Book Review: Rooms by Lauren Oliver

PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A ghost story TW: Suicide, body hatred/fat phobia, death, child loss, sexual content, s...

PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A ghost story

TW: Suicide, body hatred/fat phobia, death, child loss, sexual content, sexual assault

I was really intrigued by the premise of Rooms - a family drama, a haunting yet not scary ghost story. Unfortunately, it was riddled with a lot of problematic situations and descriptions. It ended up being not what I expected at all.

Following the death of their father, siblings Minna and Trenton arrive to their childhood home to put his affairs in order. Along for the ride is their mother Caroline and Minna's daughter Amy. As they set about clearing out the house, secrets begin to unfold. Little do they know, within the house also rests two ghosts - Alice and Sandra, who really do not get along and house some secrets of their own.

I found this book to be so incredibly problematic. It was literally just pages in when the descriptions of people focused so much on their weight and body shape. Now I feel you can definitely describe a character's size/shape without being condescending - for example, Dumplin' has a major focus on the main character's weight, but it was done in a way that made sense and was respectful. It was part of the actual plot. Rooms had such a focus on weight that literally had nothing to do with the story at all. And it was horrible - it made me so uncomfortable to read the characters' descriptions, and truthfully made me sad. It became one of the only things I could focus on, actually.

There was also a lot of talk of suicide that was so weirdly nonchalant, and (possible spoiler) was literally never wrapped up. I was wholly concerned for this particular character. In fact, there are a handful of really sensitive topics addressed in this book that are not handled well at all, which was super concerning. The characters are indeed flawed, which isn't actually a flaw of the book, but their situations are so chaotic and messy and to not delve further into those flaws and sensitive topics does a disservice to the characters themselves and the reader.

What I did like is that the book is organized into sections that are the actual rooms their set it. I thought that was done really well and was not only a great connection to the book's title, but also a fun way to journey through the story. I would like to see a murder mystery set up in that exact same way.

"Or maybe it's life that is the infection: a feverish dream, a hallucination of feelings. Death is purification, a cleansing, a cure." - Rooms, Lauren Oliver

Overall, I thought this book was messy and chaotic, while also being quite insensitive. I enjoyed the organization of the writing, but didn't enjoy the actual content. I would not recommend.

Goodreads rating: ★★★

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