In Room, the breakout novel by Emma Donoghue, you will learn of a harrowing and gripping story that stirs with emotion. Inspiring a recent feature film, which has gone to the Academy Awards, there is much to be found in this unique tale. Room centres around the situation that Ma and Jack, a young mother and her son, find themselves in. This predicament is the fact that they are constricted to the small confines of a room that has served as a prison to Ma for SEVEN years. Jack is her son, a five year old boy, who was born in this horrible containment. Their captor goes by the name of Old Nick, a mysterious and threatening figure. Just by describing this scenario, elements of darkness and horror begin to dawn. These themes continue throughout the story.
Not only does Room display a bold and risky topic to cover, it also shows this willingness throughout many elements of the novel. With the main setting being the room itself, there was so much potential for this choice to go wrong. But the author successfully used this location as the defining factor of the book. The room shows symbolism on all levels and adds elements of claustrophobia to the atmosphere. Not only does the room serve as a place for these characters to inhabit, it also takes the role of a dark and menacing character itself. Another key point of the novel is that it is told through the eyes of Jack, giving a seemingly innocent and child-like style to the writing. While the reader may know what Jack is truly seeing, he sees it quite differently. This lends to the themes of the book. These include innocence, love, horror, and tenderness. As you can tell, these are all drastically opposing themes, further showing the range of emotions and thoughts the novel expresses.
Now, after reading the book myself, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It fit my preference of writing and really had me thinking about the conflicts and morals of the story. I felt that the characters were authentic, and the love and bond between mother and son immersed me in the plot. There were certain sequences and an outstanding climatic act that made me nervous and excited for the characters, feelings that are rare for me in reading novels.
My favourite part of the book was the first act, which established the seemingly whimsical Room and was creative in establishing key plot points. If I was one to truly nitpick or criticize, I would say that the final act felt a bit slow, and lacked the gravitas and suspense of the beginning. However, these are small complaints and didn’t damper my reading experience significantly. I truly loved Room, and I would recommend it to serious readers who want a mature and darker novel.