Hello there and welcome to The Turndog Review: the books I read, reviewed.
I aren’t a professional critic, instead all I offer is my honest opinion into everything I read. However, I do this with a difference, as I don’t only offer my personal views on the Writing, Plot, and Story, but also the Book Cover, Book Marketing, and Author Website.
We live in a modern world where being a writer is different to years gone by, and I feel the whole experience of the book matters. This covers everything from the initial find, the actual read, and everything that follows. Therefore I hope this review not only offers a great insight into the book and author, but also into my own mind and what makes me tick.
So without further ado let’s begin, and today I focus on Room by Emma Donoghue
Read: January 2012
Discovered: As part of my January Goodreads Book Challenge
Room is published by Picador and shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize in 2010. It’s a rather unique book that uses the POV of a 5-year old child, with much of the story occurring in a very confined space.
The plot focuses on Jack and his Ma who are both imprisoned in a small Room. In the early stages you’re left wondering why they are, and then as the story progresses you finally get to understand why, and how such circumstances could affect both a grown woman and a little boy whose world is so small.
It’s a tough read because we’re conditioned into such a particular way, and reading the POV of a small boy is stilted at best. You find yourself re-reading parts, and drifting off, but it’s this POV that makes it so charming and gives it a unique edge against so many other books.
I was left feeling mixed about the whole endeavor though, because at times I wanted to give up and then a few pages later couldn’t put it down. I wouldn’t say such inconsistencies are a good point, but it redeems itself in parts and makes it difficult to hate.
It’s emotional and you find yourself questioning your own motives. How would you react and what would you do in such circumstances. This isn’t a happy go lucky read, and as such you have to respect each page because so much work has been placed in it.
The POV is also very good, despite being difficult to take in, and it’s a very gutsy move by Emma. It really gets you into the mind of a five year old and how you may look at the world. This is a tough thing to accomplish, so hats off to the author.
The book is basically split into two half’s, and in my opinion so little happens in the latter that I feel a tad duped. It drags on and you keep thinking something will occur and kick it back into life, yet it never comes. In a way it’s needed, but I feel it could have been approached differently.
I also didn’t fall in love with ma’, although I’m not sure if this was intentional or not. I wanted to, yet couldn’t do it, and I consider this a negative because so much empathy should be given to a woman in need like that. I felt bad not liking her more than I did.
I find the cover for Room very appealing and certainly showcases the story well. The text is playful and childlike, as if a young boy had drawn it on. Yet the author name and title stand out, so a good mixture of style and function has been found.
As for the picture, well it’s blurred, but I don’t find this a problem. It helps the cover stand out, but also provides some intrigue. This is no bad thing in my book, and overall I think it communicates the book in a very effective manner.
Although published traditionally, I feel this book does a great job at marketing from within. Picador make a conscious effort to engage here, and the Kindle version provides links to videos and further content. It’s so simply done, yet the gain can be so high.
I clicked on some of the links and it adds a new dimension to things. I really hope I see more of this in the future because it allows me to extend my relationship with the book. This is what reading’s all about, surely?
Author Website & Engagement:
Emma’s personal site is rather bland and simple, and overall looks as though it was created in 2001. The site for the book is great though, with interactive menus, audio, and a great insight into how Room was made.
As for Emma’s engagement, well it’s rather old school with little in terms of online communication. As I’ve said time and time again, this isn’t a bad thing because not all authors need this. The keyword is engagement, so the question remains whether Emma does this or not.
Considering her story is on a strong subject I can imagine her supporters becoming loyal and wanting more. Does Emma provide this extension? Not from what I can find, which is a shame.
I would love to say I liked Room, but it was a perfect example of average. I loved the premise and in parts, the POV, but I also feel it dragged on and lost its way.
I certainly see why it got notice for awards, after all it deals with a very powerful message and its unique manner is interesting. The execution was always going to be difficult however, and in the end it did well to avoid disaster.
As for the final grade, well, the marketing within the book and by Picador as a whole is good, but Emma’s engagement is less so. It’s a shame, because I want to see authors of all types doing more to be active with their readers.
Taking everything into account my score is…
3 Turndogs out of 5
Thanks for reading this version of The Turndog Review. I review every book I read, not only for the writing, but the marketing, website, and general communication from the author.
Turndog Millionaire – @turndog_million