Thursday 16 January 2014

Book 2 Review: Room- Emma Donoghue

"It has layers, like an onion"

Room, by Emma Donoghue, is a novel that will grab you by the feels and not let go until about 3 days after you have finished it. It is an emotionally challenging novel, but extremely rewarding. Although some might find it contains some difficult themes, it is not hard to read and you are easily drawn in by Donoghue’s incredible writing. This novel will be very tough for the rest of the 50 books out of my 52 books in 52 weeks challenge to follow.
Room is written from the perspective of a five year old boy, Jack, who lives in ‘Room’ with his Ma. Room is Jack’s world and only other person except his ma who is a part of his world is Old Nick. As a reader you realise that Jack and his mother are confined to Room, kept hostage by Old Nick. On Jack's birthday his world starts to rapidly expand when his mother explains that there is a whole world outside of Room and they start plotting an escape attempt.
Room by Emma Donoghue Book Cover
Room is a hard book to review, not simply because early on there is a big plot development that I don't want to spoil, but also because it is the type of book that people tell you "It's awesome, it's about stuff, just read it okay, read it." I now understand why. 
It is a cliché to talk about how great things are 'through a child's eyes'. Many books attempt to portray situations through the perspective of a child and ultimately end up sounding contrived or overly simplistic. Jack's image of the world is so unique and so beautiful that each line in 'Room' is interesting, especially when he describes everyday situations in a creative way.
Some of my favourite quotes from Jack :
“I remember manners, that's when people are scared to make other persons mad.”  
“Vitamins are medicine for not getting sick and going back to Heaven yet.”
"Is there a word for adults when they aren't parents?" Steppa laughs. "Folks with other things to do?”  

Seeing the world through the eyes of Jack made me consider when the last time was that I saw something that I had never even conceived of before. That doesn't mean seeing a new TV show that I hadn't heard of before or trying a new sport or having a turkey burger for the first time. When is the last time I saw something I never even imagined existed previously? I certainly can't think of anything, and I doubt many people with access to all the glories of the interwebs have either. Jack experiences so many ordinary things and situations that are so mundane they are almost invisible to us and his reactions on seeing them for the first time (like stairs for example) are fantastic.


'Room' also makes us consider how the way we perceive the world is a result of our surroundings, and our upbringing. It is incredible how different someone's understanding of the same 'reality' can vary so much from another. Although someone's understanding of 'reality' is so different it is not any less true, and is in fact, even more valuable. The novel can also be seen as a modern interpretation of Plato's Cave , and how we perceive reality. I could say a lot more on that but you didn't sign up for a philosophy degree, just a book review. Safe to say, the book has lots of layers, like an onion.

The Good Bits:
Can I just say- all of it?
Although the book contains implications of kidnapping and sexual assault, the book is overwhelmingly positive. The way Jack views the world, and describes his world to the reader, is  positive and optimistic.

I really enjoyed how as a reader you gradually realise other plot points as Donoghue cleverly lets out little hints, or signs that Jack misses but as a reader you pick up on.

The ending was fantastic. Leaves you with a cathartic sense of conclusion and brings the novel full circle. No need for a wishy-washy epilogue here.

The Not So Good Bits:
The Novel has implications of kidnapping and sexual assault (only implied). If this is a trigger, probably best to give this book a miss.

Five out of Five scaredybrave boys

The Next book:
"A Season in Hell" by Robert R Fowler, a true story of the author's capture in West Africa by Al Qaeda. Am half way through at the moment.


Also, Emma Donoghue did a Q and A session on 'Room' for Goodreads. Once you have read the novel head over there and see how she describes some of her decisions as a writer- its really interesting



  1. Thanks for your tweet! I'm very excited to see your blog! I want to read 85 books in 2014 but I'm not computer-savvy enough to have a blog. I consider it a huge accomplishment to remember to review them on Goodreads. I'm looking forward to checking in with you weekly to see what you've been up to!

  2. Thanks for your comment Jennifer! 85 is huge!! I am struggling enough as it is with a book a week. Good luck :)