Reviewed by Samuel Redfearn, age 17

Dark Room Etiquette by Robin Roe

Sixteen-year-old Saye Wayte has been wealthy enough his entire life to never have many worries. His existence is such that he rarely holds any concerns for the feelings of others, and while he insists he isn’t a cruel person, he sits back and allows the more antagonizing people in his life to hurt younger students at Laurel High. While in his own mind, his position is one of indifference, he comes off as condescending, rude, and self-obsessed. One day, Saye is at a restaurant with his friends when he’s a little too rude to the waitress, who smashes a pie in his face. Embarrassed, Saye leaves his friends at the restaurant, but as he’s speeding away, he realizes his GPS is broken. Too stubborn to turn around, Saye soon loses hope of making it out himself, and thinks it a stroke of luck when he happens across a man who offers him a ride- until he wakes up chained to a bed that isn’t his, in a room with no windows. The longer he’s captive there, the more Saye’s journey into his abductor’s reality threatens to swallow him whole.

Dark Room Etiquette is a deeply chilling tale, and many of the decisions made to display Saye’s trauma in a way that is digestible for readers only heightened the sense of nearly animalistic fear Saye experiences throughout the story. The most striking among these techniques was time distortion. In the beginning, Saye is able to give a rough estimation of how long he’s been a captive, but as time continues, his understanding becomes so clouded that the reader loses track, and loses hope, with him. This book is not one that could be easily called “pleasant”, but the more I read of it the more I was convinced of the author’s ability to convey Saye’s often monotonous mental state without boring the reader. The majority of the book is spent in the confines of a handful of rooms, and yet is never dragging. Saye is constantly developing, and his uncertainty in one reality or confidence in another alters his tone, his thinking, and his actions. The development of Saye as a character is deeply introspective, gradual and yet striking by the end of the story. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy a character’s intense psychological journeys.

4 stars of 5 stars

Find this book in our catalog: Dark Room Etiquette

Catalog Number: YA FIC ROE,R

505 pages