by Emma Donoghue
We've probably all heard stories about some girl who gets locked up by a creep in a basement or something similar and gets held against her will for years. In Germany there was a case where a girl was held for something like 19 years I think.
"Room" involves the story of one such woman. Except it's not really about her ordeal. Instead the story is told through her five-year-old son Jack who was born in captivity two years after the woman he only calls Ma was snatched off the street.
Because he knows nothing else, everything that's happening is normal to Jack. Ma tells him that where they live (Room) is the only real thing in the world and everything the TV shows is make-believe. So he never questions what's going on; to him there is no outside world.
The first half of the book deals with Jack and Ma's daily routines for the most part. A lot of these are pretty normal--eating, exercising, doing laundry--and some like "Old Nick" visiting in the night are not normal to us but normal to Jack.
The second half of the book deals with Ma and Jack finally emerging from Room and having to adjust to the outside world.
I thought most of this novel was brilliant. Jack might not sound like a "normal" five-year-old, but as we learn he's not normal. He has a higher-than-average vocabulary and can read. The way he describes some things like "wanting some" and the squeaks of the bed when Old Nick visits Ma in the night cloak a lot of the gory details about their captivity.
What bugged me at the end though was that the ending itself fell a little flat. I kept feeling like the story was building to something, but when it was over at the 94% mark it seemed more as if it had fizzled. Really the dramatic climax is somewhere around 50% into the book and so when you look back the remaining 45% was mostly a lot of details that weren't really going anywhere except to show Jack swapping Room for the much larger Room of the world.
Still this was a real page-turner, or screen-turner since I read it on the Kindle. I'd highly recommend it so much as you're not like some readers and such a coward that the very idea of this book frightens you into giving it one star.
That is all.