by Lauren Oliver
Published on September 23, 2014 by Ecco
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Mystery
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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.
I went into this book not expecting much. I didn’t really like Oliver’s Before I Fall book so I wasn’t sure how I was going to like Rooms. I only picked it up because it was a signed first edition in the bargain section at my work and I thought for $4 that was a pretty great deal. But to my surprise, I really loved this one. It was super weird and I was thinking wtf through a lot of it, but I couldn’t put it down. The characters were so flawed that I wanted to see if she was going to give them what they deserved or if she was going to be nice and give them a semi happy ending.
Rooms is told in the perspective of many different characters who are inhabiting the house. You have the nonliving and the living telling their stories. Alice and Sandra are ghosts who have been “haunting” the house since they died, Alice in the 50’s (?) and Sandra in the 70s. A lot of their narratives are criticisms of Minna, Trenton, and Caroline, the Walkers who are staying in the house while they sort out Richard Walker’s funeral. But we also get some of their backstory. We are told small parts of each of their story while we try to figure out what is keeping them there. Why they can’t move on. I guess that’s the mystery part of the book…Minna, Trenton, and Caroline (along with a couple chapters from Amy, Minna’s 6 year old daughter) are the other narrators. This is where we get most of the story from. Where we see the *true* flawed characters.
Minna was probably one of the most despicable characters. She literally tried to have sex with every man who came through their house during the 4 or 5 days they were there. There was the lawyer, the urn man, a cop, and the FedEx man… It was insane honestly. And I got SO mad at her when she threw away the one good guy she could have had if only she would have waited. Ugh. And the fact that she couldn’t remember anything good her dad (Richard) had done was kinda messed up. It’s like she wanted to be fucked up. Caroline was another despicable character. All she did during her time there was drink and drink and drink and start stalking a woman who she thought Richard had had an affair with before they divorced. I think Trenton was the only semi normal one in the family. I mean he still had his issues, but I didn’t *despise* him. (now it might seem like I hated the book, but I just noticed all their flaws which I think was the point haha I still liked the book very much)
The book is separated into different parts where each part is a different room (hence the title lol) which I thought was pretty cool. Each of the ghosts had stories associated with each room and it was really interesting to learn the houses history. You also learn that the ghosts are just as flawed as the Walkers. Alice tried to be a dutiful housewife but she was unhappy. She lived through a war without her husband and she fell in love with someone else until that someone broke her heart. Sandra…Sandra fell for a married man and expected more from him. She grew up ostracized and only had one friend until she got into boys and booze. They both had problems. And then there is the third ghost who came in near the end. She’s another story. Another mystery.
This entire book was a mystery. There were points where it was predictable, but other parts that were not. The characters were easy to hate, but it was also easy to feel pity for them. Oliver weaved a great story, and I’m glad the writing style was different than her YA writing style. It made it a lot more enjoyable. I definitely recommend this book for the more mature audiences. Definitely not for those under 16 or 17.