My initial reaction to this after reading the cover of the novel Room and its first two sections was, who wants to read a book just set in one room? I was concerned it would turn out to be like Colin Farrell´s awful film Phone Booth in which he was in a Phone Booth for most of the film and tat unsurprisingly led to very little drama. The book however picks up and becomes much more exciting if you carry on reading.
The plot centres on Jack, a five-year old who with is mother is trapped in ´Room´. It becomes clear that this is because his mother was abducted and forcibly imprisoned seven years before. Jack is actually the product of the repeated rape of his mother by their abductor Old Nick. The story is told from the perspective of Jack which is both appealing and interesting but also problematic, for example, could a five year old really use vocabulary such as zeitgeisty. However it is endearing and funny as Jack takes most things literally. His only link with the outside world is the television so when people talk about something being a mercy´ he automatically thinks of Dora the Explorer and assumes they are saying thank you in Spanish.
The book essentially deals with the relationship between mother and son. He sees himself and his mother as one and the same. Jack does not understand that there is a world outside Room and therefore unlike his mother does not view it as a prison; “In Room I was safe and Outside is scary”. Room is his only reality and he makes friends with the furniture, which are all given their own identity, shown by the use of capital letters in the text. It is particularly interesting the activities that Ma comes up with to deal with the imprisonment and to think about humans try to conquer adversity and how they adapt to their environments.
Donoghue was inspired by Fritzl case but she tries to avoid stereotypes of child abuse or Stockholm Syndrome. When Jack is asked if Old Nick abused him , he answers yes, “he cutted off the power so the vegetables went slimy”
The first two sections of the book I found quite intense and claustrophobic and because they are trapped in a room I found myself desperate for them to get out and for something to happen. I read these parts extremely slowly. Fortunately the later parts are much more tense, funny and interesting. It is worth reading.