“The difference between a hero and a victim? Timing.”
William Morrow | January 2019
Opening Hook: Did we learn nothing about isolated rest stops from Halloween?!
Main Character: Lady McGuyver
Plot Twisty-ness: Hold-onto-your-bits thrills with a side of snow.
This is my first 5-star read of the year. And thank Thor, because I was starting to get a little cranky since nothing has really been knocking my socks off. Who’s fault is that really? Mine? Because of my choices? Get out of here! I don’t want to here it!
Reading No Exit was an exercise in cinematic writing. It would be easy to say it was written with a movie option in mind (and maybe it was,) but my gut tells me that what actually happened here is that the plotting and timing of the story are so good, that it comes across in vibrant cinematic scenes in the reader’s mind. And therefore, seems like it should be a movie. And it definitely should.
I would honestly give this five stars just based on the writing skill alone, it was that seamless and riveting. And my friends here know I don’t give out my stars easily. You have to earn this shit from me. You want easy stars? Go to the reviewers who aren’t dead inside with a stick up their ass.
It’s all ass sticks here, baby!
I do it because I love you and I want you to have an honest opinion that isn’t worried about feelings and blah blah blah.
Darby is travelling from Denver to Utah in order to see her mother before she has surgery for pancreatic cancer, and hopefully prolong her life. But the surgery or cancer could take her mother’s life at any moment so Darby really has no time to waste, despite her complicated feelings towards her mother. Speaking of mothers, Mother Nature has other plans and Darby soon finds herself driving her beat-up Honda – no snow tires and less one windshield wiper – into Snowmageddon. A devastating blizzard that is making travel nearly impossible. Left with no other options due to road closures, accidents and a lack of plow drivers on the road since it’s Christmas Eve, Darby is forced to pull into a mountainside rest stop until it’s safe to drive again.
Inside the rest stop, there are four other stranded people and zero cell reception. As Darby sets out into the snow to find even one single bar of signal for a moment in order to call her sister and mother, Darby stumbles upon a little girl in a dog kennel, inside the back of a van that belongs to one of the strangers in the rest stop. Darby sets out to rescue the little girl and keep her safe until sunrise when civilization starts digging out from under the knee-deep falling snow.
This was such a refreshing read for me. I mean, yes it’s a thriller and I read an endless amount of thrillers. But the genre is packed with domestic-noir “girl” titles and unreliable narrators that are just continually trying to out-clever each other. No one is writing straight action thrillers anymore. This was nothing but an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat breath of fresh air and I feel like it’s restored some kind of zen to my life.
This was honestly so fun and so gripping, and deceptively linear. While you might think, since the culprits are revealed relatively early on, that it’s just going to be a bloody, violent suspenseful fight for survival at the rest stop (which is entertaining as shit in its own right,) there is actually a deeper, more sinister level to the story that requires Darby’s initial intervention to ever even discover and stop.
This clever, extra level to the plotting is what bumps this up from a 4-star thriller, to a dope AF 5-star thriller. *air guitar solo* Wah-wahwwww-wahhw.
It would be really easy to have the elements of this story go off the rails. Darby could have been annoying, whiny or “white girl in a horror movie” dumb, but she’s human and smart and sassy and emotionally complex. There’s just enough personal detail and her McGuyver moments were epic, but in a very believable way. She’s a perfect “hero” for this story. Likable, genuine and tough.
And the villain?! Kick me in the crotch and spit on my neck because I loved him. Not in an unhealthy way, but in a purely psychological way. My admiration for Adams’ creation of this character knows no bounds. The psychosis and characterization were so spot on, and so perfectly fucked up, that it could not have been more fun.
When I’m reading, I usually think to myself: What would I have done? Or what would a reasonable person have done? And a lot of times, books fall apart for me because the characters do things no person would do in real life. Choices are only made with the intention to further a plot. And honestly, if you can’t further a plot without stupid ass decisions, your plot needs to be fixed.
But everything Darby did, I either would have done or I can understand why she made those choices. And that genuine behaviour really grounded this story for me. The circumstances are crazy, but the characters are human and so it all levels out into something that is so easy to fall into as a reader.
For me, there were no moments that felt “off,” thereby bringing me back to reality. You are always in the story as a reader. And it’s been since my last Riley Sager novel, probably, that I found myself that wrapped up in a manufactured world.
This is a dark, edgy, action-packed thriller that even got surprisingly gory. It was everything I wanted in my life. The hype is real!
A brilliant, edgy thriller about four strangers, a blizzard, a kidnapped child, and a determined young woman desperate to unmask and outwit a vicious psychopath.
A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?
On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside, are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.
Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.
Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?
There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?
Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.
But who can she trust?
With exquisitely controlled pacing, Taylor Adams diabolically ratchets up the tension with every page. Full of terrifying twists and hairpin turns, No Exit will have you on the edge of your seat and leave you breathless.