ROOMS by Lauren Oliver

ROOMS

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A smoky and realistic ghost story that subverts cliché.

This first adult novel from Oliver (Panic, 2013, etc.), a best-selling writer for teens, has two standard horror tales at its foundation. First, a ghost story in which the ghosts can’t leave the house but don’t know why. Second, an estranged family story in which the ex-husband dies, leaving his alcoholic ex-wife, angry daughter and disaffected teen son to clean out their former home, not knowing that it's haunted. When the stories collide, they make a novel that's greater than the sum of its parts. The ghosts and people here have a surprising amount in common—on both sides of the veil, there is pain, regret and a lot of irritation with one’s counterparts. That the book succeeds is due in large part to Oliver’s characters. Though some are flat in internal monologue, most come to life when interacting with each other, as Oliver’s ear for dialogue is finely tuned. She's able to take the tropes of the traditional ghost story and give them new energy by creating ghosts who are realistic but still terrifyingly paranormal. The story is well-served by Oliver’s sense of drama, though she seems unable to resist ending each chapter with some sort of meaningful cliffhanger, like “I pretended not to notice his wedding ring the whole time.” These touches aren’t necessary, thanks to her careful unfolding of each character’s secret, and weaken an otherwise compelling set of stories. Nevertheless, the book is a page-turner.

This satisfying novel will be enjoyed by Oliver’s fans and bring new ones to the fold.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-06-222319-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2014




9 NOVELS SO SCARY YOU’LL BE TRICKED AND TREATED:

ChildrenTHE CURE FOR DREAMING by Cat Winters
by Cat Winters
ChildrenTHE FALL by Bethany Griffin
by Bethany Griffin
Kirkus Interview
Lauren Oliver
author of ROOMS
September 29, 2014

Lauren Oliver is known for her best-selling young adult novels (including the Delirium trilogy) but her new novel Rooms is her first written for adults. We ask her about making the transition, finding new readers, and writing a ghost story. Rooms actually has two story lines that nicely collide: First, a ghost story in which the ghosts can’t leave the house but don’t know why. Second, an estranged family story in which the ex-husband dies, leaving his alcoholic ex-wife, angry daughter and disaffected teen son to clean out their former home, not knowing that it's haunted. We go ghost-hunting with Lauren Oliver this week at Kirkus TV. View video >

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

IndieTHE CAVANAUGH HOUSE by Elizabeth Meyette
by Elizabeth Meyette
FictionYOU WILL KNOW ME by Megan Abbott
by Megan Abbott
FictionHELP FOR THE HAUNTED by John Searles
by John Searles