Reader reviews and comments on Room, plus links to write your own review.

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A Novel

by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma Donoghue X
Room by Emma Donoghue
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    Sep 2010, 336 pages
    May 2011, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

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There are currently 12 reader reviews for Room
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I don't see how people think this book was boring or a waste of time. I think it was an amazing lesson to what life could of been like if you were like that....truly amazing!
Lizz D

From 9:00 pm-2:00 am, 5 hours, Room held me tightly in it's little 5 year old grasp and refused to let go.

Jack is turning 5. He's like most other 5 year old boys; he likes to play games and he loves Dora the Explorer. But Jack has grown up in the same room his whole life. All he knows is Room, his Ma and Old Nick who once a week brings food and occasionally treats.

The book is told from Jack's perspective and was so accurately child-like. He takes turn of phrase literally, and is overly inquisitive.

I quite literally couldn't put this book down. I crawled onto the couch and didn't leave till I read the last page. I highly recommend this book.

There was some swearing, but mostly just adult themes.

Listen and savor a fictional story that is as real as the sun.

Jack and Ma, the main characters of “Room”, are wonderfully created by Emma Donogheu. Her skillful direction of the narrators and their audio presentation enrich the power of Donogheu’s writing.

The beginning of the book is a puzzle because the listener sees the world through the eyes of a five year old and his mother. Part of the story’s appeal is seeing life through these eyes but also wanting to know why the world seems off center, almost surreal.

As early chapters unfold, the listener is drawn into a dark labyrinth of a mother’s fear and loathing. The mother’s fear and loathing is contrasted with the joy and wonder of her young son. The listener is puzzled by how and why that contrast exists. As the cause of the difference in perception becomes clear, the listener begins to admire the strength and wisdom of Ma and the precociousness of Jack.
Power Reviewer
Cloggie Downunder

Hard to put down
Emma Donoghue’s latest novel, Room, is told from the perspective of Jack, a five-year-old boy who has lived his whole life inside “Room” with his mother, Ma. Having Jack narrate is a clever device: through his innocent eyes and ears, we gradually learn how he and Ma come to be in this situation and what fills their days. We share Jack’s thoughts about daily life and his fear at the thought of escape and the attempt to carry it out. Altogether, it makes for horror, humour, hope, suspense and sadness. I really enjoyed this book. I laughed, I cried, and at one stage, the tension was so high, I did the reading equivalent of putting your hands in front of your eyes in a scary movie: I had to walk away for a break. Apart from that, I found it hard to put down and I am sure many will read it in one sitting. Heartbreaking in parts, it was ultimately a truly uplifting novel.

A mother's nightmare
This book will strike at every mother's heart as she imagines what she would do in the same circumstances. Ma was extremely creative in bringing up Jack in "the room" at her young age and there's no way that I could have done what she did and still stay sane and hopeful about life. This book made me cry, laugh and marvel at the human spirit. I had to put the book down for a day as I didn't want it to end. I was educated through this book and am using the creativity shown in the book to now play with my grandchildren. This book is so good on many levels, but I hope people don't not read it because of the subject matter. Everyone can benefit from reading this wonderful novel.

bonus reading
This book is difficult to categorize, but it would be fair to call it a thriller. However, while most thrillers end with the resolution of a situation, in Room, the situation is resolved about midway through the book. In the "bonus reading" (my own term for the second half of this book) the author is able to explore the concepts that readers often wonder about at the end of a thriller - most significantly, what was the psychological effect on the participants? She manages to present a consistent, intelligent, and plausible analysis for many of the characters, and the result is a very satisfying and compelling read.
Power Reviewer

Intense, heartbreaking, Frightening
What hold could Old Nick have over Ma that would make that room her world? Why didn't she just leave? Or maybe she wasn't able to leave?

Jack's fifth birthday definitely wouldn't be what a normal five-year-old would be delighted with, but Jack was happy to spend the day with his Ma in their ordinary, same-as-always routine. They spent every day in the "room" with the food and clothing that Old Nick provided for them.

Ma doesn't allow Old Nick to see Jack but she never tells Jack why. Ma and Jack's days are creatively spent inventing things, measuring everything in the room that has been Ma's space for the past seven years, reading books and changing the characters to suit them, and watching the clock so they know when it is time to eat or sleep. They never leave their "room," and Jack really doesn't know any better or know anything about the outside world except what his Ma tells him when they read books.

As much as Ma tries to protect and shelter Jack, he begins to question what is beyond the walls they live in. Ma tries to divert Jack's attention to other things, but sometimes it is unavoidable......especially the night when Jack overheard a conversation between Ma and Old Nick about him and the life Old Nick provides for her.

One comment made by Old Nick that stuck in my mind was: "I don't think you appreciate how good you've got it here," "Do you?" Page 69 To me that would be highly good could life be simply living in a room and never going outside?

I grew to hate Old Nick and how he treated both of them. When you find out the "whole" story, you won't want to stop reading.

This book is about fear, abuse, control, a mother's love, and wanting the best for your child. At first you may want to put the book down, but don't do will share Ma's feelings of fear for Old Nick and her dependence on him and also the heartbreak of Jack's acceptance of the only life he has known. You will fall in love with sweet, innocent, literal Jack, and you will think about both characters and their experience long after you turn the last page.

To me this was actually a "creative" thriller...excellent storyline. I really liked the book. 5/5

Language of child just not right
I can't stop thinking about this story - and that is a compliment. Although I couldn't put it down, I cringed my way through the child language that just is not realistic for a 5 year old child in that situation. The author herself, in the author notes, says that Ma could give him one thing and that was "language." Then why is the child portrayed with staccato sentences and verb tense errors throughout? That is simply not realistic for a child who is engaging in language throughout the day - more than anything else he does - he simply would not be making those errors at five years old with his mother right there as a model. "Rided?" it could happen once, but mother would gently and earnestly correct it - especially when "language" is all they had to do all day. The argument that he was developmentally delayed doesn't work because of the higher level thoughts the author attributes to the child. With "insights" like he had, his language wouldn't have lagged that far behind. It just doesn't happen that way, because thoughts are language. (I am a Speech/Language Pathologist.)
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Beyond the Book:
  Emma Donoghue

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