‘Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.’
St. Martin’s Press | 2019
Opening Hook: Team building at its most murder-y.
Main Character: A James Bond glow-up.
Plot Twisty-ness: Turning the heat up to 11.
Let me introduce you to my favourite revenge thriller of 2019. I mean, so far because it’s only July, but whatever. It’s not like my TBR is a cornucopia of revenge tales. Pretty sure it’s mostly serial killers.
The Escape Room is balls-the-walls wild, while still being grounded and realistic. I think that’s why I liked it so much – it was the perfect combination of over-the-top moments that exist just to be fun, mixed with a true-to-life high finance setting and realistic themes of suicide, loss, financial struggle and degrees of sexism.
The author took things that are honest and real, and that most readers will be able to find some thread of connection to, and kicked it up a notch with fantastical plot elements.
This debut novel is a tale of revenge that’s going to 100% fire you up to enact vengeance on your enemies. I’m looking at you, dude in my office who complained about the memes at my desk!
Anyway, this book alternates between present-day: four Stanhope and Sons hedge fund big shots think they are taking part in a mandatory team-building exercise in an escape room set up in an elevator. And the past: Sara Hall, a recent MBA grad who is desperate to cover her ailing parents’ mounting hospital bills, starts her dream job at Stanhope, where everything seems like a fairy tale, from the salary to the first-class treatment.
As the two narratives collide, we bear witness to the fairy tale crumbling and the cut-throat, sexist and toxic corporate environment reveals itself as it consumes Sara’s life and washes away her naiveté. When her only real friend in the office, Lucy, dies by apparent suicide, the most twisted aspects of the story start to unwind.
I’ve done an escape room once before. It was three rooms, dark and had creepy porcelain dolls all over the place. Do not recommend. But the point is that my husband and our mutual friends all worked together and were almost able to get out in the hour time limit through bonding and brainstorming and teamwork. We were just too dumb to lift the baseboard off of the wall to find the fucking key in the last room.
Escape rooms are actually perfect for team building. But, if we had been stuck in an elevator that ran over that hour time frame, there’s no telling what I would have done to those people as our mental faculties began to break down and work against us.
And if we’d also been greedy, shady Scrooge McDucks without a moral compass between us?
That’s what makes the elevator escape room the perfect setting for this book. It claustrophobic and confined, but it also leaves plenty of room for things to get really fucking crazy because of conflicting personalities and deteriorating mental states as conspiracy and paranoia begin to settle in, egged on ever so gently by the mastermind behind it all.
I only had two minor issues with the novel. One is loose ends. It was never totally explained why or who was behind what happened to Sara after she spoke to Vincent about the journal she’d discovered, and the aftermath of the elevator isn’t discussed in a way that felt like I was getting closure. And two, the ending felt rushed. I read the last sentence of the last page and still tried to keep scrolling on my tablet. I just thought there should be more.
But other than that, this is a surprisingly original thriller. Wait… like, do those even exist anymore? It’s realistic when it comes to the setting and the environment and the behaviour of the characters, but it’s fun and wild when it comes to the sinister aspects of the plot. All in, it’s a really refreshing read that was satisfying and gave me a little buzz, like I wanted to kick some ass.
As I said, this tattling bitch at work has it coming to him. I just need a couple of years and an elevator manual.
This is not really meant to be a mystery or even full of twists to knock your socks off. It’s meant to be a cold revenge thriller that demands blood.
Schadenfreude all the way around. And I ain’t mad about it.
In Megan Goldin’s unforgettable debut, The Escape Room, four young Wall Street rising stars discover the price of ambition when an escape room challenge turns into a lethal game of revenge.
In the lucrative world of finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are at the top of their game. They’ve mastered the art of the deal and celebrate their success in style—but a life of extreme luxury always comes at a cost.
Invited to participate in an escape room as a team-building exercise, the ferociously competitive co-workers crowd into the elevator of a high rise building, eager to prove themselves. But when the lights go off and the doors stay shut, it quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary competition: they’re caught in a dangerous game of survival.
Trapped in the dark, the colleagues must put aside their bitter rivalries and work together to solve cryptic clues to break free. But as the game begins to reveal the team’s darkest secrets, they realize there’s a price to be paid for the terrible deeds they committed in their ruthless climb up the corporate ladder. As tempers fray, and the clues turn deadly, they must solve one final chilling puzzle: which one of them will kill in order to survive?
Book source: St. Martin’s Press in exchange for a review.