Author: Lauren Oliver
Published: September 23, 2014 by Ecco Books (Harper Collins)
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Synopsis: The New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy makes her brilliant adult debut with this mesmerizing story in the tradition of The Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane—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.
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 received an advance copy of this book free from the publisher at BEA for an honest view in return. This fact has not changed my opinion ***
I'm so glad I waited to read Rooms until the very end of October. This was the perfect book to read this time of year. The writing, the complex and mysterious characters, the intricate and exciting plot all screamed fall to me.
This is the first book I have read by Lauren Oliver and I was extremely impressed by her writing style. It flowed with grace and beauty. Sometimes when I'm reading I'll find quotes that strike me as interesting or deep and I'll want to write them down on a post-it note to remember later. It has been awhile since I've done that, but Rooms had me writing down more than a few quotes. I wouldn't have predicted that a book about ghosts would have had such a deep commentary about life, but it did. The book will keep you awake at night but not in the traditional scary story sense. It will keep you awake thinking and reflecting in a way that you didn't quite anticipate. But more than that, Lauren's prose perfectly established the mood of this story. It was atmospheric and mysterious. It was spooky but not scary. Throughout the book, I felt this sense of uncertainty and wonder, all established by Lauren's style of writing.
However, it may be a little too intricate. The book is told from a lot of different perspectives and from characters both living and dead. And while I understand it was a big part of the story, it was a little confusing. At the beginning of the book I would have said that this is more character-driven than plot-driven. It was more about learning the characters to establish the basis for the story. We need to be able to slowly learn from them their story and history, to see what they are holding back and what they don't want us to know. At least a few of them were unreliable narrators and I wasn't sure who to believe and that wasn't necessarily a good thing at times. I would also forget who was talking, I would mix characters and back stories up, and I would wonder why we were hearing from that character at that time. But then when the plot started to kick into high gear then it started to all make more sense. In the end it all ended up tying together and making sense.
Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy! If you are looking for an atmospheric novel that takes you on the mysterious exploration of an old house then I definitely suggest this book. It will appeal to fans of mysteries and thrillers more than fans of horror despite the supernatural elements. And while this is an adult book with sexual content and swearing it does have some crossover appeal. If Rooms isn't already on your list, add it!