BOOK REVIEW: THE ESCAPE ROOM by Megan Goldin

Another NetGalley book, reviewed later than intended. I picked it up as a library book recently–ran out of time–got it again…

At that point, all you can do is hope that the book is going to be worth it. I’d already been disappointed by one I’d done this with; I wasn’t ready for a second.

Luckily, it didn’t come to that. This is definitely an enjoyable little thriller.

Told in alternating viewpoints, we follow a young woman beginning her career in a very high-class, hard-working, cutthroat investment banking firm… and then as we find as we move on, four of her co-workers, in an “escape room” for “team building” concocted out of an elevator. In Sara’s chapters, we learn just how ruthless and cruel life at Stanhope and Sons can be, and just how much one person will be expected to give in order to climb the ranks. In the elevator, we see the four team members slowly devolve into something akin to madness–as almost anyone would be if you were stuck in a confined space with people you didn’t really so much as trust, but tolerate. Team building is desperately needed, sure, but it’s at the end of a very long list of other things these people need to be taught–or re-taught.

I’ve seen reviews say that the ending was telegraphed early on, and maybe it’s just the speed at which I read, but I didn’t feel like it was that obvious. You can start to put the pieces together as the time goes on, but it goes much deeper than I expected it to.  There isn’t a huge amount of depth to the characters, but in many ways, I think that’s a bit the point. Each of them have their Thing that they can cling to and point at to say “yes, here is the area in which I excel” and they haven’t really expanded themselves past then. Life at Stanhope doesn’t much allow for that. So I understand how shallow our protagonists are.

What I have to emphasize, and I say this any time I run into it and I’ve enjoyed the book, is that this is the author’s debut novel.  For a debut, this is astounding. Just twisty enough to keep you on your toes, just amusing enough to keep a smile on your face, and just horrifying enough to keep you turning pages because you have to figure out how this all is going to sort itself out in the end. This absolutely makes Goldin a name I’m willing to look out for in the future. Absolutely something I would recommend to anyone in the market for a well-paced thriller with an interesting viewpoint not usually focused on.

Rating: **** (Recommended)

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