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107 of 113 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Room Conversion
Being aware of the rather unappealing premise of 'Room', it wasn't a book I wanted to read. Despite the praise heaped upon it, I had expected it to be the sort of voyeuristic account of great suffering that passes as entertainment these days. My book group however, were keen to read it, and so I acquiesced agreeing to give it a try. I have to say my original assumption...
Published on 4 April 2011 by Quicksilver

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Compelling but not without fault
I had heard all the hype about this book and so was expecting an enthralling if traumatic read. Sadly it failed to live up to expectations. I didn't find Jack a convincing narrator - as a five year old some of his vocabulary was very advanced but at the same time he seemed to struggle with the most basic words. It seemed all too convienent to be able to blame this on the...
Published on 2 Feb 2011 by Hayles


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107 of 113 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Room Conversion, 4 April 2011
By 
Quicksilver (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Room (Paperback)
Being aware of the rather unappealing premise of 'Room', it wasn't a book I wanted to read. Despite the praise heaped upon it, I had expected it to be the sort of voyeuristic account of great suffering that passes as entertainment these days. My book group however, were keen to read it, and so I acquiesced agreeing to give it a try. I have to say my original assumption was well wide of the mark. Right from the beginning it is obvious that this novel is something special.

The story (as you probably already know) is narrated by 'Jack', a five year old, who has only ever lived in 'Room'. Jack's mother has been kidnapped and held for seven years. Jack is the product of her kidnapper's unwanted attentions. Knowing the book had a child narrator had also put me off reading it. I tend to find that books written with a child's voice are normally pretentious and hard to read. Room's Booker prize nomination had done nothing to allay these fears.

Although Jack's voice is not entirely consistent with how I imagine a five-year-olds might be, it is the making of the novel. For a start, that something so pure and innocent can come from such bleak circumstances, makes the novel bearable. Secondly, Emma Donaghue uses Jack's over-simplified understanding of the world almost without fault. She uses the space between reality and Jack's view of reality to convey events in a much more powerful way than writing about them directly. The whole novel is the ultimate example of 'showing' rather than 'telling'.

It is curious that the most exciting point of the novel is about halfway through. Though I feel novel's the gradual relaxation of tension is entirely justified (mirroring, Jack's return to something like a normal life), it does make the last half of the novel feel over long. That said, following Jack coming to terms with 'Outside' is well-handled and almost as heart-breaking as his incarceration. For a book about such a dispiriting subject, `Room' contains a surprising amount of humour; Jack's unique view of the world, does show us all up to be rather foolish.

'Room' is a highly readable novel. Although not always pleasant, it is never depressing. If, like me, you are wavering about reading it, then I would say `Room' is well worth a view.
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266 of 283 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unforgettable narrator, an unforgettable novel..., 31 Jan 2011
By 
Nicola F (Nic) (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Room (Paperback)
This is a book I hadn't heard much about prior to picking it up (I try to avoid too overly-hyped novels), but I'm so glad that I gave this a chance. There's not a lot I can add to all the previous reviews and comments that hasn't already been said, other than to afirm that this is a bloody good read.

Told from the point of view of five year old Jack, the novel sees him and his mother living in `Room,' a place the child has never left in his whole life. Unbeknownst to him however, that is because he and his mother are both prisoners and this little boy's world is about to be turned entirely upside down...

I am in awe at the authors ability to consistently maintain the voice of a child in telling this story; granted an incredibly *smart* child, but a child nonetheless. This is what for me made this book so fascinating, because Jack is such a memorable narrator. Also, the relationship between a mother and child who ultimately only have each other was told such in a moving way that for me that was the essence of the novel, despite the sinister plot twists, which were granted, a bit predictable but still very well portrayed.

I adored this book and couldn't put it down. The storyline is compelling, despite the sad turns of events, and characters are incredibly skilfully developed and believable. I would urge everyone to read this book- you won't be sorry you did.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Compelling but not without fault, 2 Feb 2011
This review is from: Room (Paperback)
I had heard all the hype about this book and so was expecting an enthralling if traumatic read. Sadly it failed to live up to expectations. I didn't find Jack a convincing narrator - as a five year old some of his vocabulary was very advanced but at the same time he seemed to struggle with the most basic words. It seemed all too convienent to be able to blame this on the fact he was locked in Room - a few mentions of his 'exceptional' vocabularly later in the book were not enough to convince me and didn't explain why he knew his left from his right and the word 'vagina' but not that he was breastfeeding rather than 'having some.' I can understand why some people couldn't get past his voice but it is worth keeping with the book. Once I had accepted that some parts of Jack's voice were unbelievable it was easy to get caught up in the story which was at times like a great thriller and at others very poignant. A good book but I don't think the author quite captured the narrator's voice she was after - it's a tall order to write a whole novel from the point of a view of a young child - few manage it convincingly and I'm afraid, for me, this fell short.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's Okay, 5 Jan 2012
By 
K. Storey - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Room (Kindle Edition)
I did Like this book, I must have done as I finished it quite quickly but the style of writing begins to grate on you. Sometimes I just wished to hear a bit of the book from an adult perspective. Most of the book is about the rehabilitation after the mother and son leave 'room', which I didn't expect.
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243 of 269 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious, intelligent and utterly gripping, 18 July 2010
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Room (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a genuinely original, imaginative and ambitious novel which Donoghue pulls off brilliantly. Written through the voice and perspective of 5 year old Jack, we witness his happy and secure solitary life with his mother in Room. Playing on the tradition of other naive child-narrators (e.g. Pip in Great Expectations, Maisie in What Maisie Knew) we experience his exuberant take on what he naturally assumes is normal, only the sinister implications of their life seep through the edges to unsettle us as readers, revealing a far more menacing reality that he doesn't see.

This isn't a plot driven novel full of twists and turns, instead it is an intelligent and detailed exploration of the way the human mind constructs its own reality. Full of tenderness as well as pain, this celebrates the relationship created by this young mother with her son, and reveals the enormous potential for resilience in the human spirit.

The second half of the book where Jack experiences Outside for the first time is fresh and imaginative, sometimes funny but also agonising as this solemn 5 year old understands for the first time that the world doesn't consist of just him and his mother, and that the rules which they lived by can, and should, be broken.

There are a few small points where Donoghue stumbles (the first TV interview felt very false and forced; some of Jack's naivety towards the end takes on the tinge of adult satire and I felt like it was the author, not the character, talking about how people have too little time to enjoy their lives).

But these are small niggles in a powerful and overwhelmingly confident narrative. I started this in the afternoon and was literally unable to put the book down till I finished it that night and even after that Jack's voice still haunted me. It's quite rare for me to be really gripped by a contemporary literary novel but this one managed it effortlessly: highly recommended.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written - couldn't put it down, 4 Sep 2011
This review is from: Room (Kindle Edition)
I loved this book. Even a month after finishing it I am thinking about the characters and thinking about how good it was and how beautifully written. Seeing things from the child's point of view and hearing his thoughts reminded me a little of The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night Time, although this book felt emotionally deeper that the Dog in the Night, probably because of the theme of captivity.
Despite that being the theme, it's not gruelling to read at all. At no point did I feel disgusted or disturbed, which I was worried about before I started it and was told it was inspired by the Josef Fritzel case. It IS about a mother and son being held captive, but the captor is given very little description and limited attention is given to him. Apparently Donaghue did that on purpose as she didn't want the book to be about him. She has said the main thing that gave her inspiration from the Fritzel case wasn't the torture or the assault or Fritzel himself; the thing she found fascinating was the idea of a child being born in that room and only knowing that for their whole life, then emerging into a world they've never seen before like an alien landing on earth. That's what comes through in the book and it's really eye-opening. The other overwhelming theme is the bond between a mother and child. That's what I found anyway. It's great - read it.
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222 of 247 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, with reservations, 27 Sep 2010
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Room (Hardcover)
Room is based on an original, arresting, thought-provoking premise. It's narrated by a five year old boy (Jack), who has spent his entire life living inside a small room where he and his mother are held prisoner. His mother was abducted at the age of 19 and has been repeatedly raped: Jack being born some 2 years later. Jack's mother is frequently depressed and desperate to escape. However she has protected Jack from the realities of their situation and one of the book's central ideas is that when you know no better, you always think the world that you live in is normal and it will still represent home to you.

Having a child narrate the book is very clever in many ways. Jack is oblivious to the heroic efforts that his mother makes to protect and entertain him, but these are obvious to the reader. However he never really worked as a narrator for me. He starts the book speaking in quite broken english but quickly leaves that affectation behind. I realise that he was meant to be a highly developed child in some areas while very behind in others. But I couldn't reconcile a child who knew words like omnivore, nutritional and antenna and then at other times would describe something as "the hurtest". The first time he sees his mother vomiting he describes it as "stuff falling out of her mouth like spit but much thicker", but next moment he's calling it vomit and using the word freely from then on. All these inconsistencies kept interrupting the flow of the book for me. There were also times when I would like to have been given a better insight into the reasons for his mother's actions, which the choice of narrator made impossible.

It's a story with two distinct acts, punctuated by a nerve-wracking section in the middle. I felt that the story loses momentum in the second half of the book, petering out towards the end.

This is one of those books that sucks you into its world and makes you reconsider your own. It's a quick read that's highly absorbing. I can understand why so many people think that it's brilliant, but I only found it good, not great.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good and bad - simultaneously, 20 Nov 2011
This review is from: Room (Hardcover)
Never has a book caused me such pleasure and pain to read.

The story is narrated by five-year-old Jack, who has lived his whole life in the confines of Room. We soon learn that Jack and his mother are captives of 'Old Nick', a kidnapper and rapist. The style of Jack's discourse quickly demonstrates the type of environment in which he is forced to live, with only his mother for company, and an outlook on the world no further than the walls that surround him. His speech patterns are unusually advanced, but he converses with an adult only, and he views the TV programmes as distinct from rather than reflective of Outside. His possessions and various items in Room become characters to him, and are given proper nouns: Wardrobe, Skylight, Thermostat, etc. All this makes you wonder just how two such people would cope in this type of situation.

The novel cleverly develops the situation, while simultaneously annoys with inconsistencies in Jack's logic, such as 'if I ran away' (Jack could have no concept of this - run away to where? There is only Room), and his ability to handle advanced psychological subjects (like sarcasm), but not that you can't put back a fallen out tooth. There are other technical errors such as when Jack looks in the mirror he sees his mother's face superimposed over his own (physics doesn't allow this), as well some 'idiot plot' points later in the novel, which I won't mention because of spoilers. The narrative gets a little soggy two-thirds of the way through, but not so bad that you can't read on. A decent editor could have ironed-out the inconsistencies and pacing.

So, while the novel gets you thinking deeply about the awful situation in which the pair find themselves, and despite enjoying Jack's eccentricities, you find yourself saying 'that just wouldn't happen' too many times to let it slide. I would still recommend 'Room' to read, however, for the two former points, but I'm baffled, from a technical aspect, as to how 'Room' made it to the Man-Booker shortlist.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, 21 April 2011
By 
Mr. Steven Empson "Voyage34" (Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Room (Paperback)
I bought this because of the reviews and the blurb - I have to say that I was left underwhelmed by it. Initially I enjoyed it but then I found that it didn't grip me as I had expected and it felt rushed at the end. I skim read most of it just to get it finished, I hate not finishing a book once I've started. I would agree with another reviewer - borrow it from a friend or a library. Overall I was left thinking - what have I missed?
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great page turner and very thought provoking, 14 Mar 2011
This review is from: Room (Kindle Edition)
Found this book a little strange for first few pages but soon got into it and couldn't put it down, I think anyone with a small child will love this as it raises so many questions. If you have the time a great book to read in one sitting and the characters will stay with you for a long time.
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Room by Emma Donoghue (Hardcover - 6 Aug 2010)
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