Audiobooks RoomAuthor Emma Donoghue – Blockdiagramwiring.co
Based on, or inspired by shocking cases like that of Josef Fritzl, Room is the story of a boy, Jack, born and raised with his captive mother in a 12 foot square room Narrated by the boy himself, it s a child s eye view of a small world housing a great deal of imagination, pain and love Packed with the emotional punch and occasional humour that comes with having a child narrator, comparisons will inevitably be drawn to John Boyne s The Boy with the Striped Pyjamas In my opinion, Room surpasses that book because the protagonist feels real Donoghue accomplishes the job of not only getting inside the head of a child, as Boyne very cleverly, but cloyingly did, but she also has a protagonist who s only experience of the world is a television with four fuzzy channels and his mother s stories, which adds a whole new, tougher and horrific, dimension.In describing the lives of these two captives in this tiny room, Donoghue exercise as much, if not , imagination than creators of entire universes, like Tolkien The tiny attention to detail paid to their room and Jack s description of it, makes it an all too real and terrible place It s not really a plot driven book, although I found my heart racing on several occasions, desperate to find out what happens to this dear, naive little boy It is definitely a book that is difficult to write about with revealing spoiling for those who are yet to enjoy it At its core I guess it s about the indomitable human spirit, but there is a palpable sadness and desperation that makes gripping but painful reading There is violence contained in a muttered line about cork floorboards than a dozen Bret Easton Ellis novels put together, a true testament to Donoghue s skill at creating empathy for Jack and his mother Room definitely deserves its place on the Booker Prize short list but it is far from perfect The focus on the two central characters leaves others in the novel feeling like broadly painted caricatures There are also some clever post modern allusions to the cult of celebrity, which provide neat satire, but these are tangled with occasional moments, largely towards the end of the novel, where Jack s voice feels a just a little too much like the author s commentary on modern life, rather than simply Jack s view of the world I very much agree with the Audrey Niffenegger quote on the sleeve When it s over you look up the world looks the same but you are somehow different and that feeling lingers for days Several times since finishing the book I ve wondered about the scale of my own world and what lies beyond it having never seen them, are the Pyramids only TV This book was awful Emotionless Annoying.Look, I get it, it s quite difficult to write from the perspective of a 5 year old as a grown up I can hardly remember what it was like being five, and I can t even begin to write from the POV of one I do, however, know an enjoyable story when I see it, and I know when I m annoyed And I know that this book annoyed me greatly.The hallmark of any brilliant novel is the ability to make the reader empathize for the characters in the book I want to be able to understand and experience the joy, suffering, frustration, anger, whatever it is that the main characters and the main narrators feel I got none of that here, due in part to the emotional immaturity and lack of comprehension on the very young main characters part, and in part due to my frustration and annoyance at the five year old narrator.The little boy s is haphazard, almost a stream of consciousness narration I choose Meltedy Spoon with the white all blobby on his handle when he leaned on the pan of boiling pasta by accident Ma doesn t like Meltedy Spoon but he s my favorite because he s not the same. And I have to tell you, it is annoying as fuck In that sense, maybe the book is fairly true to the depiction of kids, because to be honest, a lot of kids are pretty damn annoying to me.Maybe this kid is annoying because he doesn t know anything outside Room Maybe he s immature because of his seclusion Maybe this Maybe that I don t want to have to make excuses for the book s shortcomings.This book takes place in a room Have you ever been locked up for an entire day in a room without a computer or an iPhone for company It is as boring as it sounds, and this book is as boring as it sounds But it s not boring because the mom has the kid and they love each other That makes it awesome, right Not for me I have a little sister She s 10 years younger than I am Consequently, I had to put up with a hell of a lot of little kids growing up They were intelligent, bright, precocious I still couldn t stand their company This book was hell.The story of Ma is pretty awful, because she s been kidnapped and raped and locked up We got no sense of that There is no emotion, there is no horror, there is no knowing what happened to her because the story is told from the perspective of a stupid little child The choice of the narrator completely ruins what should have been a heart wrenching tale. To Five Year Old Jack, Room Is The WorldTold In The Inventive, Funny, And Poignant Voice Of Jack, Room Is A Celebration Of Resilience And A Powerful Story Of A Mother And Son Whose Love Lets Them Survive The ImpossibleTo Five Year Old Jack, Room Is The Entire World It Is Where He Was Born And Grew Up It S Where He Lives With His Ma As They Learn And Read And Eat And Sleep And Play At Night, His Ma Shuts Him Safely In The Wardrobe, Where He Is Meant To Be Asleep When Old Nick Visits Room Is Home To Jack, But To Ma, It Is The Prison Where Old Nick Has Held Her Captive For Seven Years Through Determination, Ingenuity, And Fierce Motherly Love, Ma Has Created A Life For Jack But She Knows It S Not Enough Not For Her Or For Him She Devises A Bold Escape Plan, One That Relies On Her Young Son S Bravery And A Lot Of Luck What She Does Not Realize Is Just How Unprepared She Is For The Plan To Actually Work Told Entirely In The Language Of The Energetic, Pragmatic Five Year Old Jack, Room Is A Celebration Of Resilience And The Limitless Bond Between Parent And Child, A Brilliantly Executed Novel About What It Means To Journey From One World To Another Jesus Christ on a popsicle stick, i can t believe i have to read this argh my colleague Michael hopefully not a GR member loaned this to me clearly he knows that i am a reader but just as clearly he does not get that i like my books to have at least an edge of un reality to them you know, fantasy horror science fiction historical fiction and if not that, then just something, anything that moves them away from mainstream depictions of the modern real world now Room looks like a snapshot of life right from the news or right from my place of work good grief, i deal with depressing enough stuff already goddamnit reading the back cover description was like reading the label of a bottle of poison i do not want to drink this but fine, i respect you Michael and so i will read this one just don t get mad if it takes me two months to get through this fucking thing it took me over two weeks to finish the first half i finished the second half during an afternoon and part of an evening an amazing novel and a very emotional experience i think i ll save writing a review for a little bit and let it sink in for a while.it s hard for me to define exactly why the first half of the novel was so hard to get through at first i convinced myself that the child s perspective was just too hearbreakingly poignant , and i am not the kind of person who is enthusiastic about reading works of heartbreaking poignance but that is patently false i love those kinds of books although i would never admit it openly well, i d say it in a GR review, but i would never say that out loud, if that makes sense perhaps i m a hypocrite that way so then i convinced myself that there was just something wrong with the narrator s voice, something off, he just seemed at different points to be either too precocious or too simple for a child his age i compared him a lot to my nephews, and it didn t gel his thought process did not parallel their thought process but then i thought about this kid s situation, the extreme sort of home schooling he received, the protective wall that his amazing mom built for him, the way he interpreted the worldand it made sense, a whole lot of sense his voice turned out to be a very real one for me, at least based upon my understanding of his young life.and so i realized that the reason i was avoiding coming back to Room s first half was basic, simple it made me want to cry, all the time perhaps i m too soft, maybe i just have too thin a skin it s not like i have any illusions about kids they are not saints to me, nor are they just tiny adults i m comfortable around children and i prefer them to many adults i ve met, but i don t idealize them either however i do have a big natural urge to protect them i m not sure where that comes from i don t think it s based on genetics or upbringing and so it was just really hard to return again and again to a novel that had as its central situation the kind of thing that i try actively to never contemplate as in, i ll turn the channel or put down the paper if i come across a story like this one to be honest, each time i read a few lines of the first half, my eyes would well up a little, that shortness of breath thing happened and often in public, on the bus, at a coffeeshop, reading at a lunch spot the private world of this novel became a public experience to me i avoided this book at first because i do not like to appear weak to the world around me, or to myself.i told the guy who loaned me the book about my issues and was given some advice just stick with it, it will open up and it will be beautiful and so i did and the book did it was good advice.the first half of the book was beautiful as well wonderfully written but thank God, the second half really did open up it was like taking a breath of wonderful, clean air, somewhere in nature, away from the city the humor remained but it was transformed into something wry, something that was still poignant but with a sheen of sardonic humor that i appreciated and, truth be told, perhaps had a level of distance to it that i rather lazily connected to as well the anger i felt in the first half towards Old Nick was inchoate the kind of blind rage that i feel towards anyone who d harm a child the anger i felt in the second half was of a kind that is comfortable, familiar towards the media, towards pop psychology, towards various institutions and the like the second half had lessons to be learned lessons about perception and isolation and materialism and the family bond and the bond between mother son, protector protected the simple fact of lessons to be learned made the second half so much easier to read, it made the narrative positively propulsive in my desire to learn what was going to happen next the horribly and needfully static nature of the book s first half was replaced by an emotional dynamism that really grabbed me again, this is not a critique of the first half, which i think was perfectly written instead, it is a critique of my own ability to deal with challenging, terrifying situations involving kids since i couldn t do anything to stop or even hurt Old Nick, i wanted only to look away and so the second half turned out to be of a familiar road, with familiar pleasures the first half of the book was horribly unique and my mind balked the second half eased me back into a world i could deal with, respond to, and not shut down at the end of the second half, the end of the novel itself, i read those last few sentences over and again, closed the book, and cried such a relief it s funny to think of all the tears i had saved up. I ve read about a lot of different crimes, in far detail than I d care to remember In all the tragedies that I ve read about, manmade or otherwise, no act of violence has ever made my heart wrench than the prolonged imprisonment of a human being for sexual purposes It s also the crime I have the most difficulty in comprehending, as I cannot imagine the amount of inhumanity it would take to capture someone and look her in the eye, day after day for years, without mercy and without pity I still get very upset when I read about these things, even years after the events which no doubt inspired this book.To say that I was very interested in reading this book is therefore an understatement The subject matter and the editorial accolades made this sound like a novel that was not to be missed, and the author s other work is very well reviewed And in the beginning of the book, I was content enough with the developments of the story, as the reader gets to know Jack and his Ma and the Room in which they ve lived for so many years.About halfway through, however, I started to become impatient with the constraints of the format the author had chosen Having a 5 year old narrator became an extremely frustrating exercise, both in terms of his understandable unwillingness to comprehend or listen to certain things and in terms of getting a truly emotional take on the experience I don t fault the decision to write this from a child s point of view, but I do think it would have been a deeper, rewarding story had it been narrated from an older child s perspective perhaps from a 10 year old s POV I m not certain that the voice was entirely convincing in and of itself, either after awhile, the tendency to name every object as if it were a proper pronoun became a little tiresome, and there are interjections of thoughts and passages that are far too mature for Jack s thought processes view spoiler In the world I notice persons are nearly always stressed and have no time, for example, shows up towards the end I also refuse to believe that any 5 year old could go to a Natural History Museum and not be enthralled by the dinosaurs hide spoiler Healthy ambition is a laudable trait and I admire people willing to reach beyond their grasp in the attempt to achieve something special I respect the author s choice to write a dark themed story narrated entirely from the perspective of a five year old boy While the unreliable narrator is nothing new in literature, its deployment here felt fresh and so I give points for that Unfortunately, that is about all I can give points for because the novel itself was a huge miss for me Huge Obviously, the story is intended to be an emotional ordeal with its depiction of a young woman and her 5 year old son being held captive in a garden shack the eponymous Room by a sociopath named Old Nick At the beginning of the story, the woman, who was 19 when she was abducted, has been in the Room for almost 10 years Her son, Jack, just turned 5you can do the math regarding Jack s paternity Neither of them has been outside the Room in all that time This is dark stuff This is uncomfortable stuff This is a story about a horrible person doing horrible things It should have punched me in the core and twisted me up in knots Yet it never affected me Now, if I was a cold, empathy impaired individual, I might chalk up my lack of reaction to a simple case of not my kind of story and leave it at that However, if you ve read any of my reviews, you should have clued into the fact that I m a deeply some would say overly emotional reader Books move me, that s why I read them They make me laugh, cry, rage, exult they make me feel Yet, despite the highly charged subject matter of the story, no than an occasional trickle of emotion ever filtered through to me from the page Something was serious amiss in the delivery Given my blas reaction to the story, I began to suspect that the use of a child narrator was nothing than a huge gimmick designed to help distinguish a story that otherwise had very little to recommend it I know that s not the consensus opinion, but it s honestly how I felt To be fair, it s likely that the use of Jack as the narrator, while an interesting plot device, simply presented too many serious challenges that the novel, unfortunately, was unable to successfully overcome To the good, the author does a nice job of showing us the world of Room through the lens of Jack s childhood perception We learn how Jack has named and anthropomorphized every object in the room and thinks of them as his friends, and how he refers to each channel on the TV as a different planet Initially, this is kind of cute, but it got old and decrepit in short order The real problem for me was that Jack was too detached from the horror of his situation and it care blocked the impact of the story on the reader at least this reader Children Jack s age, while certainly able to show empathy, are generally so egocentric that any feelings of compassion for another s pain are weak and undeveloped, being about parroting behavior they ve learned from caregivers than a true placing of themselves in the shoes of the other person Unfortunately, this worked against my connection with the narrative Jack s happy go lucky outlook was too strong a filter between what I could tell was happening in the story and what I knew I was supposed to be feeling about it Jack s personal, subjective experience of his captivity is completely lacking in any sense of sadness or dread This is because his mother does a wonderful job of sheltering him from the reality of their situation However, Jack also doesn t experience feelings of discomfort about the abuse that his mother is subjected to and this subtracts a great deal from the power of these scenes Without his own internal sense of bewilderment, confinement or pain, much of the intended poignancy was lost on me I knew I was supposed to feel something, but I didn t That s just me If I had found the emotional tether that could have pulled me into the Room with Jack and his mother, my feelings for the book would have been much different The writing is fine and the author s ability to convincingly give voice to Jack was worthy of note I just never found the necessary connection and that is a shame I envy those of you that loved this as I was really looking forward to reading it 2.0 stars. Hey, there Nick Uh, hello Nice day for working in the yard, isn t it Uh, yeah Real nice Say, that is a helluva shed you re building there It s nothing special Oh, don t be modest, Nick It s a real corker It s even got a skylight for some natural light What are you going to be doing in there A little artwork Just, you know, projects and stuff You got a central AC unit for it Plus, I see you put some furniture and a fridge in there If you were married, I d think you were building a man cave to get away from the old ball and chain, but since you re single, I guess you re just planning on spending a lot of time in that shed Uh, yeah Gonna be out here all the time Doing stuff And just look at that steel door with the alarm pad You re aren t going to have to worry about any kids breaking into that Uh, yeah I was worried about kids stealing my.stuff Yep No way, they re getting in there Didn t I see you sheeting it in some kind of metal under the siding Hell, Nick, you could probably lock someone in there like a prison cell Ha ha Uh, right That s a funny idea Well, see ya later, Nick Swing by for a beer sometime 7 Years Later Well, officer, he was kind of quiet Always kept to himself Still can t believe what he did in that shed Who could have known that s what he was doing out there This seriously disturbing story is narrated by Jack and starts on his fifth birthday Jack and his Ma share Room He thinks of every object in Room like Rug or Plant or Meltdy Spoon as a friend to be treasured, and he and Ma spend every day doing their chores and playing games like Scream where they yell as loudly as they can Jack loves his Ma and Room, but he s scared of Old Nick who comes some nights and stays with Ma in Bed while Jack sleeps in Wardrobe Jack s Ma blows his mind by telling him that she used to live Outside, and that Old Nick stole her and brought her to Room seven years ago She has a plan for them to get out of Room, but Jack can t believe that the things he s seen on the fuzzy TV screen for years are real How can there be anything but him and Ma and Room The premise for this book sounds like something that a Stephen King or Dean Koontz would have come up with, and it certainly works as a kind of horror novel as Jack s innocent depiction of life inside Room shows Ma to be the victim of a horrible crime that she is trying to shield her son from What makes this so chilling and heartbreaking is Jack s view of the Room as the entire world, and he has so adapted to it that the very idea of real people existing outside of it is something akin to blasphemy to him.The writing here is exceptional, and Emma Donoghue makes what could be an over the top plot into a character based and all too plausible story It s creepy and chilling and terrible and intriguing and kind of sweet Mostly, it s all kinds of messed up Perhaps the most horrible thing about Room is that Old Nick doesn t believe in providing books because there s plenty of TV to watch, and poor Ma is stuck rereading a few paperbacks like Twilight and The DaVinci Code over and over It s a fate worse than death. Prince Jackerjack 3 Everybody s damaged by something The world is always changing brightness and hotness and soundness, I never know how it s going to be the next minute I was all ready to hate this book Doesn t it sound obnoxious An adult novel about harrowing things, but narrated by a 5 year old Mere gimmickry, right, a showy writing experiment, likely to win praise from the easily impressed.But I don t think I am that easily impressed, and damn, this book is kind of a stunner Because yes, if not handled exactly right, a book narrated by a child probably would be obnoxious I haven t read Extremely Loud Incredibly Close yet, and I might or might not like it, but I already know that it is written in the voice of a precocious 9 year old, and precocious kids usually are pretty annoying But Jack, the narrator of Room, is not really precocious, and Emma Donoghue has managed to capture a realistic child s voice without turning out a book that s overly simplistic or too calculated And I really don t know how she did it As you begin reading this story of a boy who has spent his entire life locked in one small room, the son of the unfortunate Ma who is never named, because she s Ma , who was kidnapped and has been kept in the room for the last seven years, it does seem too cute all the objects in Room are proper nouns with genders, like Floor and Bed and Duvet and Wardrobe, which kind of makes sense because to Jack, they are the only onlys of those things in the world, because the whole world is Room he has a TV, which he thinks shows make believe things that live on planets inside the TV But I kept reading, and there s really remarkable depth to the story even though such a limited narrative scope What really grabbed me is the way the book perfectly captures the malleability of a kid s mind, the way they take what they know and use it as a filter to interpret the stuff they encounter that they don t understand I once read something by Stephen King that posited that all children are or less clinically insane until about age seven, when those parts of their brain firm up and they stop coming up with ideas like, oh it got dark because a giant monster ate the sun And of course, Emma Donoghue knows that we are not 5 year olds, and she somehow manages to weave in all these staggeringly sad truths about the world, and growing up, and our relationships with our parents, and how fleeting time and relationships can be, all into the voice of this little boy who doesn t even realize what he s saying, but it doesn t feel crammed in, or like a cheat the Magical Negro 5 Year Old.I didn t say anything about the plot because I think it really helps to not know much beyond the premise going in and it s one of those books I would really like to have read knowing absolutely nothing at all, but such is life And yes, it s of a heart book than a head book, but I don t think it is bad that sometimes books try to engage us in different ways And certainly there s room, with this premise, for a different kind of book, almost a social satire, but that s not what we have here, and it s still quite an experience. Such a gripping and emotional read I m glad I finally took the chance to pick this up and read it.