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Friday, 23 September 2011

Room by Emma Donoghue

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 11x11' 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.

Signing off,

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