SPOILER ALERT!

A Return and Room

Room - Emma Donoghue

I've not posted here in a while, but I'm coming back for another go. My reading intensity has ramped up again recently, as the need to escape into made up worlds with made up people has increased. Having said that, I am just over half way through Room, which is not set in a made up world and the characters, whilst fictional, are not fantastical.
I've been meaning to pick this one up for a while, but the library ebook copy I had was formatted horrendously. As I wanted a "quickish" read that would fill a gap whilst I select my next long book from my TBR pile, I thought I'd do some calibre tweaking for my Kindle and give this a go. I started it at about 11pm tonight (or last night, whichever) and as of about 1.15am I was 57% through (cheers, Kindle stats!). I'm enjoying it, if you can enjoy such a depressing topic. Having a huge interest in child and developmental psychology, I love the fact that this is written from the child's POV, and the way he processes his environment and situation is almost too believable. The confusion and fear of the Outside is all too close to my own experiences of being outside of the care homes and units I have spent so much time in (long term mental health issues), and that's despite the 16 years I had living a "normal" life to prepare me.
I'm not sure where the next 40% of the book will go, with what I presume being the main event having just occurred (trying to avoid spoilers as much as possible!), although I am really hoping that we get to see how Jack copes with life from this point on, and preferably have a happy ending. I seem to remember some criticism of the writing from reviews I read a long time ago, but I have found no issues with it, it matches up perfectly with how I imagine Jack sees and feels everything. The story felt a little slow to begin with, but I realise it was important to build up the background to Jack's life so far, to understand how he has lived, so that we can understand how he is affected by the later changes. The only small criticism I'd make is that he seems remarkably advanced for a child who is just 5 years old and has had only the teaching his mother has been able to give in Room. Maybe this is completely feasible, but I feel that placing Jack's age at 7 or 8 would have made it a little more plausible. I know he is delayed in some areas, but he does show a certain level of maturity that I find hard to believe would be present in a child that young.
I will reserve final rating until I have finished the book completely, but at the moment I'd be tempted to give it a solid four stars, if not slightly higher, as it is both gripping and horrifying, fascinating and depressing. It's quite a marvel that these elements are balanced so perfectly, that the situation is not made overly light but that the reader is not so disgusted and horrified that they do not want to read just one more chapter.