Obviously I’m a little late in reviewing this, seeing as most of the hype occurred over a year ago with the Booker Prize 2010. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what I was expecting of Room, and now that I’ve finished it I’m still not quite sure what to think.
The story concerns a young boy called Jack who lives with his Ma in an 11×11′ room. We as the audience know that there’s something very wrong about the situation, but to Jack it’s his entire world. For me, this set-up poses certain issues that don’t particularly work for me. First is the whole confinement thing: considering the similarities between this and the case of Josef Fritzl, I found this a tad uncomfortable, like the author was trying to profit from the situation; that probably wasn’t the intention, but it certainly feels that way at times. Second is the use of Jack as the narrator. Don’t get me wrong, I think Donoghue nails the voice of a 5-year-old; I just don’t think that the mind-set of children are particularly interesting to see events from. Personally, I was more interested in Ma’s perspective on the situation, with a focus on how she’s adapted to being confined, especially as it’s compounded by the pressures of motherhood.
On the other hand, while I wasn’t fond of the similarities that the book bore to the Fritzl case, it did make for engaging reading. From the second part onwards I was gripped, desperate to know how it would end. Now that it’s ended though? It feels like watching programmes about true crime: you’re gripped while you watch it, then pretty much forget it when it’s all over.
This is a bit of an odd one to summarise, but I’ll give it my best shot. Overall, I think that this is a good book. I think that it’s a book that I would recommend reading, but only once; if you’re looking for a read with more staying power, I’d look elsewhere. 3.5/5
Next review: The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.