I have read a number of Lauren Oliver books – the ones aimed at young adults – and thoroughly enjoyed them. When I discovered that she was releasing a literary novel with a touch of the paranormal for adults, I was intrigued. Rooms is in keeping with the eerie tone of the other novels I’ve read of hers, but Oliver has done a wonderful job of shifting to a decidedly adult voice.
When Richard Walker dies, his ex-wife and two children arrive at his house to claim their inheritance. But the family are not alone… two ghosts (Alice and Sandra) lurk in the rooms of the house, watching the family, remembering their own lives, and trying to figure out why they are still there.
The novel is written in third person, and it shifts from the ghosts to the family members, giving a full picture of the lives of all the characters involved. The POV of the living characters feels more detached than the ghosts’ making it seem more like the ghosts can see right into the heads of the living – like you are seeing all their actions through the ghosts’ eyes. It makes the novel slightly uncomfortable to read, making you want to glance over your shoulder while reading, even though the book is certainly not a scary one.
Like Oliver’s other books, Rooms is an engaging, character-driven read, and while it has a very literary feel, it doesn’t get bogged down in flowery vocabulary like some other literary books I’ve read. The characters are complex, and Oliver peels back their layers slowly throughout the novel, revealing how the past has shaped them, and turned them into what they are now.