Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rooms by Lauren Oliver Provides Review of Family's Life at Time of Death...Including of the Ghosts Who Still Live There...

"Be quiet, Sandra." In the many, many
years I have been here, in this house,
in the new body, my faith in the Christian
conception of the after life has been
considerably taxed. But there is no doubt
about one thing: having Sandra with me
is undoubtedly a hell.
Minna grabs the girl's arm, pulls her back. "Don't touch anything, Amy," she says. "This whole place is crawling with germs." The girl, Amy, hands back obediently, while Minna takes several tentative steps into the kitchen, keeping one hand in front of her as though she's walking in the dark. When she is within reach of the kitchen table, where a coffee mug--one of the nurse's mugs, half full, which has begun to stink of sour milk--has been left...she makes a sudden grab for it, letting out a noise somewhere between a gasp and a laugh.
"This thing," she says, "I think it's even uglier than I remembered. Christ, he couldn't get rid of anything."
"Well, that settles that," Sandra says gleefully. "Minna's grown into a hopeless bitch. I always knew she would." 
"Any girl that pretty..."
"I said be quiet." Poor Minna. I can't say she was Manmy favorite. But I felt sorry for her all the same.
Amy starts to come out of the doorway, but Minna puts up a hand to stop her.
"Honey, stay there, okay?" Just hang on a second." Then she calls out, a little louder. "Trenton! You'got to come see this."
I no longer have a heart, so to say my heart speeds up in inaccurate. But there is inaccurate. But there is a quickening, a drawing together of whatever pieces of me remain. For years, I've longed to see Trenton. He was the most beautiful child, with feather-blond hair and eyes the electric blue of a summer sky...

By Lauren Oliver

"Mommy," Amy has been straining onto her tiptoes,
exploring the countertop with her fingers. Now she tugs
on the hem of Minna's shirt. "Is Grandpa here?"
Minna kneels so she is eye level with her daughter. "We
talked about that sweetpea. Remember?"
Amy shakes her head. "I want to say hi to Grandpa."
"Grandpa's gone, Amy," Trenton says. Minna shoots him
a murderous look. She places her hands on Amy's
She speaks in a lullaby voice. "Remember the chapter in
The Raven Heliotrope, where Princess Penelope gives up
her life to save the Order of the Innocents?"
"Oh God." Trenton rolls his eyes. "You're reading her
that crap?"
I have to tell you this is a weird, strange book.  Perhaps it is because I'm older and could very well be one of the ghosts in this house that hasn't been touched for decades. Many have lived here a lot longer than the family who has just come back to attend the memorial for the former husband. They had been separately living from him for many years. From what they can tell on their first entry into the house, nothing has been changed or updated since their mother had taken them away.

For Amy, the youngest, it is hard to understand that grandpa is dead. Her mother hasn't helped by reading her a novel which,
unexpectedly, was written by one of the ghosts, Alice, which was found many years ago in an obviously hidden place. Minna had kept the fairy tale and is now using it to help her daughter forget the truth.  And Amy has done just that and acts upon it before Rooms is finished!
Trenton, Minna, and Caroline are locked in
separate bathrooms. And not one of them is even
taking a piss.
Trenton's shaking out pills into his palm again
like maybe the number magically doubled
in the past two hours. Caroline dials and hangs up.
Dials and hangs up.
And Minna is in the bathroom with the
FedEx man.

Yes, Minna says. Yes, Yes.
The author indicated that the story is divided by rooms which it is, to some extent. However, the main division of the book is by POV and moves from person to person... I admit I don't like this choice for writing in novels, although I've read others. 

Especially in this book, I found it disruptive... The use of I normally represents first-person, right? But if each chapter is written in first person, yet the chapter POV changes each chapter--it creates unnecessary confusion in my opinion.  I often found myself stopping and going back to the beginning of the chapter just because the "I" had become unclear, perhaps by a break in reading or just because this extra effort to keep the POV in mind prevents the ability to sink into the book... 

For me, I found myself growing bored... disinterested...which is unusual for me...

Trenton was working up both his nerve and the number of pills he thought he would need to kill himself...

You see the lawyer had quickly come to
read the will, with the house going to Trenton, who quickly declared that was probably because he was the only one had continued to care for  him. Both of the children both got $500,000 while a woman nobody knew received $1M. Caroline his former wife received the contents of the house which wouldn't be peanuts since it had antiques and many other items that would sell high... But no matter how much they got, Caroline could not accept that a strange woman was getting $1M! She finally found the woman and started phone harassment...

 ...they're all just shut up in different rooms,
 trying to keep busy so they won't notice
 they're alone. Just like the Walkers in their
 big old house, everyone locked up behind
closed doors and only speaking to each
 other through the walls.

In addition to the two ghosts who had lived in this house the longest--even before the Walkers--a new ghost had come in, not knowing anything about what happened and apparently just had died. You know the two already living there have problems since they didn't "pass over..." Trenton had thought he could hear voices before the latest came, but afterwards, they even began to talk to each other and she was trying to get him to proceed with his suicide so she wouldn't be so lonely. But another girl--a runaway--had also met Trenton and had become friends.  

Trenton had been hurt in an accident quite some time ago; perhaps this ability to hear them had been a result of that. So he is pulled both to stay with one and to follow the other in death... while Minna is doing every man she can find and Caroline is drinking continuously between calling her supposed rival...

If you are the type who enjoys reading about the personal lives of individuals you might not know, you may enjoy the whole book. I found that only the last few chapters brought the book to life for me. This is the Debut for adult fiction by his author. The ghosts are not scary, the characters are depressing and the only thing I agree with is that it is full of "longing and secrets..."

Does a great ending  make up for other issues...I don't think so...But do read other reviews to decide...


Lauren Oliver is the author of the YA novel Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem, which have been translated into more than thirty languages and are New York Times and international bestselling novels. She is also the author of two novels for middle-grade readers, The Spindlers and Liesl & Po, which was a 2012 E. B. White Read-Aloud Award nominee. A graduate of the University of Chicago and NYU's MFA program, Lauren Oliver lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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