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112 of 118 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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8 of 8 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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8 of 8 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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112 of 118 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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269 of 286 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars REVIEW: "Room", by Emma Donoghue [moderate spoilers], 24 May 2012
This review is from: Room (Paperback)
This book is tremendous. This is one of those books that you pick up and then everything else in your world just has to take a back seat. There is no way that you're going to put it down when you begin. Donoghue's story is just so compelling.

The story is told through the voice of five year old Jack whose entire world measures 12 x 12 feet. As far as Jack believes, there is absolutely nothing beyond Room, the universe in which he lives. He has friends in room: old toys, the television (Dora is one of his favourite friends) and his "Ma". Room has its own host of landmarks which Jack thinks of in haunting, proper-noun terms: Rug, Wardrobe, Bed, Meltedy Spoon (a[...]) etc.

At first, when readers enter Room and encounter Jack and his Ma, the world is a quiet, innocent place because it is seen through Jack's quiet, innocent eyes. He is inexperienced and knows nothing of the possibilities of outside. Ma nurtures his beliefs and, at the same tame, allows herself to cling to her own desperate sanity.

However, as Jack grows and his mind becomes more curious, the reader is exposed to true horrors which Jack cannot understand. We hear (through the doors of Wardrobe) his mother being raped by the man who has kept her locked in Room for the last seven years; we squirm uncomfortably as the young mother continues to breastfeed her growing boy (he even notes in an offhand fashion which breast is creamiest...eww), but it took me a while to figure out that this was what Jack was talking about.His innocence was transferred even to me! Which made my realisation all the more disturbing.

Jack's father and captor is a Fritzl-esque character who is truly detestable. It is a shame that we can relate real-life tales to the fictional world of Room. But it is also one of the things which makes the book so horrifically gripping.

TINY SPOILER: Without giving too much away, I'll let you that Jack and his Ma do eventually taste freedom. However, to a pair who know so little of anything outside Room, freedom is a tough and overwhelming thing to face. Jack longs for his old familiars. He knew and loved his Rug, his Meltedy Spoon, and nothing in the outside world is quite so comfortable. Ma has tough things to face too. Her family has changed without her, the world has moved on, and she's used to being a mother in Room while in the real world she is still a young woman.

Ma has longed for escape for seven years. Jack's entire world has been Room for his five years, and he never had the -knowledge to want anything else. On the outside, Jack wants nothing more than to return home. In Room, Ma wants nothing more than to get out, to her idea of home.

At times this book is horrific, sometimes it will make you smile and at points you will want to cry. However, it will have you truly caring about these characters and their differing ideas of the world around them. I truly loved this and just blogging about it has made me want to go and read it again. If anyone wants to borrow this amazing read then let me know. Seriously, you'll be glad that you did.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 22 Mar. 2011
By 
This review is from: Room (Hardcover)
This isn't a book which I would noramlly read but with all the hype over it I decided to give it a go. It is about Jack, a 5yr old boy, and his mom who live in an 11ft sq room. When she was 19 "Ma" was kidnapped and has been held hostage in this room since, Jack being born about 2yrs into her captivity. Jack acts as the narrator in the book. I found the first half of the book quite tedious and I skimmed over several of the first 60 pages which seemed to waffle on in a slightly incoherent manner. I found Jack as the narrator unbelievable and the jarring language quite distracting. In one sentence his language skills seemed very backward yet a couple of sentences on he would surprise you with rather advanced vocab. You got the impression he was supposed to be quite advanced in some areas i.e language/knowledge but more socially inept than the average 5yr old, however, I felt this was contradictory. I didn't feel any emotional connection with the book and was miffed at how some of the press reviews were "amazed" at how the author came up with such a unique story. In my mind the story is far from unique and had quite a few similarities to the Jacyee Lee Dugard and Josef Fritzel stories. I will say that the second half of the book was better and I did feel the need to finish it to the end and find out what happened to Jack and Ma. I only gave it 3* because it kept me reading until the end otherwise it would have been a strong 2*. Disappointing
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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)   
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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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244 of 270 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)
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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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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written - couldn't put it down, 4 Sept. 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 Sept. 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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Room by Emma Donoghue
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