Friday, September 12, 2014

Review: Rooms by Lauren Oliver

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I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Rooms by Lauren OliverRooms by Lauren Oliver
Published by Ecco on September 23rd 2014
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Paranormal
Source: HarperCollins
Buy on Amazon

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.

Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.

I didn’t love this, but it’s a very unique – I’d even say peculiar – story with some candid personalities and buried secrets. And of course, Lauren’s writing makes the storyline so intriguing that it compels you to read even if it’s not blowing your mind. This review will be short, because the whole of this (also short) book is one haunting secret after another being unearthed into a story full of tragedy.

Brought together in this house by the death and upcoming burial of a husband and father, this story encircles the lives of half a dozen people who make up our narrators of this novel. While we learn the ins and outs of what makes these people who they are, we also learn that, ultimately, this is the ghosts’ tale. Even though this involves ghosts and a haunted house, it’s far from being a horror novel. It’s a family drama full of secrets and blame, of death and broken lives. It’s undoubtedly very well written, constructed with many layers and strings that tie everything together.

With so many POVs, though, comes along a difficulty to fully connect with these characters. I very much enjoyed both Alice and Susan – the resident ghosts; their bickering is a lot of fun, and you just know they’ve got a dark secret that’s keeping them there. For some reason, though, I kept confusing their backstories and forgetting which history belonged to which ghost. Maybe it’s my lack of attention, or maybe the voices were not distinct enough; I think it’s a little bit of both. Aside from those two, and maybe Trenton with his suicidal thoughts, I found myself getting bored with the other characters. In turn, I never grew emotionally attached to this story, which does have a lot of heartbreak and sadness meant to hit you right in the heart. As everyone’s lives are painted with a dark brush, crafting them into somber, self-loathing characters, it’s natural to want to keep at arm’s length like I did. And in doing so, I was left wanting more from it, never being completely enthralled until maybe the last 5 chapters or so when the ghosts finally face their demons.

The story that Lauren paints is not joyful and happy, it gets sadder and sadder with every thread that unravels. Until finally, you’re left with a broken heart and a disturbing thought that life, sometimes, just truly sucks. The writing itself is not the issue at all – it’s beautifully written with a poetic sort of feel – I simply did not fall into the emotional depths that this tale was obviously striving for.

“Everything comes up in the end”


3 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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16 Responses to “Review: Rooms by Lauren Oliver”

  1. Carmel @ Rabid Reads

    Aaww, the re-apperance of your old banner makes me sad. Bye-bye Jenni. 🙁 Do you have any plans to search for a new associate reviewer? Anyway, back to your review, I usually prefer HEAs over a broken heart, so other than Oliver’s beautiful writing style, I’m not convinced that Rooms is for me. Next! 😉

    • Giselle

      I know we were so awesome on the banner together! Booo! I’m going to give it a go by myself again. I might think about another co blogger in the future, but it would need to be someone I know already – which would mean they already have a blog, so dunno how that would work out haha. We’ll see 🙂 This has does have a good ending in terms of.. things are resolved, but you find out the reason why the ghosts haven’t moved on yet and that’s what’s heartbreaking. It’s very well written for sure!

  2. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I’ve never read a Lauren Oliver book, but there’s something about her book that just pushes me away instead of making me want to read them.
    This sounds like it has a unique premise, but it’s a shame you weren’t able to become emotionally invested in it. Also, multiple POVs suck.
    Great review, Giselle!

  3. Anatea

    I’ve only read Panic by Lauren, but I didn’t really like the book. So I’m not sure if I’ll be reading this one. It doesn’t sound that appealing to be, especially if it is as sad as you say it is. I guess I’d really have to feel up for reading a book like that. Great review Giselle!

  4. Alexa

    Ugh I don’t like when there are so many POVs in one book because I find it really hard to connect to the characters that way. Plus Oliver has upset me with a bad book before so I don’t know that I will keep reading her books.
    Thanks for the great review!

  5. Gina @ My Precious

    You are so lucky to have received a review copy of this one. Lauren O. is one of my favorite authors. I think I’m going to really enjoy this book. Not unlike you, I still think I’ll struggle with the multiple perspectives, I always do in these type of narratives.

  6. Olivia

    Ooh, too many point of views is definitely a turn off for me because my memory is pretty short term and this might all get a little too confusing for me. And as you said, it is hard to relate to characters that way! On top of that, I have yet to read any Lauren Oliver. Yeah, not even Delirium, which I have been putting off for some reason xD I think I might start with that instead of this one though…

  7. Teresa S.

    I’m not sure why I keep thinking that I’ll finally like another of Lauren Oliver’s books. I enjoyed Delirium, but Requiem and Pandemonium fell flat for me. Still, I purchased Panic and now, Rooms. I’ve been stuck on page 54 for three days now and I’m not usually one to DNF a book. I just can’t connect with it. Maybe I just have to admit that her writing is just not for me. I really wanted to love this book and I was really looking forward to Panic as well. Now I’m scared to even pick it up. Disappointing.