Recommendation: The plot is good, the characters are mostly good, but the audio book voice-overs are ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE. Jack’s voice is impressively shrill, the mother’s voice is largely deadened….except for when they sing. I swear, there was a moment when I thought flipping my car a dozen times off the side of the highway would be a suitable alternative to listening to these mother-son duets. Read this book, don’t listen to it.
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Now that I’m off gallivanting across the U.S. and spending obscene amounts of time in my car, I’ve started to embrace library audio books. And when I say embrace, I’m talking about burning through five of these bad boys in just 8 days or so. Although, to put myself down, if I were listening to Anna Karenina, I’d probably just be about 2/3 of the way in. But, I’m not doing that, because ugh.
The first audio book I tried to listen to was Ender’s Shadow, but the narration was oddly quiet and my initial attempts to figure things out were a giant flop. So instead I turned to Room and started listening. It took roughly two minutes for me to realize that I would have the exact opposite problem with this narrated novel. But, before I get going on that, synopsis.
Room is a pretty frightening concept all the way to the core. The narrator’s name is Jack, and at first it seems like he is an average 5-year-old kid. Maybe a little bit slow, but overall no big deal. Then you start to realize that Jack is stuck in a single room (hence the title) with his mother (whose name I forget because she’s always Mom to Jack). This small family has no way to escape and no way to communicate with the outside world. Room is their world. Stuff gets crazier from there.
So, like I mentioned, Jack is our narrator. That means that he is the one talking for 90% of the audio book. I have no idea if they got an actual child to voice Jack’s parts or if they just found some actor who had a ridiculous voice or what, but my gosh I could not handle it. So high pitched! It was terrible, terrible, terrible. Don’t listen to this audio book!
Now reading the physical book (or e-book), that’s something that I do recommend. The plot is solid all the way through, all though it might fall a little short of the promise that it holds early on. If I were to split this novel into thirds I would describe it as intriguing, then exciting, and then back to intriguing. Great for a lover of all different types of fiction (such as myself), but probably shouldn’t be a go-to for those of you who have to have thrills at all times to keep you going.
For the most part, the writing is good too. There were moments where I felt it was a little obvious that I was listening to an adult faking the voice of a child, but those came pretty far between, and it’s a hard task anyways, so I’m not going to harp on it. Most of all, this is a very unique concept. In an age where novels and films seem to sequels or rip-offs of older, established ideas (It’s Die Hard in Disneyland!), I’m always impressed when some completely new comes around. So, hats off Emma Donoghue. You did a great job. But, next time, just narrate the audio book yourself. Please.