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Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,309 reviews120k followers
June 16, 2022
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 is the infection: a feverish dream, a hallucination of feelings. Death is purification, a cleansing, a cure.
If death ever takes a holiday I expect he might vacation in Coral River, the upstate New York locale where Richard Walker lives…well…lived. Richard’s recent passing is what has brought the Walker family back together for a spell. A funeral, a burial, a will-reading, and a chance to go over some of the events, the challenges, the hopes and disappointments, the failings of their lives.

Ex-wife Caroline tries to lubricate the process with a steady ingestion of alcohol. Their children are not faring much better. Twenty-something single-mother Minna has a taste for spirits as well. Failure and desperation to fill the emptiness inside will do that. Even the introduction of cosmetic surgery and various prescription meds seem unable to fill that void. Trenton is Richard and Caroline’s teenage son, and he has issues. He barely survived a car crash that left him feeling even more of an outsider than he already was. Trenton sees things that the rest of us cannot, actual holes in the fabric of reality. He wonders if he might be better off dead. Of course some of the household residents already are.

Sandra, whose gray matter once decorated a wall, and Alice, an abused wife who has also contributed to the body count of the house, have made the place their own, or is it the other way round? These golden girls are not necessarily precious. In addition to remembering their lives and observing the Walkers, they squabble and tell lies. And while they may not be able to exactly tote luggage or dig ditches, it is possible for them to effect small acts in the living world, pushing this, bursting that. Having some unresolved issues keeps them from being able to open a doorway to a less geographically restricted existence. Reports of missing children also figure in, from decades past and right now. There are plenty of secrets to be delved into here. Such as just how did Sandra and Alice die? What happened to the missing girls? Who is that new girl ghost who just showed up? And who is Minna banging now?

This is not a scary ghost story sort of tale. No spectres coming to take over anyone’s body. More Topper than The Evil Dead, although not a comedy. A bit of spookery goes on, but there are two elements here that seem dominant, mystery and sadness. In a way, I was reminded of Agatha Christie, as Oliver presents readers with a sequence of mysteries to be solved, offering clues here and there, hints, red herrings, the usual tools of that trade. While the ghosts may not be scary, their stories and the stories of the living as well are intensely haunting. Choices, mistakes, regrets, the impact of the past echoes in the present, for both the dead and the living.

Oliver organizes her story into eleven parts, representing diverse rooms in the house. The tales told connect with each room in turn. Rooms features an ensemble cast. Oliver’s characters are well-drawn and very human. It is hard not to sympathize with Alice or relate to Trenton. And it is possible to understand why some of the others behave the way they do, given what we learn of their histories.

There is a lot here about identity, being oneself or wanting to be someone, or something else, to have some other life, and coping with other people’s masks.
It was unfair that people could pretend to be one thing when they were really something else. That they would get you on their side and then do nothing but fail, and fail, and fail again. People should come with warnings, like cigarette packs: involvement would kill you over time.
There is also a lot about being trapped whether as a child in an abusive household, a woman in an abusive marriage, a teen in what seems a dead-end existence, or a ghost in an empty house. There are some moments of humor, although none of the LOL variety, but dollops of charm do seep through the walls from time to time.

In short, Rooms is a fun, engaging and fast read. There is real content in the very believable characters’ attempts to make sense of their lives. While this spirited entry into the adult novel category is not the sort of ghost tale that will cause anyone to leave on the lights at night, there is considerable material here that is indeed quite haunting.

Review first posted – 6/13/14

Publication date - 9/23/2014

This review has been cross-posted on my site, Coot’s Reviews. Stop by and say Hi!

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Lauren Oliver, is the pen name adopted by Laura Schechter, a young 30-something author who has already seen considerable success with her youth-oriented novels, most notably the YA Delirium trilogy. Rooms was her first novel for adults. Oliver’s parents are both literature professors. Dad is Harold Schechter, who has written many books on true-crime and American popular culture. Oliver lives in Brooklyn.

Here are links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages, and to her blog and Tumblr pages as well.

If that is not enough you can also check her out on YouTube
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
October 2, 2014
A few years back I read Oliver's debut novel - Before I Fall - and I was a mess of emotions. I thought the book was beautiful, moving and a completely realistic portrait of a teen girl's mind and journey to self-awareness. Since then, I have awaited every new release by Lauren Oliver, just hoping to be taken back to the places where that first book took me.

Delirium jumped on the dystopian bandwagon and failed to convince me with its whole "love is a disease" concept. Liesl & Po was a cute kid's book but too young and a little pointless for my tastes. And the more recent addition - Panic - was yet another with a dystopian "feel", this time experimenting with a different kind of slow-moving plot that bored me so much I never made it to the end. And now with Rooms I think it may be time for me to put Oliver's books behind me. Maybe that first one was a fluke, maybe she's just branched off in a completely different direction... but either way I did not like this book. Not the writing. Not the characters.

I'm intrigued by the idea - I don't even need to use past tense, I still think it was an interesting premise. The story alternates between different perspectives, some from the living who have come to clean out Richard Walker's house after he has died and some from the ghosts that haunt said house. The idea of weaving together a story built out of what the living tell us and what these ghosts have actually witnessed over the years is quite fascinating. I just don't think it ever lived up to its potential.

It's an odd book that never grows into its weirdness, which is only made worse by the author's use of deliberately miserable, depressing and sometimes downright gross descriptions. I don't think the many different POVs in a relatively small novel help you to warm to the characters, but worst of all is the language. It tries so hard to be depressing (which I guess is supposed to make it more meaningful). The descriptions of every single character are deliberately negative. The narrative itself is unattractive. Not a dark, gritty, interesting kind of ugly. Just a plain, boring, acne-ridden kind.

“Take Minna. Alice is always going on about how beautiful she is. Yeah, if you like that look—a great big pair of fake tits screwed on like a lid, and eyes that always look like they’re trying to see through your pants to how much money you’ve got in your wallet.”

“What can I say about Trenton? A sad sprout of a human being, halfway between a boy and a broccoli. Then there’s Caroline, a big sodden biscuit, soaked morning through night.”

Breasts are particularly vile creatures in this novel, mentioned often and always described in a bad way; for example, as “mosquito bites”. It's like every single thing that is described must be attached to a repulsive metaphor.

Another thing, which I mentioned recently in a review of a YA book, is how it bugs me when metaphors and similes really do not make sense. It's obviously an attempt to be quirky and "deep", but I don't understand what "a big sodden biscuit" says about someone's personality. And this one too:

“His motions are erratic, like a scarecrow that has just come to life and has to compensate for a spine full of stuffing.”

I mean... what??? Such a strange analogy.

This is a book that kind of depends on a love of the writing and characters to hook you in. If that doesn't work for you, there's not much else to pull you into the story. Which is why I found it so dull and easy to put down.

I think this is where me and Lauren Oliver part ways.

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Profile Image for Delee.
243 reviews1,133 followers
October 12, 2017
One of the scariest things to think of- is that someone is always watching you. Watching you in your most personal moments. Ghosts. Ghosts in your house. Ghosts invading your privacy. Your private moments as entertainment for the living is bad enough...but how about for the dead? That IS scary!!! It makes you want to know who lived there before you? Who can be peeking behind the curtain?? It's not always the living... The dead are right there too- watching....and judging...and waiting....waiting for their moment to be set free...

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Richard Walker has died....and all of his family gathers around in his house. The house he died in- the house OTHERS have died in.

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...and those others, are watching his family- watching them closely. Alice and Sandra have spent years watching the house- and the people in it- because that is all they can do that they are dead.

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They died within these walls- one in particular is itching to find an excuse to be able to flee. She is waiting for the inhabitants to make one wrong move to help her do that. She is watching...patiently.

ROOMS very spooooky- very different from your normal, average, every day ghostly read. Expect the unexpected.
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,631 reviews34k followers
September 9, 2014
If you've read Liesl & Po, you know that a ghost story by Lauren Oliver is not going to be your typical horror fare. This is a slow, secretive book that intertwines the lives of the dead and the living, and yet its tone is, in turns, contemplative, chilling, and in the end, nearly unbearably sad. I've no doubt that some YA readers will struggle with this unusual story, and some will be frustrated with not having everything tied up neatly in a bow by the end. But if you appreciate well-crafted adult fiction, and if you enjoy the author's writing, Lauren Oliver's first adult novel is definitely worth your time.

I do wish there weren't so many names starting with the same consonant, though. Martin, Minna,'s a lot to keep track of, especially in a relatively short book with so many characters and so many puzzles. And in the hands of another author, this might be a 3.5 because I would have liked some parts explored more in depth, but the writing is so good and the story made me think so much that I have to tip it up.

Perhaps a bit more of a review to come.
Profile Image for Kat (Lost in Neverland).
445 reviews711 followers
June 30, 2014


Richard Walker has passed away. His house, currently inhabited by two bickering ghosts, now belongs to his estranged family; alcoholic wife Caroline, sex-addict daughter Minna, and depressed, suicidal teenage son, Trenton.
Now that they're back in this home, old memories best forgotten begin to emerge, and we find out just what made these ghosts stay and how they can leave in peace.

This book had so much potential. An old house in which ghosts feel with its walls and furniture, long dead secrets, and creepy mystery solving. It sounds good, right?
Unfortunately, Oliver just couldn't pull it off.

The main issue I think I had with it was that the writing is unpleasant. Sure, there are pretty, profound portions. But it's like digging through globs of filthy garbage at the chance of finding a sliver of gold.

Every person is described in unappealing, grotesque ways. Everyone's lives suck, their personalities suck, their physical appearance suck, basically, everyone sucks.


This is the point, I'm guessing. The people's lives (and afterlives) suck, and that's how it's supposed to be.
But it makes for a very unpleasant reading experience.

Trust me, I've read books where the characters lives have been bad. I've read books where the character's personalities are awful, they're purposely unlikeable, with shitty lives to match. And yet they're still written in a way I can read it without cringing at every weirdly-described sentence.

If I had a dollar for every time breasts were described in this novel, I think it'd make up for reading it. 'Mosquito bites', 'budding flowers', and 'proud and round' were just a few of the wonderfully detailed descriptions of literally every female character's breasts, even the fucking 13 year old girl.


Perhaps it just wasn't for me. I rarely read adult fiction, and when I do, they aren't nearly as depressing and disturbing as this was to read. You certainly have to be in a particular mood for it. I wasn't, apparently.

Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,388 reviews1,468 followers
May 17, 2018
The patriarch of a family has recently died. The home he leaves behind is haunted and his family comes to divide up the remains of his earthly possessions.

Secrets are about to be revealed that concern both the living and the dead.

Rooms is part-mystery and part-family drama. My favorite characters were the ghosts and their interactions with each other.

"We expand into all five bedrooms. We hover in the light coming through the windows, with the dust; we spin, dizzy in the silence. We slide across empty dining room chairs, skate across the well-polished table, rub ourselves against the oriental carpets, curl up in the impressions of old footprints." pg 12, ebook.

Though they are stuck together in the same house, the two ghosts couldn't be more different. It makes for some amusing dialogue.

"I've never been one to sugarcoat the truth, and at least I've still got a sense of humor, even if I'm all splinters and dust everywhere else. That's another thing that drives me crazy about Alice: no sense of humor at all." pg 34, ebook.

The living characters of this story have some serious problems.

There's Minna, a nymphomaniac with a young daughter. Her brother, Trenton, a perpetually insecure teen with suicidal tendencies. And their mother, Caroline, an aging alcoholic.

To make matters worse, Trenton's starting to hear disembodied voices in the house.

"In the quiet, Trenton heard it again. A voice. Not quite a voice, though. More like a shape: a solidity and pattern to the normal creakings and stirrings of the house. It was the way he'd felt as a kid listening to the wind through the trees, thinking he could make sense out of it." pg 52, ebook.

As if they didn't have enough problems.

"That's what a broken heart looks like," she said, and stood up. "Like a haunting." pg 64, ebook.

Strangely enough, I recently read another book with a ghost's point of view. The Last To See Me by M. Dressler is about a ghost trying to stay alive and solve the mystery of her previous life, before the person hunting her could discover it and use it to destroy her.

I compared The Last To See Me to this book and, I confess, I liked Dressler's book more. Dressler has fewer characters, but she gives those few more depth.

I felt like Lauren Oliver, though she did develop her characters, struggled a bit to fit all of the different story lines together. I did like the ending of Rooms.

Recommended for readers who like their mystery with a touch of the paranormal. Age appropriate for mature teens and up because of the sexual content, hints of abuse and suicide themes.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,357 followers
October 8, 2014
I didn't love this, but it's a very unique - I'd even say peculiar - story with some candid personalities and buried secrets. And of course, Lauren's writing makes the storyline so intriguing that it compels you to read even if it's not blowing your mind. This review will be short, because the whole of this (also short) book is one haunting secret after another being unearthed into a story full of tragedy.

Brought together in this house by the death and upcoming burial of a husband and father, this story encircles the lives of half a dozen people who make up our narrators of this novel. While we learn the ins and outs of what makes these people who they are, we also learn that, ultimately, this is the ghosts' tale. Even though this involves ghosts and a haunted house, it's far from being a horror novel. It's a family drama full of secrets and blame, of death and broken lives. It's undoubtedly very well written, constructed with many layers and strings that tie everything together.

With so many POVs, though, comes along a difficulty to fully connect with these characters. I very much enjoyed both Alice and Susan - the resident ghosts; their bickering is a lot of fun, and you just know they've got a dark secret that's keeping them there. For some reason, though, I kept confusing their backstories and forgetting which history belonged to which ghost. Maybe it's my lack of attention, or maybe the voices were not distinct enough; I think it's a little bit of both. Aside from those two, and maybe Trenton with his suicidal thoughts, I found myself getting bored with the other characters. In turn, I never grew emotionally attached to this story, which does have a lot of heartbreak and sadness meant to hit you right in the heart. As everyone's lives are painted with a dark brush, crafting them into somber, self-loathing characters, it's natural to want to keep at arm's length like I did. And in doing so, I was left wanting more from it, never being completely enthralled until maybe the last 5 chapters or so when the ghosts finally face their demons.

The story that Lauren paints is not joyful and happy, it gets sadder and sadder with every thread that unravels. Until finally, you're left with a broken heart and a disturbing thought that life, sometimes, just truly sucks. The writing itself is not the issue at all - it's beautifully written with a poetic sort of feel - I simply did not fall into the emotional depths that this tale was obviously striving for.

"Everything comes up in the end"

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,255 reviews2,297 followers
June 27, 2019
People, Caroline thought, were like houses. They could open their doors. You could walk through their rooms and touch the objects hidden in their corners. But something - the structure, the wiring, the invisible mechanism that kept the whole thing standing - remained invisible, suggested only by the fact of its existing at all.
When Richard Walker died, he left behind a lifetime of accumulated wealth, estranged and horribly embittered alcoholic wife Caroline, nymphomaniac daughter Minna who is unable to form any real emotional bond with anyone, and suicidal teenage son Trenton who is like Holden Caulfield on steroids. He also left behind a house inhabited by two ghosts, the empathetic Alice and the cynical Sandra.

As the family comes to claim their inheritance, their already troubled lives begin to unravel further. Trenton, recovering from an injury which almost left him dead, moves nearer and nearer to suicide. Minna goes on a desperate orgy of copulation, coupling with all and sundry including the undertaker and FedEx courier. And Caroline spirals down into an alcohol-induced fugue, drinking her way to destruction. The only person who seems to be happy is Amy, Minna's daughter, who is living in childhood's fantasy land.

Trenton can hear the ghosts, especially a newcomer who refuses to reveal her identity to Alice and Sandra. He is urged to cross over to the other side by her; however, he is pulled back into life by Katie, a mysterious will-o-the-wisp of a girl. As the days go by, Alice becomes more and more powerful as she keeps on attempting to set the house on fire which, according to her, will result in her release. Everything comes to a head during Walker's memorial service, with all the various story-lines converging and tangling up and there are enough secrets revealed to fill a dozen Agatha Christie novels.


"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Said Leo Tolstoy. This novel could be cited as a book-length example of this statement: only thing is, unhappy would the understatement of the century here. Almost every family in this novel, including the ones of the ghosts as well as various minor characters who come into contact with the Walkers, is almost disastrously broken. Extramarital affairs, heartbreak, domestic violence, murder, suicide - you name it, the story has it.

However, for all it utter bleakness, the author manages to hold our interest - mainly because of the mastery of the narrative. The story proceeds in multiple POVs: those of the dead Alice and Sandra interspersed with those of Caroline, Trenton, Minna and Amy. The ghosts talk in first person, while the live protagonists are portrayed in third person - a narrative device which draws readers into the spirit world, making it nearer to them than the temporal world.

The ghosts are inextricably tied up with the house. Built by Ed, Alice's husband in the first half of the twentieth century, it has passed from her to Sandra to Richard Walker. The rooms are privy to so many things - love, lust, anger, betrayal, disease and death. The story flows linearly in the Walker's timeline, while in that of Alice and Sandra, it jumps back and forth - as it moves from room to room of the building. The house is as much a protagonist as any other in the story: perhaps more so.


Why has Lauren Oliver created this convoluted structure to tell a story, which, at its heart, is rather simple? For an answer to this question, I would point to the passage quoted at the beginning of the review. The house, with its rooms, is the metaphor around which the narrative hangs - without it, it would fall flat. Each human being, full of multiple rooms in his/ her psyche, some of which are never opened even by the owner, could be seen as a hoary old building through which generations have passed. What good literature does is to open the doors and let the reader in - and discover the wonders (and horrors!) for him/ herself.

For all its darkness, this is a book worth reading.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,779 reviews14.2k followers
October 1, 2014
3.5 First offering in adult fiction for this YA author and it is a very unusual ghost story. Two adult ghosts are stuck in a house, they don't remember why, only bits and pieces of their death. It is a house that Caroline, Mina and Trenton along with Mina's young daughter are returning to after the death of their estranged father, and in the case of Caroline, her husband. All seem to have negative memories of Richard but they are there to do their duty, hear the will read, clean out the house and attend Richard's memorial service.

When I first started reading this it reminded me somewhat of the tone of Beetlejuice. Entertaining and amusing, a not very scary ghost story, but as you read on you realize there is much more to this book. Yet, in its presentation is still remained fun to read. All these people have secrets, bear grudges, remember things incorrectly and are unable to move forward in life or death. The back stories of the living and the dead are revealed in bits and pieces, a new younger ghost arrives at the house and stirs things up even more. A comedy of errors with some serious undertones ensues.

A good and fun read, well done for this first adult effort by Oliver. A ghost story for those who don't like the scary and the macabre.
Profile Image for Ellis.
1,216 reviews137 followers
December 31, 2014
If this was divided into two, smaller books, I'd prefer to read the one about Sandra & Alice & how they are haunting the Walker house because they're tethered to the earth with regret, because that book is engrossing & depressing as all hell. But the book about the real people; sexually compulsive Minna, mopey teenage Trenton, and their uber-alcoholic mother Caroline, just falls flat in comparison.
Profile Image for Katie.
2 reviews1 follower
February 13, 2015
I received a free ARC of this book through Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

When I first read the synopsis of Rooms, it sort of reminded me of Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game – a rich man has died, leaving a collection of misfits and misanthropes to squabble over his fortune. Spoiler Alert: Rooms is nothing like The Westing Game.

My only previous experience with Lauren Oliver was her Delirium trilogy, which, for the most part, I found moderately enjoyable. Rooms is billed as her debut adult novel. As I see it, here was her thought process in outlining the book:
1. Let’s make a list of themes that show up in adult books:
a. Alcoholism
b. Depression
c. Infidelity
d. Nymphomania
e. All of the Above

2. Okay, now I’m going to take each of the main 5 characters and assign them a vice from my adult theme list. My characters are going to be terribly flawed, unlikeable human beings. I’ll be the next Gillian Flynn – it’ll be great!

Problem: these horrifically flawed human beings kind of just end up being boring. The intended themes of the book are pretty clear (see list above), even to a reader who was exceptionally bad at picking this sort of thing out in high school English classes. It’s one thing to tell me that one character is (once again) reaching for the liquor cabinet or another is (repeatedly) trying to seduce any man who enters the house, but it takes something else to expand these upon these themes and make them more than just window dressing.

For the majority of the novel, four of the characters (two living, two dead) take turns narrating the chapters. Unfortunately, all four of these narrators sound more or less indistinguishable throughout the course of the book. Perhaps I just wasn’t emotionally invested enough in the story to pick up on their subtle differences in tone and disposition. Perhaps the characters were all just bland and undeveloped beyond the listing of their single, fatal character flaw. 300 pages later, I don’t feel that any of these characters have developed much beyond their initial, static descriptions.

In the final chapters, Oliver takes a stab at throwing out plot twists on top of plot twists, à la Dan Brown. The intentions were good here, but the execution was poor. Not only was one of these twists hugely predictable, but I can’t say that any of the others blew my mind (see previous comment about my lack of emotional investment). Even if I had been on tenterhooks the entire book, I think I would have been left more disappointed than amazed at this point. All the loose ends are tied up, but it’s a bizarre, unsatisfying sense of resolution.

So… if I seem to have hated the book so much, why is it getting two stars?

It’s an easy read – the ARC runs 305 pages with large text, margins, and line spacing; at least 20 of these pages serve as dividers between sections of the book. Reading Rooms doesn’t require much brain power to follow the plot and it’s fairly easy to keep track of characters due to their singularly exaggerated flaws. On some level, it must have engaged me given that I managed to read the whole thing in one sitting. At best, I might call this book “cute” – the premise itself isn’t actually that bad, I just don’t agree with the manner in which it was executed. I suspect that those who are huge Lauren Oliver fans or are looking for a light, easy read will enjoy it more than I did.

Final Rating: 2.5/5
Profile Image for Melissa Chung.
904 reviews326 followers
November 2, 2018
My first review on this author. According to Lauren Oliver's website "Rooms" is the only adult book she has written. When I first picked up this book, I assumed it was a horror read. It is actually a paranormal, contemporary, family-drama. I listened to this book on audio with a full cast. They did an awesome job. The book is pretty slow, hardly any action. Giving it 4 stars.

"Rooms" is about a house in Coral River, in a small town, somewhere in the north east. I always assume Maine. Not sure if that is supposed to be the state. In this house, lives two ghosts. They are not your typical "boo" ghosts, in wispy fog forms or fairy orbs. These two ghosts have been absorbed into their surroundings. They are the walls, furniture, pipes and floors. They see everything. Feel everything. In the first couple of chapters, we meet these ghosts, former residents of the house. There is Alice a stay at home mom in a loveless marriage who lived in the house during the second world war. Then there is Sandra "Sandy", who lived in the house in the Ninety's. She never married. She was a loner and an alcoholic.

In present day, the house is owned by Richard Walker and eccentric collector. He is the father of two. He was also in a loveless marriage. A theme to this story. Loveless, lonely. His wife, Caroline has been his "Ex" for the last ten years. Caroline hated her husband and Richard...well he didn't understand the resentment. His daughter resented him too, although he didn't understand why. Richard dies in the first chapter, before we meet Caroline and the kids, Minna and Trenton. The Walker survivors, have come to Coral River to sell the things that can be sold. To empty and organize Richards possessions. During the week they are there, each family member in turn, come to terms with their past. With their loss. They realize that they are all hurting in some way. They also realize that the bitterness they have harbored over the years are misplaced. That maybe they weren't seeing clearly, that their memories of the good times have been forgotten.

Alice and Sandra are here in the rooms of the house, watching the family drama unfold. While we are learning the Walker's past stories, we also learn about the ghosts. Through their memories, we find out they too were in pain. Pain doesn't go away once you are dead, the memories linger. "But the problem with death was that you could never get tired of it and go home."

I found this story to be both engaging and sad. Everyone has a story. No one knows the deepest secrets of our hearts. Sometimes we don't even know. In the case of Alice and Sandra, they had a long period of time to think about those secrets. Not the secrets you keep from others, but the secrets you keep from yourself. Even in death those secrets can eat away at you.

"If only bodies were like rooms, and people could pass in and out of them at will."
"A single spark was all it took."
"Everything comes out in the end."

These three quotes sum up the story for me. I did enjoy this read. I wish I would have went in with a different expectation. However the story is written beautifully and I do recommend reading it.
Profile Image for alittlelifeofmel.
888 reviews346 followers
September 2, 2017
I feel like if you had given this same premise to another author, I would have loved this book. Absolutely loved it.
It's not that she did a terrible job, it's that she was trying so hard to get out of the Young Adult world that she threw herself into Adult Fic really sloppy.
All of her characters are not likeable at all. Caroline is an annoying alcoholic, Mina the sex addict, Trenton the horny whiny suicidal teen, Amy the 5 year old who really didn't need a POV, Alice who is whiny and annoying, and Sandra who is the only likeable character because she calls everyone, including herself, out on their shit.
This book was so unnecessarily sexual. Various sex scenes, every chapter had one mention of sex or masturbation. It felt like Lauren was trying so hard to make a stance in the Adult Fic world that she thought this would get her point across. It was unnecessary to the plot. Maybe for Mina given her nymphomania, but otherwise really useless.
I liked the idea of the story, I really did, but it was boring, slow, dull, annoying and unlikeable.
It was also unnecessarily depressing. Like I get that the plot itself was depressing but the tone was too depressing.
Therefore I am adding this as a DNF FOR NOW but I will probably finish the book at some point.
It's just not capturing my attention enough right now, but I mean it's the only audiobook I have right now so I might finish it.
Profile Image for Taryn.
1,209 reviews189 followers
October 6, 2014
I didn't plan to read this book—I had seen so many reviews that ranged from lukewarm to flat-out negative that I wasn't sure it would be worth my time. But when I saw that I could get a copy from the library with no wait (something that rarely happens in the first month after a book's release, at least one written by an author as popular as Lauren Oliver), it seemed a shame not to give it a try. If nothing else, it would be something to pass the time while I'm waiting deep down on the hold lists for some other highly-touted fall titles.

In reading Rooms, it was driven home to me once again why negative reviews aren't something I want to invest my time in writing. I learned that some of the complaints I had heard were valid, some less so, but I still really enjoyed reading this book. And I almost let the naysayers rob me of the experience altogether! Other people's opinions can only take us so far—ultimately you are the best judge of your own reading tastes. There's no substitute for taking a big bite of a book yourself.

And I think Rooms is definitely worth sampling. It's about a house—an old house, with lots of history in its walls and floors and crevices—and a family struggling to hold itself together. The house's owner, Richard Walker, has died, and his family has convened there in order to go through his belongings and settle his affairs. His ex-wife Caroline is barely functioning, cracking open the vodka well before noon. Their daughter Minna is trying fruitlessly to give meaning to her late twenties by engaging in a string of empty trysts. Her brother Trenton, at sixteen, is friendless and depressed, a laughingstock at school and virtually ignored by his mother.

Then there are the ghosts. Richard Walker's living family members aren't the only ones rattling around the big house—Alice and Sandra, both former tenants, are bound tightly to the structure through their own tragic histories. They observe the Walkers with trepidation (Alice) and gleeful judgment (Sandra), but eventually they'll both have to confront the grief and guilt that have tethered them to the house in death.

This book is certainly dark. It's hard to imagine that one house can hold so much tragedy and misfortune. Nearly every character is lost, hopelessly mired in her own flaws. But Oliver is a skilled writer, and I don't mind reading about sad, screwed-up people if they're crafted with such sensitivity and clarity. Atmospheric and haunting, Rooms is best read on an overcast day, with the bare branches of a tree tapping mournfully against the window and the wind howling a dirge.

More book recommendations by me at
Profile Image for Ivonne Rovira.
1,941 reviews202 followers
May 15, 2015
Sandra Wilkinson, born in the 1950s, and Alice Luddell, born at the turn of the 20th century — both long dead — occupy an old manor in Upstate New York. Once ghosts, they’ve so seeped into the house — or, conversely, the house has so percolated into them — that they have now transcended into something more.

Patriarch Richard Walker, always overly exacting and promiscuous, has died in the house in Coral River, N.Y., leading his entire family — his dipsomaniacal ex-wife Caroline, his snobby, near-nymphomaniac daughter Minna, his sulking teenage son Trenton, and Minna’s 6-year-old daughter Amy — to descend on the house for the first time in years. Once a blond charmer of a toddler, Trenton, 12 years Minna’s junior, has become a taciturn, self-pitying Phillips Andover junior channeling The Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield — castigating his family for lacking “integrity” (read: being phonies). The poor boy is too deluded to even recognize himself as a parody of every intelligent, too-serious, privileged teen since Pip in Great Expectations or George Arthur in Tom Brown's School Days.

Needless to say, the return of the Walkers to their homestead will bring about a change to that dysfunctional family — and for the spectral beings, too — in several delicious twists that I won’t spoil. Let’s just say that Rooms isn’t just not your average ghost story, but it’s not your average tale in any way. From the alternating narration to the perspicacious takes on human nature to the poignant moments and the funny ones, author Lauren Oliver weaves a phenomenal story.

Amazon’s blurb comparing Rooms to The Lovely Bones and The Ocean at the End of the Lane does a disservice to all three books, which share nothing other than their containing certain paranormal elements and a dream-like quality. (The blurb also compares Rooms to Her Fearful Symmetry, which I haven’t read.) Don’t go into Rooms with any preconceptions — except that of expecting a unique tale uniquely told.

Special thanks to Allie for picking this excellent book for our May Buddy Read.
Profile Image for Mauoijenn.
1,127 reviews114 followers
December 17, 2015
CREEP FACTOR ... raised high in this book. Okay, I live in the south. South Georgia where plantations are still thriving (god, I want one) and the creepy scary ghost tales are still talked about to this day. With this said, I have lived on a documented haunted plantation grounds and really do believe my present house is haunted. So, I totally got the vibe this book was aiming for. Great book.
Profile Image for Maya Panika.
Author 1 book70 followers
October 13, 2014
A haunted house. A ghost story told in seven voices: three of them dead, four still alive.

Richard Walker has recently died. His estranged family gather at what was once their home, to organise a funeral and hear his will read. There's Caroline, the mother, Richard's ex-wife, who still secretly loves her husband and has spent the years since their divorce, salving her grief with epic quantities of Vodka. Her twenty-eight year old daughter Minna is almost as damaged: a single mother to six year old Amy, she deadens her misery and disappointment with prescription pills and endless sex; a seamless string of zipless encounters. Minna's sixteen year old brother Trenton is but barely recovered from a near-fatal car crash. Trenton is a shy and terrified psychological mess who cannot help but wonder if he'd be happier if he hadn't survived the accident that came so close to killing him.
Three ghosts also live in the Walker house; squabbling and fighting, no love lost between them. There's Alice, her life marred by her abusive husband, married lover, dead baby. And Sandra, another alcoholic; her short life a car crash from miserable beginning to violent end with a bullet in the head and her brains - mythically: everyone in town has a version of the story - spattered across the walls. And now a new ghost has joined their ranks; too new, too traumatised to know who she was and why she's here. And now the police are out looking for a missing girl...

Rooms is not really a ghost story: the ghosts don't scare, they're not malevolent and only one of the family can sense them at all. This story is more about the living than the dead: about failure and sadness and regret. Memories are the real ghosts haunting this family. There's no real horror; it's a fast and easy read. Gothic-lite.

And four stars, not five. I can't quite bring myself to give it five and trying to put my finger on why. I enjoyed Rooms hugely; the writing is beyond good, but there's something not quite right with the way the story flows. Seven voices is a lot to juggle; Lauren Oliver comes close to pulling it off, but it doesn't quite work. Each time a new character steps forward to tell the tale, the story stops; you need to take a breath, fit yourself into a new skin. Sometimes the change of gear works really well, but often it does not. It's not a make or break point, and for the most part, this novel is really good. The characters feel real, the story is fascinating, but the writing is the best of it, the writing is sublime -

...The house falls into quiet. It is ours again, mine and Sandra's. Its corners are elbows, its stairways our skeleton pieces, splinters of bone and spine.
In the quietness, we drift. We reclaim the spaces that Richard colonized. We must regrow into ourselves - clumsily, the way that a body, after a long illness, still moves in fits and shivers.
We expand into all five bedrooms. We hover in the light coming through the windows, with the dust; we spin dizzily in the silence. We slide across empty dining room chairs, skate across the well-polished table, rub ourselves against the oriental carpets, curl up in the impressions of old footprints..
It is both a relief and a loss to have our body returned to us, intact. We have, once again, successfully expelled the Other.
We are free. We are alone...

- That's just page 4 and it just gets better and better. The writing is superb throughout, and the story is riveting too.
Profile Image for Noah Nichols.
Author 3 books112 followers
August 24, 2017
Squarely in the middle on this one. The ghosts who inhabit the home—along with their unique POVs and observations about the greedy family living among them—did make the book better throughout, but I didn't much care for the actual people and their secretive squabbles. However, there were some intriguing areas (and dialogue branches) that kept my attention. The ending is also nicely done. Still, I'm leaning on mostly being indifferent with this, hence why I'm relegating my rating to the tried-and-true three. Sorry; it just didn't affect me!
Profile Image for Mollie Reads.
43 reviews512 followers
October 31, 2017
Major TW for suicide, suicide ideation, self-harm, and sexual abuse.

I really enjoyed this book, in both concept and writing style. Lauren Oliver depicts ghosts in such an interesting, unique way, and I was genuinely blown away by the quality of her writing. Seriously, I highlighted so many amazing quotes. She's come a long way since Delirium (which I also enjoyed).

I will say, there were parts of the books I didn't love, and I wanted to see more character growth. The characters in this book reminded me a LOT of The Nest, and how I felt about The Nest was pretty similar to how I felt about this book. But because of the narration (the ghosts/walls of the house narrated a lot of the story), I enjoyed this one more than The Nest. Obviously they're really different books, but I'm talking about the writing style and characterization, not so much plot. There were multiple POVs, and some of the POVs were "meh." I kind of wish the entire book was told through Alice's POV (one of the ghosts who had the most poetic voice). But then, I guess we would have been too distanced from the characters as readers.

Because we saw, clearly, how the characters were deeply flawed and damaged, there are several scenes that are just hard to read. Pretty graphic sex scenes and harmful thought patterns, but it was such an honest depiction of what real people go through and family dysfunction. Honestly, I felt like it was more of a sad book than a thriller or creepy book, but the idea that the ghosts were in the walls, talking to each other and looking down on the characters was SO well done and interesting.
Profile Image for Randee.
849 reviews32 followers
May 13, 2015
I had never heard of this book or author, but a member of one of my book clubs chose this as the monthly read. I love expanding my reading horizons in this way; it's like being given a present. This is a very unusual ghost story told from several viewpoints of both the living and dead. It's a quick, easy read and being a ghost sounds a great deal like being alive in this story. I had to chuckle a bit to myself that even ghosts irritate one another here just like your friends and family do when you are alive.
Profile Image for Kirstin.
119 reviews
July 14, 2015
I like books about dysfunctional families, they make me feel normal :). This one is told from the point of view of the ghosts who haunt the rooms of the family home. It was lighter than I thought it would be but enjoyable all the same. 3.5 stars
6,282 reviews67 followers
March 24, 2019
Bien meilleure que son classement de 3,3/5 le laisse croire. Ce livre est un mixe de genre qui, à mon avis, explique peut-être pourquoi il déplaît à certaines personnes. Plusieurs le considère comme du YA (je ne suis pas d'accord), la prémisse fait pensé à de l'horreur (je me suis fait prendre) et on se retrouve avec un drame familial et ceux qui aiment généralement ce genre de drame, seront peut-être rebutés par l'aspect surnaturel (très léger en passant). Ce drame offre une histoire riche, originalement menée, où les pièces de la maison sont les parties du livre, les fantômes des personnages à part entière et où les vies et les drames de chacun s'entrecroisent, où les blessures du passée façonnent l'avenir. La construction m'a agréablement fait penser à la série télé The Haunting of Hill House par moment, avec le côté famille dysfonctionnelle, maison hantée, drame individuel, etc. Oui, certains stéréotypes sont présents et malgré des sujets riches comme la mort, le suicide, l'amour, le couple, la résilience, la famille, les dépendances et plus, on reste en surface et on ne va pas aussi profondément dans la psyché humaine que je l'aurais souhaité. Le livre aurait pu être plus abouti et plus dense, mais il présente une lecture agréable, facile qui touche des sujets intéressants et offre une trame narrative riche, quoi qu'assez prévisible il faut bien l'avouez. Sans être parfaite, ce fut une lecture qui fut au-delà de mes attentes et que j'ai bien aimée! À découvrir!
Profile Image for Steph.
262 reviews264 followers
April 14, 2015
Edit 11/12/14: I am over my guilt. I have now moved on to the acceptance stage. This is definitely a two star read.


I feel a deep feeling of guilt giving a Lauren Oliver book a three star rating, which is perhaps why I ducked out of reading the rest of Panic and just haven't finished it "yet".

​When starting this book I was very ​excited to read a work where she is able to discuss sex with more detail when not being constrained by the YA label of her other books. In this she delivered with the storyline of Minna who uses sex as a outlet to hide from her loneliness. ​
Unfortunately, I felt this book meandered quite a bit, with snippets that felt out of place in the overall puzzle of the book and felt like they were just thrown in for added length. I can easily imagine this story without Katie who is the cardboard cutout version of a manic pixie dream girl (I know this term is overused, but I can think of no other way to describe her right now) and whose storyline is given no genuine resolution. Katie is just another character hitting us over the head with the overall theme of the book: That we are all lonely.​ That is only one example.

What I disliked most about this book was the ending. It was so, so painfully ​contrived. Nothing about the way these characters were connected was organic in the least. What they all had in common was loneliness and the rooms of a house but the plot forced their connections to be more. The relationships in the book were like a puzzle where all of the pieces fit just perfectly but the picture you wind up with as an end result is a blob of neutral tone pieces that form no shape at all. Sure, they fit together, but should they? Do they amount to anything?​

Why three stars then? Well, while there weren't a lot of wow moments for me this time around, Lauren Oliver's writing is enjoyable. Peaceful to me, like an old friend, easy to read, easy to enjoy no matter what else is going on around you. Her take on ghosts is the best of all. What if we become beings without bodies when we die? Attached to the places and people we left behind? Our bodies in tune with a house and confined to become one with it? No form of our own? It's actually rather spooky and writing about it is giving me the creeps. It was both a beautiful approach and a tragic approach and Oliver nails the delivery of the ghostly side of this story just right.

All in all the way to sum this book up is good but forgettable. A hotel room without a view.
Profile Image for Brooke.
755 reviews355 followers
June 5, 2015
okay...this was a mess!

Apparently this is Lauren Oliver's only ADULT novel and it had way more immature dialogue than her YA books. I really liked Oliver's "Delirium trilogy" and I thought "Liesl & Po" was really cute! "Rooms" had so many things wrong with it. The characters were uninteresting except for Alice, (she's the reason for the 2 stars instead of 1). So yeah I just didn't enjoy this...
23 reviews20 followers
April 7, 2012
When I saw this I think my heart stopped. I LOVE LAUREN OLIVER AND CANT WAIT FOR THIS BOOK.
Profile Image for Ylenia.
1,073 reviews387 followers
August 1, 2016
Buddy read with my favorite mermaid in the whole world.

*1.5 stars*

Dear Lauren Oliver,
you don't have to put out books if you're not inspired.
The Delirium trilogy was one of my favorite series back in the days where dystopian YA books were the shit. I skipped Panic because of the mixed reviews and I skipped Vanishing Girls because no one was talking about it - which can be good or can be bad. It's bad if you're the author or the publishing company, anyway.
Listen: you don't have to publish a book every year. Clearly this is not going well, it's not a good idea.
Rooms could have been a good book but you didn't spend more time thinking about the plot and making everything work properly.

This is the second book I've buddy read with the aforementioned friend of mine so far, are we going to read something decent someday?
Rooms was part of the books I got in early 2015 and never ended up reading, in this case manly because the average rating was (and is) pretty low. I know I shouldn't really care about ratings but many of the reviews were pointing out things I normally don't enjoy in books so I was kinda justified.
Fortunately my friend made the same mistake I did and got this book. It was time for us to tackle it.

Rooms didn't have a plot, so it's difficult for me to explain to you what this book was really about.
The Walkers were the true definition of a dysfunctional family; they found each other in their old country house after patriarch Richard died. The old house is full of memories and, also, ghosts.
Like I said, the book didn't really have a plot. I thought that, with the excuse of inheritance, something would have happened involving ghosts but I didn't go like that.
The pace was off, pretty irregular and boring, especially because Oliver decided to concentrate all the action at the end, leaving the beginning tedious as fuck.
It wasn't even real action but more of a failed attempt to connect everything together. For most of the time I was tossed between different point of views.

Since I mentioned POVs, let's talk about them.
It's still a mystery to me why the author decided to use the first-person point of view for the ghosts and the third for the still-living part of the characters.
Being this a very problematic family I would have enjoyed the book more if I had the chance of knowing the characters a little bit more, and I think third-person narration is a lot more formal and cold.
Everyone in the family had to deal with their own problems: Caroline was an alcoholic, Trenton wanted to commit suicide to finally feel something, Minna had a negative relationship with sex and love and generally was looking for happiness in the wrong places.

I thought sex was overused in this book. I lost track of how many times someone thought about sex, or had sex or described someone else by how attractive he or she was and not objectively.
The worst-written character was probably Minna, starting with her sex and relationships problem - which the author decided not to solve in any way (actually, no one's problem got solved, in the end).
I hated that Oliver decided to use the card of "I'm not friend with other girls" with Minna. It's pretty offensive and people should stop saying it.

The idea of an haunted house wasn't bad but it was executed poorly. I thought it would be more similar to American Horror Story: Murder House but nope.
The reason why there were ghosts in the house in the first place was weak.

Overall, this book made me feel filthy and dirty. It wasn't scary, it was just really bad.
It was a disaster from start to finish and when I finally did finish it I sent a video of me throwing it at the wall to summarize my feelings to my friend, because I didn't want to spend any more words on it.
Hopefully next time we'll chose a better book.
Profile Image for Jessica (Goldenfurpro).
893 reviews253 followers
November 4, 2015
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

I love all of Lauren Oliver's other books, so I decided to pick up this book, despite my irrational fear of adult books. To be honest, this book isn't all that different that YA books. I read somewhere that the difference between YA and Adult books is just who it is written for and, yeah, this book was written for adults, but it's not all that different from YA. My point is that if you're worried about the fact that Lauren Oliver wrote an adult book and you usually stick to YA, don't worry.

Anyway, I am a bit disappointed in this book. Like I said, I love Lauren Oliver's books, so I was expecting my socks to be fully knocked on my feet. Sorry to say, my socks stayed firmly on my feet. I'm not even certain why I couldn't connect with this book, I just couldn't. Lauren Oliver is a wonderful writer and her beautiful writing is still evident in this book. My problem my dwell in the fact that this is more of a character-driven book. It's very slow-paced and has more of a literary feel. Do I like these kinds of books from time to time? Yeah, but they're not usually my thing.

If you're looking for a ghost story, turn around and search somewhere else. This is not a ghost story. The entire story focuses on multiple different characters, some living, some dead. All of these characters are incredibly real, by that I mean they all have flaws and they all have their own problems. And yeah, some of these characters aren't exactly likable. This book slowly introduces you to the characters and their lives all until we learn the secrets they've been hiding and the secrets that may have made them the way they are now. I think that's basically what Rooms is supposed to be about, the secrets we keep, and it is done very beautifully. It's just not my kind of book.

The writing is very beautiful and well-done, but it's also very slow-paced and character-driven. If you enjoy those kind of books, yes, pick this up. I did actually like this book, it just didn't connect to me as much as I hoped.

I want to read this.
It sounds interesting and Lauren Oliver is amazing but...
I have a fear of adult books.
I don't know why, but I'm always afraid of reading adult books.
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