Nov 26, 2011

Review: Emma Donoghue - Room

Emma Donoghue - Room

• Pub. Date: September 2010
• Publisher: Hachette Audio
• Format: Compact Disc
• Age Range: Adult

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.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

I borrowed the audio book from a coworker. Here is my honest review:

Um, wow. This book is horrifying, eye-opening, and strangely addicting. It's like that train wreck from which you can't peel your eyes away. You want to stop looking, but it's entirely impossible. This terrifying idea really sucks you in (and grosses you out quite a bit).

This novel is told from five-year-old Jack's POV. He lives in 11'x11' "Room" with "Ma" and all the objects of his world. He thinks everything on TV is fantasy and nothing exists beyond his room. He has no reason to think otherwise since his mom has taught him this. She has no reason, either, to teach him about the world because they're prisoners of "Old Nick," a man who comes in the middle of the night to bring them survival needs and Sunday Treat. He stole Ma seven years ago and locked them in a soundproof, exit-less shed in his backyard. Ma and Jack hatch a plan to leave Room, and that's where this story really picks up. Horrified yet? Goodness.

There were a few times where Jack's ideas of what was okay made me want to vomit. I understand that he didn't know better, but it's still weird to people who do. But it really was interesting to see how being cooped up in that room affected him. The whole thing was amazingly shocking. I almost don't even want to recommend it because it's so out there! It's not an enjoyable novel, but it's very intriguing and moving.

While I understand the narrating, I got really sick of five-year-old baby talk. I did enjoy the cast of narrators to make it all different. It eased the whole child narrator thing. Read and/or listen at your own risk.

What I liked:
  • Jack's POV. It was very enlightening to get this story solely from the child's eyes. It made you think and put things together as an adult does when children tell stories. He's a pretty honest and reliable narrator though. But I don't like baby talk, and he was frustrating at times.
  • Original idea. I've never read anything like this before, so it was fresh and different. But it's still horrifying to think about.

What I didn't like:

  • The idea. Yes I said I liked it, but that's as an original idea. This novel is a real-life thing. People do crazy things, and we hear about stuff like this every now and then. Sad stuff.
  • The sick factor. I won't say much, but there's something about a tooth that really makes me gag. And the whole breastfeeding at 5 thing. Yuck. Again, I get it, but it's still gross.

Bottom Line: This is a very engrossing and moving read, but enter at your own risk.


4 / 5 book sharks


  1. omg thank you! I did a review of this book too and i pretty much agreed with you about everything. The whole tooth thing really.. REALLY made my skin crawl.

  2. I really enjoyed your review! :) Great post! I liked it too, it was kind of wild wasn't it? We read it for book club and we all felt differently about it. I hated the breast feeding thing though, oye!

    Here's my post:

  3. i had a million thoughts about this book. it was really a roller coaster of emotions (i know that sounds cliche) for me, but i couldn't help it. there were extreme highs and lows. but for me, the toughest part was that my boy, Jack, was five years old at the time i was reading it, and i had the hardest time separating the story-Jack from my boy. i think it totally stressed me out that i put the face of my kid on the kid in the book. so if i read this book at any other time, i think it would have been different for me.

    don't get me wrong...i'm totally glad i read it. i thought it was a great book-well written and an interesting story-it was just odd that i kept inadvertantly assigning that character the face of my child. it kept making me shudder, ya know?

  4. Alana - That was the most disgusting thing in this book. YUCK.

    Brunette - We almost read this in our book club too. I'm kind of glad we didn't, although most of our book club people have read it independently since we started book club.

    Asheley - Oh boy, that would be VERY tough!! That would put a whole new spin on it for me, too. The whole thing is just absolutely horrifying, and that would make it 100x worse.

    Thanks for all the comments ;o)


Thanks so much for leaving a comment! It means a lot!! Happy Reading!!