Room is about a 5-year-old boy named Jack who has lived his entire life in an 11 x 11 foot room with his Ma. Ma (now 27 years old) was kidnapped seven years ago and forced to live in a room in Old Nick's shed as a sort of makeshift wife whom Old Nick only has to deal with when he wants to get some (*shudder* this book kind of ruined the word "some" for me - more on that later). The story is told entirely from Jack's perspective, which is a unique but sometimes frustrating change of pace from the usual adult or teenage one. Room is all Jack has ever known. His mother has taught him that things can either be "real" (those things that he can touch and see in Room) or they can be "TV" (things found outside of Room, like dogs, grass, and other children). Everything in Room is Jack's friend, from Rug to Bed to Ma to Plant. Old Nick (as Jack calls their captor) sometimes comes at 9 pm to rape Ma while Jack hides in Wardrobe. Old Nick is responsible for bringing their few groceries and "Sunday treat" and taking out their trash. Otherwise, Jack and Ma are on their own and pass the time with structured and predictable routines that keep Jack happy until he starts to grow up and begin to ask questions, including the insufferable and unending "why?" of small folks.
Meanwhile, Ma is becoming more and more agitated and depressed. Sick of living like a caged animal and wanting more for her son, she finally comes up with a plan to get them out into the world and away from Old Nick. But she has to depend on the whims of an easily distracted and frightened Jack, who's scared to death of everything he's never known before. He struggles to comprehend that everything on the TV could actually be "real." I think Donoghue did an excellent job using a five-year-old's perspective and focusing mainly on the things that a small child would, like Jack's books, toys, and activities. But this also means that we are mostly left in the dark as far as how Old Nick and Ma are thinking and feeling (aside from the emotions that she lets slip and show on her face like when she has a toothache or doesn't get out of bed all day). That's when the pov becomes frustrating because after a while I got really sick of being stuck inside a 5-year-old's mind. Everything had to be drilled into Jack for him to understand how the outside world works and I started to get a little impatient when he kept having such an aversion to going outside and letting Ma finally enjoy herself a little. I know, I know, he's just a super sheltered and psychologically messed up child. But still.
The thing that really weirded me out and bothered me was the whole "some" thing. When Jack kept saying that he wanted "some," I was soon horrified to figure out that he meant get some breast milk from Ma. I'm not really familiar with how that business works, but I'm pretty sure it should be ending by the time the kid is 1 or 2, so this seemed strange. I looked around online and found a quote from Donoghue explaining that this was a way to further strengthen the mother-child bond...crap, of course now I can't find the quote. Anway, I don't really understand that logic since it doesn't seem like there's much more you can do to stay close with your child when you've been locked up in a room with him for five years, so in my mind I just kept telling myself that Ma did it to provide Jack with much-needed nutrients and vitamins. It just would've been nice if Jack didn't talk about it so much and how creamy and good it was. Ew, it reminds me of that scene in Game of Thrones where Robin Arryn is latched onto Lysa's boob. Good god, this review has taken a turn for the worst. Boobies and breast milk everywhere.
I think this part might be a bit of a spoiler so I'll try to hide it. [spoilers removed] I wonder if I would've felt the same way had I been reading the book rather than hearing that annoying Jack voice actor. He was just grating on my nerves and I couldn't take it anymore. Overall, I liked the first half of the book but was highly disappointed in the second half. It just seemed like it could've been left off or changed or condensed down into a much smaller book.