Title: The Escape Room
Author : Megan Goldin
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 07/30/19
“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
-Sun Tzu, The Art of War
This novel follows two different timelines– the past, as told by Sara Hall– and the present, which takes place in an elevator with Sylvie, Sam, Jules, and Vincent.
The very beginning of the novel opens up with a security guard who discovers that the building he is monitoring is not as vacant as he would have thought, as he realizes that someone is on the elevator. Not long after, he begins to hear loud sounds that he believes to be gunfire and calls the police. When the elevator doors open, someone walks out and the police discover a very bloody scene…
So we know from the beginning that something terrible happens in that elevator and that at least one person survives… but we are left to wonder about all the details that led up to this moment.
★Enter present timeline— Sam, Sylvie, Jules, and Vincent, all investment bankers at Stanhope, hastily enter an elevator in a yet-to-be-completed building. They are all in a hurry to be somewhere else and going through their own life stressors, so they are quite frustrated when the elevator comes to a halt and they are given one instruction…
“Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple.Get out alive.”
Begrudgingly shrugging this message off as the introduction to a “team building activity”, the foursome gets to work deciphering clues. But they quickly realize that this is no standard role-playing game… this is a real escape room.. That may have very real consequences if they don’t find a way to make it out.
★ The past timeline is expertly woven between the escape room chapters as it follows Sara Hall’s experience at her first investment banking job at a prestigious firm called Stanhope, where she quickly meets our four elevator-bound characters. Readers get to know Sara on a very personal level and experience the high-stakes environment of her line of work. As Sara tries to work her way into the inner circles of life at Stanhope and prove she is worthy of this highly-sought-after career, she quickly discovers mystery and corruption that might be the most dangerous thing she has encountered yet…
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I had been in a total book slump before this novel. I would guess that I had cracked open and ‘sampled’ 5-6 books in the course of a week, without being to commit to one I loved. But when I opened up and began reading The Escape Room, I could not put it down until it was complete.
This is a unique concept for a thriller and what I really loved was that it felt like it had miniature character studies woven into it. As Vincent, Sam, Jules, and Sylvie all reflect on past events and we experience each of their internal dialogue, you realize how nasty, flawed, and corrupt these characters are, while also being utterly human and relatable at times.
While the behavior can be quite ugly in this novel–it is so important to note that the sexism that exists on these pages is all too real, especially in the ‘climb to the top’ for success in today’s careers. I think all too many women are going to relate to the women in this book and relate to that burning desire for revenge toward those who have wronged us or those that we love.
I have seen many reviewers state that the ending was predictable, but I strongly disagree. While there were several obvious ways that the ending could have played out, it still kept me guessing and there were many surprises thrown in that I was not expecting. My only objection would be that the tailend of the novel’s conclusion felt a tad rushed to me. I wanted a little more details from the ending in regards to what happened to certain characters (hard to explain really without spoiling the ending). But overall, this did not affect the enjoyment of the novel.
A must-read for lovers of thrillers!
Thank you to Megan Goldin and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a DRC of this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!
Trigger Warnings (May Contain Spoilers): Sexual Assault, Infidelity, Alcoholism, Sexism