“the room” by jonas karlsson
i was really intrigued by the premise of this book. a man discovers a secret room at his new government office job. he is the only one that can see the room. when he goes into the room his co-workers see him just standing by the wall, dazed and still. it was described as being similar to “office space” or “the office” with all the distinct idiosyncrasies of office life. lots of reviews referred to it as kafkaesque. i enjoyed the plot. it was so interesting. what was going to be the explanation of this mysterious room and the mysterious power that the main character had? i was disappointed in the similarities to “office space” and “the office.” it didn’t read as funny like that movie and that show. there were quirky characters and annoying policies, but that was the extent of it. a major difference when comparing this book to those shows was that in this book the main character is one of the annoying co-workers, not someone with which you sympathize for having to endure the insufferable office drones and dreary office life. bjorn is arrogant and egotistical. i must confess, i didn’t know what the term “kafkaesque” meant. i had to look it up. urban dictionary described it as referring to the style in which franz kafka wrote his books, describing “a nightmarish situation which most people can somehow relate to, although strongly surreal. with an ethereal, ‘evil’, omnipotent power floating just beyond the senses.” yes. that describes this book, so i guess i will call it kafkaesque. bjorn works for a government agency called ‘the authority.’ it’s never clear what kind of work is done there. bjorn is an unreliable narrator. you don’t know if he’s crazy or if he’s pulling an elaborate hoax or if what’s happening is actually happening.
karlsson’s style of writing was great. succinct and to the point. no superfluous, flowery language. it reads quick, as a result. over 100 pages that can be read in 2 hours. many chapters aren’t even a page long. since i didn’t particularly enjoy the ending (it kind of pissed me off, in fact), i’m glad i didn’t spend to much time and energy invested in it. nonetheless, i appreciated the sentence structure and the direct, yet not overly obvious, descriptive style.
having liked the overall aspect of this book, i couldn’t give it a high rating. the ending left me unsatisfied and irritated. the depiction of office life was lacking. bjorn is unlikable (supposed to be, i believe) and the others in the office are as equally unlikable. despite that, i did find myself rooting for bjorn. there were lots of ideas that could have been explored and were not. i guess that adds to the mysteriousness. it did continue to make me think. although i didn’t thoroughly enjoy this book, i will be thinking about it for a long time.
i received a copy of “the room” from blogging for books in exchange for this honest review.