Friday, 7 November 2014

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

Title: Roomies
Author: Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Published by: Hodder and Stoughton
Publication date: 2nd January 2014
Pages: 279
Genres: YA Contemporary/Romance/Coming-of-age
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

The countdown to university has begun...

When Elizabeth receives her first-year roommate assignment at the beginning of summer, she shoots off an email to coordinate the basics: TV, microwave, mini-fridge. She can't wait to escape her New Jersey beach town - and her mom - and start life afresh in California.

That first note to Lauren in San Francisco comes as a surprise; she had requested a single. But if Lauren's learned anything from being the oldest of six, it's that you don't always get what you want, especially when what you want is privacy.

Soon the girls are emailing back and forth, sharing secrets even though they've never met. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives... and each other.

Of the few co-authored books I've read, not many have been great (anyone remember my review of The Iron Trial? That book was awful.) So, while I'd heard great things about Roomies from my friends, I was a bit apprehensive. But let me tell you something: if you're like me and you haven't had a good experience with co-authored books in the past, you don't have to worry about this one. It was only when I finished the book that I remembered it was by two authors, not just one; sometimes in books, the two-author thing just doesn't seem to work, but here, the writing was seamless.

I'd been expecting something a bit like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, but despite the obvious common theme, Roomies wasn't like that at all, and surprisingly I was glad about that. Written with alternating POVs, the two characters living across the country from each other keep in contact via email, which is where we see their friendship grow. I liked how they weren't talking to each other all the time, and that the focus was usually on things going on in each of their lives.

I also liked that the book showed how easy it can be to take things the wrong way online, which is something Elizabeth and Lauren were constantly doing. At one point, Elizabeth thought Lauren was rude because she'd sent a short and to-the-point email, when in reality, Lauren had been busy looking after her five younger siblings at the time.

What disappointed me - yes, after all those good things, this book wasn't entirely perfect, after all - was the ending. All that build up, consisting of a countdown to when they would meet, endless emails, excitement about leaving home... and then the book ends with Elizabeth opening the door to her new room. I guess in some ways it is a nice ending, but I would have loved to actually see the two meet. I was wondering if there might be a sequel but unfortunately I can't find anything.

All in all, this was a nice book and I enjoyed reading about Elizabeth and Lauren's lives, and I also loved how diverse and culturally exploratory this book was, but it's not one of those books I can fangirl about and I don't think it's one I'll ever push on someone to read. In the end, reading it started to feel like a chore, and I think that was due to the fact that the girls were counting down the days until university. so it started to feel like a race to the finish. If you like college/university stories then Roomies might be for you, but sadly, this time, the same can't be said for me.


  1. Aw, I'm sorry you were let down after the good parts in the book. That's disappointing. I didn't read the spoilers you put, but I think I have a feeling on what happens at the ending, which I hope doesn't happen...

    I have this book checked out from the library. I actually meant to read it last week, but didn't. I love college/university/dorm stories, which was why I checked it out in the first place.


    1. Ahh sorry, hopefully your guess is wrong haha. Fingers crossed you enjoy it more than I did!

  2. I think I gave this 3/5 or maybe 4/5 because I did enjoy the story (not hugely but I did) and the ending bothered me for the same reasons you've said. Books set in Universities are great, but this one could have been better.