I bought this book some years ago just on a whim and tried to read it twice before I put it aside. With the good review of the movie, I tried a third time and surprisingly finished it in a week.
This book is narrated through the eyes of a five-year-old boy named Jack, who had never seen the world outside the room he is imprisoned in with his mother since the day he was born. His view of the world is limited through a skylight and the TV, which he knows it as not real, as his diet of television programs consists mainly of Dora and other cartoons, and sometime nature program. He names every object in the room, treating them as a living thing to whom he shares a relationship with. The beginning pages thus are filled with his interaction with Ma, his mother, and Room, Rug, Meltedy Spoon, Wardrobe and other objects.
Once you get used to the narrative and get past it, it’s easy to carry on with the story of how his mother was kidnapped by Old Nick at 19, raped and imprisoned in a room in a backyard. Jack has a happy life as he sees it. He has a structured time table which Ma and he follow strictly, until 8.30pm when he retreats to his wardrobe to sleep. That’s when Old Nick visits with grocery and removes the garbage. He is not to meet Old Nick and vice versa.
The pace starts when Ma plans an escape for them, requiring Jack to pretend to be dead and then jumping out of a truck to get help. He succeeds and they leave Room, which although is his mother’s prison, is his refuge. Because he has no interaction with the outside world, everything to him is literal. “He is a doll.” I am not a doll. “Hello Sweetie.” I am not sweet.
I like how the author incorporate a multi-ethnic society. The first outside person Jack sees is an Indian father Ajeet and his dog Raja and daughter. The policeman who comes to him is Officer Ho (presumbly a Chinese).
Although most time, the book does portray the thoughts of a five-year-old realistically, at times, Jack seems to think like an adult – he knows when his mother is being sarcastic.
I can’t wait to see the film and was told to prepare hankie. Funny how I didn’t need any hankie while reading the book. Which makes me think – if the movie rather than book stirs your emotion, is the movie better than the book?
You tell me.