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Rooms
     

Rooms

3.9 15
by Lauren Oliver
 

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After a number of highly acclaimed New York Times bestsellers, including the Delirium trilogy and the standalone novels Before I Fall and Panic, Lauren Oliver returns with a spellbinding tale that confirms her place as one of our finest storytellers. Fueled by the same inspired feel for plot and character that drew readers to Oliver's earlier

Overview

After a number of highly acclaimed New York Times bestsellers, including the Delirium trilogy and the standalone novels Before I Fall and Panic, Lauren Oliver returns with a spellbinding tale that confirms her place as one of our finest storytellers. Fueled by the same inspired feel for plot and character that drew readers to Oliver's earlier works, Rooms is a mesmerizing and suspenseful story of guilt, love, and family secrets.

Estranged patriarch Richard Walker has died, leaving behind a country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His alienated family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Alice and Sandra, two long-dead and restless ghosts, linger within the house's claustrophobic walls, bound eternally to its physical structure. Jostling for space and memory, 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 lightbulb.

The living and dead are haunted by painful truths that 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.

Editorial Reviews

—Lev Grossman
“A chilling ghost story, and much, much more: Rooms is a magnificent gothic fugue on the themes of longing and buried secrets.”-Lev Grossman, bestselling author of The Magicians Trilogy
Library Journal
04/01/2014
Oliver has already triumphed in the YA arena with Before I Fall and the "Delirium" trilogy; her first novel for adults has already been called "a magnificent gothic fugue on the themes of longing and buried secrets" by Time critic Lev Grossman, author of "The Magicians" trilogy. After Richard Walker dies, his embittered ex-wife and two sullen children arrive at his overstuffed mansion to claim their inheritance. The house also comes with two ghosts who exchange observations that no one can hear—until a new ghost starts communing with Walker's son. With a 150,000-copy first printing.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-07-24
A smoky and realistic ghost story that subverts cliché. This first adult novel from Oliver (Panic, 2013, etc.), a best-selling writer for teens, has two standard horror tales at its foundation. First, a ghost story in which the ghosts can't leave the house but don't know why. Second, an estranged family story in which the ex-husband dies, leaving his alcoholic ex-wife, angry daughter and disaffected teen son to clean out their former home, not knowing that it's haunted. When the stories collide, they make a novel that's greater than the sum of its parts. The ghosts and people here have a surprising amount in common—on both sides of the veil, there is pain, regret and a lot of irritation with one's counterparts. That the book succeeds is due in large part to Oliver's characters. Though some are flat in internal monologue, most come to life when interacting with each other, as Oliver's ear for dialogue is finely tuned. She's able to take the tropes of the traditional ghost story and give them new energy by creating ghosts who are realistic but still terrifyingly paranormal. The story is well-served by Oliver's sense of drama, though she seems unable to resist ending each chapter with some sort of meaningful cliffhanger, like "I pretended not to notice his wedding ring the whole time." These touches aren't necessary, thanks to her careful unfolding of each character's secret, and weaken an otherwise compelling set of stories. Nevertheless, the book is a page-turner. This satisfying novel will be enjoyed by Oliver's fans and bring new ones to the fold.
Publishers Weekly
★ 06/02/2014
YA-bestseller Oliver’s (Before I Fall) assured adult debut skillfully weaves an innovative ghost story into a nuanced domestic drama. Upon Richard Walker’s death, his scattered family returns to clear out his house, which they hope to inherit. His ex-wife, Caroline, soothes bad marital memories with alcohol. His grown daughter, Minna, brings along her own six-year-old daughter, Amy, and a deep-seated resentment of her father, while his suicidal son, Trenton, struggles with teenage angst in the aftermath of a debilitating car accident. Trenton first senses the haunting presence of others in the home. The spirits of Alice and Sandra, two women who lived in the house at different times, now find themselves confined there together, squabbling with each other as they watch the family cope with Richard’s messy legacy. Soon a new female spirit close to Trenton’s age enters the house, and Alice conceives a dangerous plan to free herself of its prison. Oliver makes vivid use of both dead and living characters—all of whom are trapped in the past and striving toward a happier existence—to narrate her intricate, suspenseful story. The house’s breathing residents and ghosts alike find freedom, and the story culminates with an ending that arrives in dramatic and surprising ways. (Sept.)
New York Times
“…in this spectral soap opera there’s fun to be had as the plot’s many traps are set and then snapped shut.”
W Magazine
“A spirited new novel.”
Wall Street Journal
“Best-selling young adult novelist Lauren Oliver, author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy, enters new territory with Rooms, her first novel for adults—though spooky supernatural elements remain.”
Top 10 Books for September 2014 Washingtonian
“[A] fantastic ghost story…. Highly recommend.”
NPR
“ROOMS is, overall, a very successful work, and an impressive demonstration of Oliver’s craft.”
O magazine
“In Oliver’s moody and mysterious novel, a pair of ghosts inhabits the house of the recently deceased Richard Walker and serves as an invisible chorus to his family’s bleak memories and motivations.”
io9
“Oliver’s first adult novel is packed with complex, flawed characters, and she manages to turn the ghosts’ observations into a story about how people are haunted by memories. It’s like a Wes Anderson movie in book form, with ghosts.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Lauren Oliver leaves the young-adult realm with her latest novel, in which the living and dead intersect, and family secrets are unearthed when you least expect it.”
BookPage
“[Oliver’s] first novel for adults, Rooms, is a ghost story, but is completely unlike any we’ve read before… an elegant blend of real and supernatural worlds.”
Washington Independent Review of Books
“Oliver skillfully weaves her tales together clearly and cleanly… The real strength of this novel is Oliver’s knack for rendering charmingly flawed characters with real-life problems and complicated relationships… Oliver’s prose is crisp and clean; it gives the book much of its energy.”
New York Times Book Review
“Pleasantly spooky.”
Us Weekly
“A family faces its demons-such as sex addiction and alcoholism-when they gather after Dad’s death. (Adding stress: His house has ghosts!) A complex first adult novel from the Delirium writer.”
Dallas Morning News
“[Oliver] turns triumphantly to adult fiction with her latest, Rooms… The last 50 pages of Rooms are as devastatingly emotional as any book I’ve recently encountered… For a thriller, that’s as strong a recommendation as I can make.”
Chicago Now
“[A] sweet-but-sad-totally-engrossing-reading-at-stop-lights-in-the-car kind of tale… A fabulous read-good for a mature tween straight on up.”
—Lev Grossman
“A chilling ghost story, and much, much more: Rooms is a magnificent gothic fugue on the themes of longing and buried secrets.”-Lev Grossman, bestselling author of The Magicians Trilogy

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062223197
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/23/2014
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
877,619
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.05(d)

Meet the Author

Lauren Oliver is the author of the teen novels Before I Fall and Panic and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem, which have been translated into more than thirty languages and are New York Times and international bestselling novels. She is also the author of two novels for middle grade readers, The Spindlers and Liesl & Po, which was an E. B. White Read Aloud Award nominee. A graduate of the University of Chicago and NYU's MFA program, Lauren Oliver is also the cofounder of the boutique literary development company Paper Lantern Lit.

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Rooms: A Novel 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
AdamSilvera More than 1 year ago
When I heard ghosts would be (partially) narrating "Rooms" I thought I was in for in a tale of vengeance or some human/ghost buddy cop journey toward resolution so the ghost can move on to the afterlife. But being familiar with Lauren Oliver's previous novels I should've known she'd defy convention and breathe new life to ghost stories. The ghosts in the novel, Alice and Sandra, are former residents of the house they inhabit. Alice and Sandra died in the house much like the most recent resident, Richard Walker, who has just died when the book begins. Richard's family (ex-wife, teenage son, unforgiving daughter) show up to collect their inheritance and clean the home, which is the setting for the entire book. Oliver divides the book by room, and manages her entire cast seamlessly as they explore each section. The narrators are all so well-developed anyone could've been "the main character" which is an enviable feat. I'm personally partial to Alice and Sandra because their histories captivated me, but Trenton (the teenage son) was another favorite. The prose evokes humanity in each character and is simply damn beautiful. What really drives the novel along to its glowing finish is an unearthed family secret and the appearance of a new ghost (spoiler: not Richard Walker, it's much cooler than that). A good pick for fans of Neil Gaiman's "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" and readers who are ready to welcome a ghost story into their homes that will haunt them in a truly unique way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was intrigued because this book got pretty good reviews, but I thought it was weird. Definitely not worth the $13.59 it cost for the nook book. The story itself was interesting enough but the characters left me feeling like I needed a bath. I didn't hate it, but wouldn't recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I returned this book. It was not what I expected from the description. The writing style was poor. I would not recommend reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for your typical scary haunted house story, do not get this book. This story is so much more than that. It is beautiful story about the ghosts and people who dwell together and how some of us can so easily get lost and how everyone deserves to be heard. I would have given it five stars but the writing got a bit sloppy at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read
BooksVertigoandTea More than 1 year ago
Explaining exactly what I experienced with Rooms is going to be a challenge. It was not what I was expecting, but I am not sure my own expectations were very clear. First of all, this book is one big heaping pile of mess. I do not mean that in the sense that the story is improperly executed, because if anything, this is probably where Rooms shines the most for me. The execution is flawless! What I am telling you, is that this is a story surrounding several very dysfunctional and broken lives. The cast of characters are seriously suffering issues. There are no “feel good” moments to be had. Seek those out in another title. These pages are teeming with memories. Memories that are elegantly presented in a way that weaves an eerily magical and fantastic tale of lives entwined and the home they have built and become attached to. “Memory is as thick as mud. It rises up, it overwhelms. It sucks you down and freezes you where you stand. Thrash and kick and gnash your teeth. There’s no escaping it.” ― Lauren Oliver, Rooms The characters presented to us range from previous occupants Alice and Sandra who now take up residence within the walls of the home in Coral River and the most recent owner’s family that has come to tend to affairs after his passing. We have a bitter ex-wife Caroline, a lonely and desperate daughter and single mother Minna, and a socially withdrawn and depressed teenage son Trenton. Finding the ability to love this family is no easy task, as they arrive with some pretty intense baggage. Caroline is determined to drown her feelings in vodka, while Minna fills the void inside her with vanity and promiscuity. Trenton is on the verge of suicide and quickly learns he is not the only lost soul within the home. Seriously, they are a train wreck. It was their sorrow though that continually drew me to each of them. Through all of the chaos that is their lives, there is pain that can be seen. On that level I found my ability to connect and appreciate. Narration is provided as courtesy of the two deceased residents, Alice and Sandra. They occupy every space of the home and seem to have actually become a large part of the home over the years. Unable to escape the walls within or one another, the events that unfold as Richard Walker’s family prepares for his memorial service are seen through their eyes. There are an unrelenting presence. “I can’t stop thinking about what Caroline said to Minna about death. It isn’t an infection, she said. She might be right. Then again, we’ve nested in the walls like bacteria. We’ve taken over the house, its insulation and its plumbing – we’ve made it our own. Or maybe it’s life that’s the infection: a feverish dream, a hallucination of feelings. Death is purification, a cleaning, a cure.” ― Lauren Oliver, Rooms But this is not your average ghost story. This is a story about life, the choices we make, our abilities to cope and eventually let go. Sometimes it is not always a ghosts that haunts us, but our own past and regrets. Broken into 11 parts (each centered upon a room of the house) we are taken on a journey that dives deep into human relationships, the memories that are built and the objects that those memories can become attached to. The author presents a raw confrontation of life in the most hauntingly and beautiful manner. The exquisite and almost poetic writing flawlessly creates a melancholic tale that resonates long after the final page.
BooksCatsEtc More than 1 year ago
This is, hands down, one of the best and most original ghost stories I've ever read. It centers around the highly dysfunctional family of the recently deceased Richard Walker -- his alcoholic ex-wife, their nymphomaniac adult daughter, and their suicidal teenage son. Also in the living mix is the nympho daughter's little girl, who is still too young to have gotten twisted out of shape. They've gathered at Walker's house for a week to hold his memorial and get all the legalities taken care of before going back to their own home. Also in Walker's house are two ghosts, Alice and Sandra, previous residents who died there and are still inhabiting the place. When I use the word "inhabiting", I mean it literally. The ghosts are not separate from the house, their disembodied consciousnesses are using the house as a body, just as in life they used their human forms. Their physical senses and perceptions are now filtered thru the house they are both bound to -- here Alice, the older ghost, describes ghostliness and losing the sense of a human body: "Day is no longer day to us, and night no longer night. Hours are different shades of hot and warm, damp and dry. We no longer pay attention to the clocks. Why should we? Noon is the taste of sawdust, and the feel of a splinter under a nail. Morning is mud and crumbling caulk. Evening is the smell of cooked tomatoes and mildew. And night is shivering, and the feel of mice sniffing around our skin." "But as time went on, as I learned to see by touch, and hear by echo, as air does, and smell the ways walls do, by absorption, the old body receded further and further into the past, and so did my ability to affect things in the physical world." Their personalities, however, remain the same and their "color commentary" on the Walker family makes for some interesting reading. This is Sandra, the younger ghost, describing the teenage boy: "He stands up -- which is to say, he slurps his way off the chair and oozes out of the room." In case you're wondering, the recently late Richard is not around, much to Alice and Sandra's relief since neither of them liked the man. They both believe it's because he died in the hospital rather than at home. They turn out to be wrong about what binds the dead to the living world, and that is the meat of this story. "Rooms" is about the poisonous nature of secrets -- those we keep from others and from ourselves -- how they distort and deform things, causing the living to ruin their lives and the dead to be trapped in the place where their secrets originated. Only by letting go of the secrets and accepting the truth, however painful, can any of them move on. Aside from being an interesting take on the nature of ghosts, this story is beautifully written. I was very much surprised to find that Oliver's reputation is largely as a young adult fiction writer, as this book does not read as young adult to me but then I admit not reading much of that genre so what do I know? In any case, I strongly recommend this book, even for people who don't usually read ghost stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Favorite book by lauren oliver
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I loved this book and the way it is completely different from everything I have ever read
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
A death has occurred and the family has now returned to settle the estate. The estranged spouse and grown children have now returned to their childhood home to see what their father has left for them. Walking throughout the structure brings back memories, some pleasant and other not so pleasing but it is the other guests who cannot be seen who bring life to the story. As the individuals open the door, you can feel the hostility and the bitterness as they walk through the two-story home. There seems to be no sorrow for the loss of a life but more resentment for the task for which is now presented to them. I felt anger and frustrated, for this was their father/ex-husband and this was the feeling that they harbored towards him. What happened to cause such feelings and why did he left this mess, I had to know. As the tale progresses, each chapter is told by different individuals some living and some not. The ghosts tell another side to the story which the human characters do not reveal, it is their honesty and their reflecting back into the past that lets us see how all the individuals were really like and paints for us a true picture. Trenton, I felt for his boy, he really is searching for something or someone and I don’t think his family is the answer. When I think of ghosts, I think of séances in dark rooms with candles, holding hands and calling for those in the world beyond and they attempt this in the book. They try to talk to the ghosts and they get is the one part that I loved, the one part that I had been waiting for. I was hoping this book would be more chilling, more creepy but it more a story, a tale that told of people bringing their lives together once more under one roof with all their issues. Their problems then escalated, everyone pointing their fingers, within a house that is possessed with its own secrets.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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