Just like on tv

When I held “Room” in my hands for the first time, I read the back and front cover, looked at the front picture, but they hardly revealed anything about the novel’s content. All it showed was a lot of good reviews.
It annoyed me, but also made me curious so I decided to give this mysterious book a chance.

“Room” by Emma Donoghue is a story inspired on a true event: “The Fritzl case”. This case was a cruel crime in which Josef Fritzl abused and raped his own daughter – Elisabeth Fritzl – and locked her up in a cellar. Elisabeth didn’t see daylight for 24 years and so didn’t three of the resulting children the first years of their lives.
Here is a video containing a part of a docemtary about this crime:

“Room” tells you pretty much the same story as this criminal case, but fortunately it’s the softer version of it. In this book a woman “Ma” and her son Jack are being held in captivity in an eleven-by-eleven-foot space. The world of this five-year-old boy consists of nothing but what exists inside the four walls. There is a tv in Room but Jack was led to believe that everything in it is just deceit.
On this site you’ll find a sketch of Room. Try to imagine what it would be like if the few things you see on it are the only things in your entire world.

Despite the numerous good reviews and the strong compelling storyline, the book has far from fulfilled my expectations. It was monotonous and way too predictable: during the first half of the novel, Ma and Jack are just living their empty and sad lives. It’s only at the middle of the book when they finally make a plan to escape. They conduct the first the best plan and everything runs smoothly. Emma Donoghue wasted the only moment of action by leaving out all tension and thrills.
Once Ma and Jack are in “Outside”, Jack persists they had ended up in tv. The real world is making Jack afraid but high-spirited and inquisitive at the same time. He was overwhelmed. The most normal things for us were like miracles for Jack. “I’ve been in the air three times, I’ve seen ants and helicopters and dentists!” he cries out the sixth day in Outside.
Intially, Jack’s confusion and astonishment are comical and very endearing, like when he shouts “Look, Ma, a man putting himself on fire!” when the man is lightning his cigarette. However, his naivety is getting tiresome during the story.

A good storyline but – in my opinion – poorly accomplished. There was a certain lack of satisfaction during the reading because so little was happening. Half of the book should’ve been skipped, instead of filling those pages up with nothing but pointless words. Yet, you’ll read quickly through the novel because it was written from Jack’s – a 5-years-old-kid’s – perspective. That makes the use of language deficient and easy.
Altogether, a gripping story which would be twice as gripping if it would’ve contained twice fewer pages.

Post by Niki Kampen V5E


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