Room…a unique, suspenseful and endearing thriller

Author: Emma Donoghue
Published: Little Brown & Company/2010
Genre: Thriller
Length: 352 pages
Rating: 5.5/10

I think I’m the last person to finally read Room and it was on my Wish List well before my friend/guest blogger Allison W. blogged about it. When I was in Ireland this past week, I visited some local bookstores and realized that author Emma Donoghue was from Dublin. So what better place to buy Room than in Ireland? I bought it in Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop in Galway and read it on the plane ride home.

Room was certainly different than any book I’ve read before. As Allison W. said, it’s written from Jack’s perspective and he’s a 5-year-old.  So every thought and sentence is kid talk and you see the world through his eyes. It makes for slow reading at first but you get used to it. And because Jack’s world is limited to one room, every object in the room, every daily routine, has more significance to Jack than it would to another child.

With the book being narrated by Jack, the utter creepiness of what’s happening to him and his “Ma” comes across as being more innocent than it is. But you realize that Ma was kidnapped as a 19-year-old and is now in her late 20’s, and they live in a room with a Skylight, sink, oven, TV, heat and AC and some furniture and toys. Jack was born in the room and doesn’t know the outside world exists until he turns five and his mom tries to explain that what he sees outside the Skylight and on TV is real. Their captor, Old Nick, visits Ma most nights after 9:00, entering through a door that opens only with a key pad code. Some of Jack and Ma’s daily activities, which all seem like fun and games to Jack, include Screaming (only on week days), Laundry, Track and typing four-digit codes into the keypad.

It just takes a few pages to become absorbed in Room. Donoghue’s writing is brilliant and unique. Jack is endearing, smart and innocent, and it’s his narration that makes this thriller a success. Ma has clearly done her best to survive, raise a child in captivity and maintain normalcy, while being abused by Old Nick. Even though this is fiction, you can’t help but feel inspired by Ma. And you realize that Ma hadn’t told Jack about the real world outside Room, not just because he was too young to understand why they were in captivity, but because it makes their circumstance all the more sad and scary. Room isn’t your typical thriller–but it’s unique, suspenseful and endearing.


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