Have you ever read a book that was so gripping that you couldn't put it down, even to go to sleep? That you briefly had to close it and steady your breathing because it was getting very intense and you had to calm yourself down before you plunged right back in? That you immediately felt you had to recommend to everyone you knew the minute you finished it? And that you felt kind of made you view the world in a different way once you'd put it down?
Welcome to Room.
The real problem with reviewing Room is that, to really get the full experience of the book, I can't actually tell you anything about the plot. Room is one of those books that throws you in from the first page and one of the major points of the book is to see you try and figure out what's actually going on. If you knew from the beginning, it would take away half of the books dramatic impact. So, I'm not going to tell you.
All I will say is that it's about a boy named Jack. The book begins on his fifth birthday and is told completely from his point of view. Jack lives in a room with his mother. And that's all you get to know.
One of the most impressive bits about the book is the way Donoghue creates our adorable narrator, Jack. He's five and the book sounds like it is very realistically written by a five year old. Donoghue has said that she studied the speech patterns and grammatical mistakes of her own children and created a kind of mini-dictionary of kidlish to help her get in the mindset of Jack and it really shows. There is never a time while reading that you doubt Jack's voice. It's distinct and clear, at times adorable and at times worrying.
Seeing everything through a child's eyes, as well, is a big part of the impact of the book. Because Jack is so young and so unique, it takes the reader to piece together exactly what is happening from the clues you pick up from Jack. Beyond that, however, it also helps you look at the world as a child would see it, adding a sense of wonder to things that, even to a normal five year old, would become trite and overly normal. Jack is amazed and confused by all and it is quite refreshing.
This book was shortlisted for both the Booker and the Orange prizes and you can tell when you pick it up. Although it may take a few pages to get into, the mystery of it all will grab you and pull you right in. I started reading at 8 PM on a Monday night and didn't put it down until I'd finished it at 2:30. And then immediately emailed some friends telling them to pick it up and started researching Emma Donoghue. I was enamored by the story and I want everyone else to be, as well.
So, this review is quite short because I'm trying to keep my mouth shut. Hopefully, my elusiveness has convinced you that you need to check this out. Even if it hasn't, I would hope you would, anyway. This book is for everyone. Read it. You won't be disappointed.