Rooms by Lauren Oliver
Published by: Ecco
Published on: September 23, 2014
Page Count: 320
My Reading Format: ARC sent to me by the author’s Marketing Assistant in order to participate in her book tour as well as the audiobook I purchased from Audible.com using a monthly credit.
Audiobook Published by: Harper Audio
Narrators: Orlagh Cassidy, Barbara Caruso, Elizabeth Evans, Noah Galvin, and Cynthia Darlow
Audiobook Length: 9 hours 20
Summary from the Publisher:
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.
Big old haunted houses are some of my favorite literary landscapes. In Lauren Oliver’s first foray into adult fiction, she writes about just such a house. This house, owned by the now deceased Richard Walker, is the home of two departed spirits and a family equally haunted by both their past and unhappiness. The spirits, Alice and Sandra, observe all that Richard Walker’s family experiences as well as each what each other has to say. They are the house’s spiritual odd couple, irritated by each other and always holding back their own pain. That, coupled with the troubles of the Walker family invited me right into the house along with them.
The story progresses through the house with each section, giving the reader a sense of the house’s history along with unfolding the current day events as they happened. In some ways moving to a new section was like being a child opening the next door on an Advent calendar. You were excited to see what was inside. Each room always held something new and interesting.
For whatever reason, I’ve been having difficulty finding time to read in print. Then, when I do, my attention span is just not there. So, even though I was sent an ARC, I picked up the audiobook copy of Rooms to ensure I’d finish it on time for my tour date. It ended up being the best of both worlds. The casting was so complementary to the story. Alice’s narrator had a warm, protective voice that suited her so well. Sandra, narrated by Orlagh Cassidy, was pitch perfect. This was my first experience with Cassidy’s narration and Sandra’s sarcasm and cynicism always brought a smile to my face. Trenton’s narrator, Noah Galvin, also made an impression on me. As the audiobook progressed, I got to know each of the characters through their memories, actions, and state of mind. Later, as the Walker’s funeral was taking place, I couldn’t wait until I was next in the car to keep reading it. I picked up the ARC and each narrator’s voice was firmly in my head. Normally I’m an all print/audiobooks kind of reader, but I loved how having the two formats allowed me to make the most of each available reading minute.
Rooms was a great read. There was just the right amount of humor inside to give you hope for the depressed and broken Walker family. It took me a little longer to get in tune with Alice and Sandra, but once I did, I found it easy to care for them as well. As secrets were revealed to others and in some cases simply acknowledged inside the characters themselves, a healing spread across the rooms and its inhabitants that was lovely. The truth that tugged at my heart the most came when I least expected it. If I owned an old home, I would have been tempted to walk through each room and urge anyone who might still be there to open up and set themselves free. I certainly won’t think about old homes in quite the same way ago.
Lauren Oliver’s Bio
Lauren Oliver is the author of the New York Times bestselling YA novels Before I Fall, Panic, and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem. Her books have been translated into thirty languages. She is also the author of two novels for middle-grade readers, The Spindlers and Liesl & Po, which was a 2012 E. B. White Read-Aloud Award nominee. Lauren’s first adult novel, Rooms, was published in September 2014. A graduate of the University of Chicago and NYU’s MFA program, Lauren Oliver is also the co-founder of the boutique literary development company Paper Lantern Lit. You can visit her online at www.laurenoliverbooks.com.
Since I read most of Rooms in audio, I’d love to pass along my gently read copy to a lucky reader. To enter, tell me about your favorite fictional house. I could use some more recommendations. I’ll notify the winner on October 7th. Good luck!