Tuesday 29 December 2015

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Review: Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Rooms by Lauren OliverRooms by Lauren Oliver (reading copy) - Compulsive and powerful ghost story narrated by two spirits who inhabit the walls of an old house. It's a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways.

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.
From Goodreads.

Being the huge fan of Lauren Oliver's novels that I am, I was really excited when I first heard that Oliver wrote an adult book, Rooms, about ghosts and secrets and the past. However, I didn't enjoy Rooms as much as I hoped.

When Richard Walker dies, the family he has left returns to sort out his belongings and to discover what they have inherited, partly hoping they've inherited his wealth, partly wanting to be well away from the house and all it's memories. The lives of Caroline, Richard's ex wife, and their daughter Minna and son Trenton weren't happy ones when they lived together. Caroline drinks to forget and to cope, Minna struggles to find any kind of happiness, and tries to get what little she can in the wrong places, and Trenton, who feels worthless and unloved, believes there's only one way out. But they are not alone in the house. The ghosts of Alice and Sandra, previous tenants of the house, are living in the walls. The house is their body, and also hides their own secrets. The arrival of the family upsets their peace, with squabbles and noise and movement. The pasts and secrets of them all collide in the days the family are there, and all that is buried will come to light.

What I love most about Oliver is her writing style. I have raved about her writing and imagery countless times before, and the beauty of her words can be found within the pages of Rooms. However, the story just didn't interest me as much as I thought it would. I found it to be very slow, and most of the characters so self-absorbed. They all had their issues, and I did feel sorry for them, but I couldn't bring myself to really care.

Each person has a chance at narrating; Sandra and Alice each narrate their stories in first person, and we have third person narration from Caroline, Trenton, Minna, and occasionally, Amy, Minna's daughter. They each have a story, and we jump from one to the other, all the while following what's happening in the present. I'm not new to stories that jump about, nor averse to them, but it just didn't work for me with Rooms. I found the plot quite slow as it was, but it feels even slower when you jump from one person's past to another.

Sadly, Rooms just didn't work for me. But it is a really interesting premise, and I do think this is a story a lot of other people would enjoy. It just isn't my book, unfortunately.

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for the reading copy.

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Published: 25th September 2014
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Lauren Oliver's Website


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