I’m a little sad to write this review because I feel like all my reviews of Lauren Oliver lately tell you how much I love the author, but that this book did not win me over. Okay, maybe that was just Vanishing Girls, but this is still an author I expect to adore everything from, and when it comes to her first adult fiction, Rooms, it just didn’t check all those boxes for me.
Rooms by Lauren Oliver is a ghost story set in the house of the wealthy Richard Walker, whose estranged ex-wife, daughter, and teenage son, Trenton, all show up after his death. But they aren’t alone. Alice and Sandra still haunt the house, observing the Walkers and reminiscing about their lives. But when another ghost appears, and comes in contact with Trenton, it will have consequences for everyone inhabiting the house…living and dead.
Despite the ghostly premise, Rooms is really a story about family drama and secrets, more than it is paranormal. I listened to it as an audiobook, which was probably not the best format for the book, as it made the many points-of-view even more difficult to keep track of it. It also made Oliver’s writing, which I love so much, seem slightly forced at times.
I also think reading Rooms aloud helped emphasize how bleak the story was, which was clearly the atmosphere Oliver was going for, but for a book that is really based on the characters, having all the characters be bleak and hopeless can be a bit tiresome. It also probably contributed to the story feeling quite slow-paced. Yes, it was an audiobook but it still took me about a month to read, which is exceptionally long for an Oliver book.
Rooms is really a character-driven book, which has several mystery twists at the end that seem out of place and a bit contrived for an otherwise slow story. Still, there were definitely creepy, quiet moments that I enjoyed so if you don’t mind a book about hopeless characters, it may be worth picking up Oliver’s first adult offering.
Now I’ll do that thing I always do in Lauren Oliver reviews where I recommend her debut novel, Before I Fall. If you don’t read Rooms, you should definitely still read that.