Room is a claustrophobic tale of terror, captivity, co-dependence and isolation narrated by a 5-year old child, which makes the reading experience unique, to say the least. In fact, I think that had it not been for this narrative technique, I would have probably sat this one out, out of fear of wasting time over just another thriller full of cliffhangers, or worse, another melodramatic story intended to make the globe cry uncontrollably.
I assure you that Room is neither of the above. Emma Donoghue somehow manages to avoid these clichés and touches upon the subject of entrapment with real sensitivity. What’s most important, for me, is that not once does she cross the line where emotional description ends and the populist logic of offering graphic details to the masses begins. Let me say it again: Room is not the expected thriller!
That said, I believe that there is still some element of emotional manipulation by default, as Donoghue is said to have been inspired by real stories of sexual enslavement and captivity (mostly the Elizabeth Fritzl case apparently). But by no means does she fall in the trap of producing high-quality tabloid journalism.
Oh, just to clarify: I have absolutely nothing against thrillers in general, but in the case of a novel that is inspired by real stories of real people who have faced real traumas, one must be very cautious to not make the victim go through the horror again.
I find that Emma Donoghue knows very well not to go there. She gets inside the mind of a child and tells a disturbing story in a way that’s heartbreaking and convincing and I totally salute her for that.