Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

January 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

As a general rule, I don’t read a lot of best-sellers. It’s not because there’s anything wrong with them, it’s just that the titles usually aren’t congruent with my tastes, and also because I like the adventure of digging up forgotten gems better than reaching for an easy-to-find pick.

But every once and awhile, when I’m browsing the current best-sellers lists, something will catch my eye in a big way. My latest best-seller discovery? Room.

Some thoughts:

I’m a sucker for books with an atypical perspective, and boy, does this book qualify. Our narrator is five-year-old Jack, and through his voice we learn about his increasingly dangerous existence as the son of a 27-year-old kidnap victim (similar to the Jaycee Duggard <,hyperlink>story that dominated the news a few years back). Even though the book deals with a potentially exploitative topic, the story never feels like a tabloid piece.

A rule of good writing is that the audience must first be able to connect with the characters in the story, or they won’t care at all about the plot. I think that’s what gives this book its substance: for all the terrible things that Jack goes through in this book, his voice stays believable and engaging until the end.

Read it if:

  • you want a nice balance of fast-paced action with 3-D characters
  • you’d like a lesson about how voice can be used effectively

Shelve it if:

  • kidnapping stories give you the creeps
  • you’re craving something with a tidy ending

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