Rooms by James Rubart: A Book Review

What to do with Rooms?

I had previously read Book of Days by the same author and thoroughly enjoyed that work.

Having finished Rooms, I can say I really enjoyed it. It had sort of an M. Night Shyamalan feel to it., but it took me a long time to read it. I would put it down and not have any burning desire to pick it up again. I kept going more out of a need to read books, especially those of a genre (Speculative Christian Fiction) that I hope to publish one day.

There were several times that I considered putting it down. There wasn’t any one event, or plot point that led me to this. It was more of an inertia. Mysterious circumstances were foreshadowed and hinted at, but they came slowly. Decisions and turning points seem to draw out.

At first, I thought the problem was that the stakes weren’t high enough. Rooms centers on the life and choices of one man. Regardless of the choices he makes, the world is going to go on from everyone else. I don’t need every book I read to be world shaking “Omigod, we’re all going do DIE!” stuff, but at the same time I think higher stakes would have kept me more engaged.

I think the romance angle got too much play. The romance category dominates Christian fiction, so I can certainly see the logic of including it. The more I read, the more I’m coming to agree with the sentiment that all stories are mysteries and all stories are romances.

It is pretty wild to think that this one man is so important that God will alter time, space and reality based upon his choices. I have no doubt God could do the things He does in Rooms, but we never really get an answer as to why Micah is so critical that God has to intervene on this level.

This was also another book where I saw who the ‘villain’ was well before it was officially revealed. I didn’t see the twist that came at the end with the ultimate identity of the villain. I knew he was the source of the trouble, even if I didn’t know fully who he was.

I feel there’s a subtle message in the book. Although if I detected it, it’s probably not all that subtle. Rubart strongly implies that a career as an artist/musician/writer is more valuable than a career as a software engineer. As a software engineer myself, I take exception. Micah could have served God well in either arena. Micah himself even tries to make that argument, but to no avail. I suppose the trappings of success were his larger problem.

The last quarter of the book is fantastic and well worth slogging through some of the slower parts in the middle. The mystery and suspense unfold well and the climax is memorable. I also liked how Rubart left a conflict still unresolved even after the climax and it gave the final pages a satisfying feel.

A note for my non-Christian readers. This book is written for a Christian audience. Characters openly discuss God, they pray, and there are multiple references to spiritual warfare.