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Room: A Novel | [Emma Donoghue]

Room: A Novel

To 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. 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, but what she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
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Publisher's Summary

To 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.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2010 Emma Donoghue (P)2010 Hachette Audio

What the Critics Say

"Powerful.... Seen entirely through Jack's eyes and childlike perceptions, the developments in this novel--there are enough plot twists to provide a dramatic arc of breathtaking suspense--are astonishing.... Donoghue brilliantly portrays the psyche of a child raised in captivity...will keep readers rapt." (Publishers Weekly)

"Emma Donoghue's writing is superb alchemy, changing innocence into horror and horror into tenderness. Room is a book to read in one sitting. When it's over you look up: the world looks the same but you are somehow different and that feeling lingers for days." (Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry)

"This is a truly memorable novel, one that can be read through myriad lenses - psychological, sociological, political. It presents an utterly unique way to talk about love, all the while giving us a fresh, expansive eye on the world in which we live." (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (5004 )
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4.2 (2436 )
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4.2 (2446 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Pamela J United States 09-16-10
    Pamela J United States 09-16-10 Member Since 2014

    Sure, I'd love to hear your story....

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brings so many emotions"

    Spoken in the language of a child, this touching, funny, and emotionally draining book feels like a conversation you're having with your favorite niece or nephew. How the author can make something so horrific sound normal (counting your teeth while you wait for the personification of evil to visit your mother) , and what we think of as so normal sound extraordinary (stores aren't real, they're only pretend) is amazing. The narrators are simply the best. I highly recommend this book, but be ready for an emotional rollar coaster.

    37 of 47 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi Warriner 09-18-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Best since The Help"

    In Plato's Allegory of the Cave, he says that if we were all prisoners chained in a cave, we would think shadows cast in the cave by the surface world were reality, and that if we were let out of the cave to see the surface world we wouldn't believe it. I wonder if Emma Donoghue decided to retell the allegory from the point of view of a five year old.

    I confess that at first I didn't care for the 5 year old's narrator, but I let that go because the story is so well written. It does not for a second insult the intelligence. Imagine a book written from a science fiction perspective about what life is like on our planet. And the person telling you is five. And he has passing knowledge of the world but only through what is shown on television. This is that book.

    Like The Help, this book uses several narrators which was a great choice. I am only at the halfway mark, but unless the end is horribly disappointing, I am halfway to one of the best books I've downloaded this year.

    32 of 41 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura New York, NY, United States 10-19-10
    Laura New York, NY, United States 10-19-10 Member Since 2010

    Laura the Listener

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    13
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    "I missed adult conversation"

    I have reservations about this book for two reasons. The first is a personal preference in that I found it too disturbing. But then again, I am the type who can't watch horror movies because I think about them all night and freak myself out, and that's pretty much what happened with Room. If you don't tend to do that to yourself, you could take this reservation with a grain of salt.

    The second is that I started to feel a small piece of what Ma must have in the book when she was held captive with Jack: I just wanted to have an adult conversation.

    For the first part of the book, I felt the voice of a child worked very well, and in a way it shelters the ready from some of the realities Ma must have faced. But by the climax in the middle, I was ready for a grown up.

    The second half of the book had its charming moments, but Jack's revelations could have come from any child, whether in his situation or not.

    Overall, a very clever, unique, idea, but I'm not buying the hype.

    15 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen Franklin California 12-05-12
    Ellen Franklin California 12-05-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Worst performance I ever listened to."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would not recommend listening to it (reasons explained below). I would recommend reading it. It is a fascinating, horrifying tale.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked that the story was told primarily from the child's perspective.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The performers voices, tone, and intensity were inappropriate in nearly all cases. As much as I liked that the story was primarily from the his perspective, Jack could have made his observations without the cloying sense of wonderment at all things. Ma sounded too old for 26 years. Grandma sounded 90 instead of 59. Old Nick had too "normal" a voice. He should have sounded more sinister. I was anxious to finish the book to be done with those voices.


    Do you think Room needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sees for Miles Oakland, CA, US 12-01-12
    Sees for Miles Oakland, CA, US 12-01-12 Member Since 2001
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    "Most annoying narrator ever."
    What would have made Room better?

    Honestly, I found the voice of the child so annoying that I had to stop listening. The speech as written sounds contrived, and the reader's interpretation of it hit me like fingernails on a chalkboard.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    No comment. I had to go to reviews of the novel to find out what the big whoop was. This is a title I'll have to read in print.


    Would you be willing to try another one of the narrators’s performances?

    Not in this lifetime.


    What character would you cut from Room?

    No comment


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue Williamsburg, VA, United States 10-21-12
    Sue Williamsburg, VA, United States 10-21-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I can't think of any positives"
    Would you try another book from Emma Donoghue and/or the narrators?

    Not the child like narrator---I don't need children whining in my ears


    Has Room turned you off from other books in this genre?

    yes


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Too much child whining


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Room?

    The whole tooth thing was disgusting...if the author was trying to make a point, I think it could have been better served with some other imagery.


    Any additional comments?

    After all the critical reviews, ths was very disappointing.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cindy FRIENDSWOOD, TEXAS, United States 06-22-12
    Cindy FRIENDSWOOD, TEXAS, United States 06-22-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Don't waste your time."

    Worst narration, hands down. I don't understand how it got so many good reviews. The only reason I kept listening was because I knew it had to get better, buy it never did.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 05-28-12
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 05-28-12 Member Since 2015

    A school administrator and avid reader and listener of books. At least an hour of every day is spent in the car, and that's where the bulk of my listening is done. I tend to listen to books on "faster" mode so I can get through more books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Stunning throughout"

    At times the story is difficult and heart-wrenching, and other times it is hopeful and satisfying. Sometimes I felt physically ill while learning of Ma & Jack's experiences. And despite all that turmoil, it was a truly amazing story, although not for everyone. The story, told through 5 year old Jack, is about Jack and his Ma who are held hostage in an 11x11 room. Just the premise of the story will rule out some readers, and that is ok: you need to be able to hear of their difficulties, their triumphs and their failures.

    This is one of the best audio books I've ever listened to. Different narrators voice those in the story, and when you listen to Jack, you really believe you are listening to a five year old. Stunning.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tammy 02-02-12
    Tammy 02-02-12

    Wife, mom of one amazing son, and I have the second best job in the world, working in a bookstore :)

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not what I expected, didn't pull me in at all"
    Would you try another book from Emma Donoghue and/or the narrators?

    Of course I would try another book from either.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Something by Christopher Moore


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of the narrators?

    I wouldn't change anyone, it was just the story that I did not care for.


    What character would you cut from Room?

    None


    Any additional comments?

    I really wanted to like this story, I just could not get into it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Tichy 02-07-11
    R. Tichy 02-07-11

    4 peace

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "I miss Jack already,,,,"

    This is one of the best books I have listened to in a while. A poignantly funny, often bittersweet, eye-opening experience of how a mother's love for her son is limitless. Jack's inquisitve nature is quite amusing - I found myself often giggling out loud. Strength and survival underline the nurturing way "Ma" cares for Jack, despite her bouts of depression. It is a glass half full story in which a woman makes the best of what she can get her hands on, while drawing from her own own childhood memories to create the best possible life for her son, despite the horrific conditions they endure in what they call ROOM. Once out in the world there is so much to learn and see for Jack - and I enjoyed every minute of it. I will miss learning about "outside" with Jack, such is the fresh view of the world through the eyes of a five-year-old!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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