Stefani Sloma

Book Review: Rooms by Lauren Oliver

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Not much of a ghost story and more of a family drama, Lauren Oliver’s first book for adults, Rooms, will intrigue some and bore others.


AUTHOR: Lauren Oliver
RELEASE DATE: September 23, 2014
GENRE: Paranormal, fantasy
LENGTH: 320 pages

Check out Rooms: A Novel for yourself and pre-order today!

Richard Walker has died, and his family – alcoholic ex-wife, sex-obsessed daughter, suicidal son, and young granddaughter – return to his home for his memorial, to clean up the house, and to receive their inheritance. But they are not alone; the ghosts of two previous residents of the house, Alice and Sandra, oversee the goings-on through the dust passing through a light beam, the cracks in the walls, the breeze passing through from the window. The novel is narrated by these two ghosts and the four living people who are visiting.

This sounds like a really great idea, right? It is, but the execution fell a little flat for me in parts. I haven’t read any of Oliver’s young adult books, but it seems that she was trying too hard to make it clear that this is a book for adults. There were descriptions of boobs at least once per chapter – even the CHILD’S. This is also not much of a ghost story. Yes, there are ghosts, but I would classify this one as a family drama before I would call it a ghost story; it’s full of the secrets, drama, tragedy, heartbreak, and skeletons in the closet of all of the good family dramas. The members of this family are just unappealing. Each of them is unhappy with their lives for various reasons and I guess that is what forces them to have such unlikeable personalities. I think that’s part of the point – to say that their lives suck and the afterlife sucks as well, but it made it unpleasant to read in parts.

As for the several points of view, I really enjoyed both Alice’s and Sandra’s, the resident ghosts. They’ve been living together for a long time now but have been fighting to keep their biggest secrets hidden from each other, a feat that is quite difficult when you have no barriers and occupy the same walls, rooms, and air as the other. Their bickering and constant contradicting of the other’s thoughts was hilarious and kept me reading. On the other hand, Trenton, the teenage son of the deceased, had me rolling my eyes, and I found it hard to connect with both him and his older sister, Minna, who is obsessed with sex (again, another one of those moments when you can tell Oliver is just trying to show this is an adult book).

While this book isn’t what I was expecting – a ghost story – it was enjoyable because of its writing, which was quite interesting, its execution of the ghosts and how they permeate every dust mote and piece of wood and breeze in the house, and the family drama (which, though I wasn’t expecting it, was interesting though sometimes boring). This is one of those slow to burn, slow to reveal its secrets kind of book. Personally, it wasn’t really for me, but I think fans of literary fiction and family dramas would be interested.

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