Emma Donoghue’s ‘Room’

Review – Room by Emma Donoghue

Jack is five. He lives in a single, locked room with his Ma. room

I’d heard lots of good things about Room, but was never really that bothered about reading it until someday, I decided I just had to. Still don’t know whether that was a good choice or not.

The story is narrated by Jack, a five year old boy who is trapped inside an eleven square foot shed with his Ma. In terms of storytelling, I haven’t read a book like this before. It is written from the voice of a five year old, and as a result of that, it’s quite clunky and almost annoying to read. The capitalized object names and the language used is executed well throughout the novel, and Donoghue must be given for credit for the believability of Jack’s voice, but to the reader, it gets repetitive and somewhat irritating quite early on.

Room is told in three parts – before, during and after. The escape was really quite implausible to me, but maybe I’m just being a little too cynical. However, it must be said that the relief I felt when they were out of Room was immeasurable. This book has a fantastic way of drawing you in, even though at times, I really didn’t want to read any more – purely because I was quite disturbed by the whole ordeal. As I study Psychology at school, I’ve had to watch lots of documentaries involving gruesome murders, but none of them turned my stomach like Room. Whether it’s the fact that it comes from the head of a small child, I don’t know, but Emma Donoghue freaked me out so much that I dreamt about this book after I read it, and it was not a happy dream. Eugh.

I found the time that Jack and Ma spent in the mental hospital quite interesting to read, as well as their interactions with the doctors and police offers. There are lots of things that Jack is incapable of doing that would never have crossed my mind – using stairs, for example. There must have been a lot of research for this book to happen, and I’m quite certain that it paid off.

Overall, I think Room is one of the most emotionally affecting books that I’ve read in a while. It doesn’t shy away from the nasty parts in any sense; this is certainly not for those of a faint heart. I don’t know whether I recommend it or not, simply because I’m not sure I’d like to be responsible for someone having to feel as uncomfortable as I did whilst reading it. Donoghue has a knack for making the reader squirm, but maybe it goes a little too far.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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