A Review of The Roommates by Rachel Sargeant

Four students. Four secrets. Can you trust the people you live with? 

Engaging, right? This is the premise for Rachel Sargeant’s latest novel The Roommates. The bestselling author, Rachel Sargeant, has become exceedingly popular among student readers, but why? Is it the setting of the University Campus and the compelling description of a Fresher’s fair that sounds all too familiar? Or is it the relatability of characters? Whatever the reason, it’s worth a read.

Formal disclosure, I am not actually a fan of Thriller novels and have probably read three in my entire life, The Roommates included, so no one is more surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel than me. To the extent that I finished it in less than five hours…Yeah, I was hooked. That being said, I have no shame in admitting that I have been converted.

As a student who has lived on campus, I was bound to like The Roommates, as it centres around four first-year students who share the same accommodation, yet I was still surprised by how much I genuinely enjoyed the novel. Having never read Rachel Sergeant before I had no pre-existing biases or expectations. In some respects, I think that was probably a good thing because I could just read the book for the content and not the context, which, as an English Literature student, is often challenging to do. 

The Roommates centres around four female protagonists; Imogen, Phoenix, Tegan and Amber. These four girls begin the novel starting their first year at university, but all goes awry when Amber mysteriously disappears. 

The narrative itself is constructed as a four-way split narrative with each chapter representing one of the girls’ viewpoint. When asked why Sargeant choose this style, she explained that ‘[she] used each viewpoint chapter to establish the girls as individuals with fears and prejudices as well as experiences and knowledge. Acting alone, none of them had sufficient determination or ability to resolve the dire situation. But together they might succeed by combining each unique skill set.’

As a third-year student looking back at my time at Uni, I realise how important the friends I’ve made, over the course of my degree, have been in my life and reading The Roommates reminded me of those things. Call it nostalgia, sadness or whatever you like, but this novel accomplished something that clearly resonates with students across the country because it certainly resonated with me, and I can assure you, I’m a tough nut to crack. So, when I tell you I got the feels for this book, you should believe me. 

As a fellow creative writer, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity of asking for advice from such a successful author. So, for all my fellow writers-in-progress, I shall pass on some of the advice Rachel Sargeant kindly bestowed: 

‘I think all a writer can do is write a book that interests them and hope lots of other people will find it interesting too.’ 

But most importantly, as all Creative writers probably know and dread hearing for the umpteenth time, ‘you have to keep writing [because] no one will publish your blank piece of paper.’ 

With those words of wisdom, I shall simply say, if you’re a student, have been a student, or just want a good book to read, go to your nearest library, bookshop or wherever else has books and see if I’m right.


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