, I tend to have troubles with a young narrator and 5 is young. I don't have much patience if they are whiny at all. :shrug:
    I think,however, that I will pick this one up and try it.

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  27. It does sound interesting but I am not into very young narrators either. Maybe I should start with another one of her books if they are that good.

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  28. See, I think that the fact that Jack annoyed you sometimes is a compliment for the author's writing - I thought Jack was really believable and he annoyed me at times too, just like any 5-year-old would. I'm glad you enjoyed the book anyway - it's one of my favorites of the year!

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  29. Wasn’t sure where to post this. Just popping by to let you know how much I’ve been enjoying your blog, and to tell you I’ve nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award

    For more information go to:
    http://thebookwormchronicles.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/one-lovely-blog-award/

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  30. ibeeeg: When I first heard about the book I didn't think I would want to read it at all because of the narrator. Then, I started seeing some very enthusiastic reviews from other bloggers and I decided I had to give it a try. While not a fan of child narrators, I still ended up enjoying the book.

    Caroline: If you like historical fiction SLAMMERKIN is really good!

    joanna: I can see your point on that, actually.

    thebookwormchronicles: Thanks!

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