Megan Goldin’s The Escape Room was one of those books that I looked forward to reading long before it came out. I happened across the title while browsing on Amazon, and immediately added it to my “To Read” list. I really enjoy a good thriller, and had recently seen and enjoyed the movie Escape Room, so I was excited to find a new book that was based on a similar premise.
It is important to note that Goldin’s book and the 2019 movie are not related to each other. Outside of the fact that they both include an escape room experience, they have very little in common.
The Escape Room focuses on a group of people who work for Stanhope and Sons, an extremely lucrative investment firm. Four team members are invited to participate in a compulsory team-building exercise at an escape room, only to find themselves trapped together in an elevator. As it turns out, the elevator itself is their escape room, and they are informed via a television screen that they have one goal, “Get out alive.”
Considering that the book is a thriller, I actually thought the beginning was somewhat slow, with a lot of description about the clothes that individual characters were wearing. I found this somewhat tedious at first, but then I realized that the descriptions actually provide insight into the personalities (and priorities) of the characters. This ended up helping me a lot as I continued to read, because I found that I was incapable of relating to any of the book’s characters. In all honesty, when a character’s “horrible” end-of-year bonus is more money than you’ve made in your entire adult life, it’s pretty hard to empathize with them.
The book alternates chapters between the characters’ experiences in the escape room, and a series of past events narrated by a character named Sara Hall. I’m not normally a big fan of this as a writing practice, because it has the potential to create confusion for the reader, but I felt like it was used very well in The Escape Room. The way in which Goldin ended many of her chapters made me feel increasingly eager to find out what was going to happen to the characters next.
While the book started out slowly, the narrative picked up speed as it unfolded, and I was able to read the book from cover-to-cover in a few hours. I think I got up from my chair long enough to make a sandwich, and then I continued to read while I ate.
Overall, I thought The Escape Room was an interesting and well-written book. It was very different from what I had anticipated; more psychological drama than thriller. That being said, there were some moments that made me extremely uncomfortable while I was reading.
While I generally try to avoid spoilers in my book reviews, I do think it’s important that I give you a heads-up when a book contains scenes or references to things that are potential triggers for readers. In addition to some violence and strong language, The Escape Room contains some situations where female characters are subjected to unwanted physical attention, including sexual assault.
If you do decide to read The Escape Room, it will fulfill several prompts from this year’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, including: “a debut novel,” “a book published in 2019,” and “a book revolving around a puzzle or game” (since escape rooms are all about solving puzzles). Personally, I’ve already read other books that fit into these specific categories, but there’s no rule that says you can’t read more than one book per reading prompt.