Review: Rooms by Lauren Oliver

roomsBy the same author of the “Delirium” YA trilogy (of which I am 2/3 of the way through), I saw this one in the 7-day shelf at the library and grabbed it. It took me longer than a week to read, so I owe the library some coin, but what evs.

There’s a lot going on in these Rooms. A lot of complexity. There’s people who are alive, and people who are dead, whose ghostly presences are stuck in the house for various reasons. Richard Walker has passed away (his ghost, interestingly enough, isn’t around) and his estranged family comes back to the house to make funeral arrangements and decide what to do with the house itself. His ex-wife Caroline, daughter Minna (with her young daughter, Amy), and son Trenton arrive, each living separate lives due to various fallings out. The two resident ghosts of the home, Alice and Sandra, observe the proceedings through their own clouded lenses, and slip into bits of their backstory as the novel moves along.

Got all that?

We quickly see that this family has its vices and secrets, and all of these come to a head while back in the house. For Caroline, it’s alcohol, as she drinks heavily in order to deal with her ex husband’s death and subsequent revelation that he left a great sum of money to a mistress. Minna craves male attention and uses sex to try to make herself feel worthy as a human. And Trenton, still a teen, is planning to commit suicide at the house, after being teased relentlessly at school.

The ghosts, too, are each keeping secrets. Sandra’s involves how she died. Alice’s involves her affair with a man named Thomas. It seems as if these secrets are keeping them tied to the earth, and to the house.

The lines become blurred when Trenton seems to be able to hear the ghosts, and the storylines start to come together.

I thought this was well crafted in spite of being a ghost book. This is Oliver’s first “adult” novel, and I’d say she hit the mark. She relied upon her knowledge of teens to be able to carry the Trenton storyline (as well as Minna, as she is still on the younger side). And she build a world where living and dead are layered together, lives intertwining. Overall, a satisfying read, albeit a little dark.

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