Rooms by Lauren Oliver
I’ve enjoyed Lauren Oliver’s YA novels, Before I Fall, Panic, and the Delirium trilogy. This is her first adult novel, and it’s at least as good as her YA work. It’s about a haunted house, told partly from the perspectives of its two ghosts. The way the ghosts’ experience is described is interesting and original: it’s as if the house has become their body, so that leaky pipes feel like wetting their pants, etc. The book is also about the dysfunctional family that lives in the house, and the way they’re reacting to the death of the father. My favorite character was probably Trenton, a suicidally depressed teenager who’s nevertheless pretty endearing. A couple of the characters are pretty dark and edgy, like promiscuous Minna and Sandra, the ghost. There are a few mysteries, like the ghosts’ backstories, and I liked the way they were wrapped up in the end: fitting, without being overly neat and tidy.
When I met Oliver at the Southern Festival of Books, she talked about how the structure of this novel made it challenging to write. The book is organized by the rooms of the house, so that the action of the novel moves from room to room and doesn’t return to rooms that have already been visited. When I read it, this organization seemed much less obtrusive and convoluted than I thought it would be. Oliver was able to make it seem natural and logical, which impressed me. I’m definitely going to be following her and picking up her next book, Vanishing Girls, out tomorrow!