Five-year-old Jack and his Ma live in Room, a single square space 11 feet by 11 feet in size. They have Skylight that changes colour depending on whether it is night or day. They have Bed to sleep on and Bath to wash in. Sometimes Door opens and a man, Old Nick, comes in to visit. Jack has to hide in Wardrobe and be quiet while Old Nick speaks to Ma and makes Bed creak...
From the very first pages, I was hooked. It takes awhile to get used to Jack's unusual style of explaining things, but after a few pages, all you can do is admire the author's talent at creating such a unique voice. The reader always has a slight advantage: knowing what Jack doesn't know and cannot understand, i.e. that Jack's mother has been kidnapped and locked into this room against her will. That Jack was born in Room and does not know (and is finding it hard to imagine!) anything Outside it. That they are prisoners and Old Nick is their captor. Jack's mother has tried to make Jack's life as normal and happy as possible, which is why she has tried to protect him by not telling him the truth about their situation: that Room is a prison and what they should do, what they need to do, is leave Room, escape and live Outside.
Inside Room, Ma and Jack fill their days with playing games, singing songs, telling stories and reading the five books that Jack has, over and over again. They have Phys Ed, where they run and jump around Room to try to keep fit. They have Sunday Treat, where they get to ask for something special from Old Nick in addition to their usual diet. All this is just a game for Jack - he doesn't know that this is not "normal" life. Room is not only his home, it's his entire world. Everything Outside is "TV", i.e. not real. He is curious, but also scared of the Outside world, which to him is as fascinating and strange as outer space:
Beep beep. That's Door.
I listen very hard. In comes the cold air. If I had my head out of Wardrobe, there'd be Door opening, I bet I could see right into the stars and the spaceships and the planets and the aliens zooming around in UFOs. I wish I wish I wish I could see it.
Every weekday Jack and Ma climb as near Skylight as they can and "do Scream": they shout and make as much noise as they can. Sometimes, in the night, Ma flashes their lamp at Skylight: three short flashes, three long... Jack only sees these habits as funny games that they play, but Ma is getting desperate to escape...
Warning: do not read too many reviews of this book before you read it, because it can be easily spoiled and I think some reviews already say too much...
You can also visit a virtual Room, created on the basis of the book. :)
...and in Finnish:
Arvuuttelin jo kirjaa lukiessa sen mahdollista suomentamista. Tammi-kustantamo on kommentoinut ainakin Olivian kirjablogin arvosteluun, että romaania ollaan suomentamassa, mutta aikataulu on vielä avoin. Suomentajalle tässä riittääkin haastetta: Jackin ajatusmaailma on niin omaperäinen ja kerrontatyyli rikkoo kaikkia mahdollisia kielioppisääntöjä. Määräisten ja epämääräisten artikkelien puute on englannin kielessä erityisen silmiinpistävää: Jackin pienessä maailmassa, eli Huoneessa, kun on vain yksi Sänky, yksi Ovi, yksi Vaatekaappi jne., joten a ja the sanoille ei ole tarvetta.
Roomista ovat lumoutuneet ainakin Cathy, Miia ja Booksy.
Emma Donoghue: Room. Picador. 2010.
The Telegraph: Room
Buy Room from The Book Depository