Hi, all! I just finished Room by Emma Donoghue, and I was going to just review it… but my mind keeps distracting me because I keep comparing the book to the movie. So, I decided to just talk about that, instead of just a normal review!
Warning: This post will contain some spoilers!
To give you a bit of information: I liked the book. I rated it 4 stars on GoodReads (and actually wrote an entire review just to post on there before making this post and I accidentally pressed the back arrow and the review disappeared and I refuse to write it again). I decided that I 100% prefer it to the movie (which is most often the case for me). If I had to rate the movie on the same 5 star scale, I’d probably give it 2.5 stars.
Here’s the timeline: I found and bought this book at a secondhand store having never heard of it (or the movie) before. I brought it home and put it on top of one of my book stacks and forgot about it for a while. Fast forward about 5 months and I come across the movie on Netflix. I think, “Oh hey I’m pretty sure I have the book version… Let’s watch”, and so I do. Fast forward the run time of 1 hr and 58 minutes and I decide that I didn’t like it a whole lot. That was probably two or three months ago. I finally came around to reading the book and I was worried that I wouldn’t like it because I didn’t like the movie much.
I think one of the reasons I didn’t like the movie as much was because of how Ma was portrayed. She seems very distant from Jack, and even when she is playing with him, you can tell she is harboring a lot of bad feelings. Now this is kind of a “duh” thing, because hello she’s been locked in a shed for 7 years, and also who am I to tell a mother how to feel toward her child? But this portrayal of her in the movie caused me to believe that her connection with Jack was very strained. The book, however, gives a totally different feel. Most of the same things happen, but the atmosphere is so different. Ma clearly has an immense connection to Jack, and vice versa.
I also think that I like the “Outside” parts better in the book. In the movie, Ma is once again very distant from Jack, and goes into a spout of depression. In the book, the pair are inserted into the psychiatric hospital life for some time directly after being rescued. Jack is introduced to the “Outside” world a slow as possible considering that he is already outside of the shed. Ma does get depressed and Jack is taken to his grandmothers while his Ma gets better, but I think that the psychiatric stay would’ve been good to include in the movie. I also think that the ending of the book would’ve been the perfect ending for the movie. Everyone wants to see that these two survivors are going to land on their feet, even if it takes a little assistance. Why not show them getting their own apartment and starting life on their own terms, in freedom? I know the shed scene is important, but it could’ve easily followed with them coming home to their own apartment
The book certainly does take more getting used to, because you’re reading from a 5 year old’s point of view. Jack is extremely smart for his age, but he is still often confused and even annoying, but I think that’s just a 5 year old thing. In the movie, Jack narrates a bit, but for the most part you are watching things play out on the screen like normal. However, I found that after I got used to Jack’s narration in the book, I liked that better. I think reading a child’s thoughts in a situation like this one gives an entirely unique perspective. I saw some reviews on the book that said that Ma was never fully developed as a character, but I think we actually got to see more of the true her with the book. With the movie, we see her actions but through our own lenses, interpreting it however. In the book, we see everything Ma does and says through Jack’s eyes, with no room for a different interpretation (because we all know that with a 5 year old it’s their way or no way).
Most of these things are all small little nitpicks. But that’s how I am with books and movies. I notice all the little stuff and when I get the chance to see both versions of the same story, I can’t help but compare.