Lauren Oliver

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.

Rating: 3.5/5

From the initial page, Rooms was extremely interesting. It took me a couple of chapters to fully grasp the multiple narrations and what direction the novel was headed, but after that I raced through this text, wanting answers, needing resolution. I've not read anything like Rooms, a novel that provides the reader with stories and narrative perspectives from both the living and the dead, all with tremendous secrets to maintain. What drew me to this text originally was Lauren Oliver's name although the premise and the story's direction is what retained my attention and intrigue.

My two favourite aspects of this novel were the secrets (there are quite a few), followed by the great characterization. I felt like I knew these characters even though they weren't always honest nor were they necessarily forthcoming with information. Their personalities radiated through the pages though, and I easily found myself knowing and witnessing who these individuals were firsthand--or who they had been. It was fascinating to get the back story of these characters in its entirely and to have secrets poking through as the novel progressed, painting a broader, more vibrant picture. I also enjoyed the age range of the characters which made the narration very interesting as each age group had very different worries, dilemmas, and pasts.

Secrets were plentiful, dispersed throughout intervals of the novel. It's always exciting to read a novel that is withholding information, especially if the narration is unreliable and varies, depending on character viewpoint. I didn't really see very much coming, partly because I'd never read anything similar before and did not know what to expect. Also, Lauren Oliver has written quite a handful of books now, all which are seemingly quite different. I was happy to just be along for this ride.

Ultimately, I feel this novel is a lot more about character growth and realization than about ghosts and suspense and mystery. Sure, these are prevalent elements but the heart of this novel, in my opinion, is contained within the characters themselves. They're all looking for answers too, maybe even more so than the reader.

Overall, a very enjoyable debut adult novel from Lauren Oliver.


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