No need to wait for my wrap-up post. Here comes my book of the month!
Title: The Escape Room
Author: Megan Goldin
Date of publication: 25 July 2019
Format: Netgalley proof
Number of pages: 320
Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.
In the lucrative world of Wall Street finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie and Sam are the ultimate high-flyers. Ruthlessly ambitious, they make billion-dollar deals and live lives of outrageous luxury. Getting rich is all that matters, and they’ll do anything to get ahead.
When the four of them become trapped in an elevator escape room, things start to go horribly wrong. They have to put aside their fierce office rivalries and work together to solve the clues that will release them. But in the confines of the elevator the dark secrets of their team are laid bare. They are made to answer for profiting from a workplace where deception, intimidation and sexual harassment thrive.
Tempers fray and the escape room’s clues turn more and more ominous, leaving the four of them dangling on the precipice of disaster. If they want to survive, they’ll have to solve one more final puzzle: which one of them is a killer?
Recently, I have been lucky with my readings, picking books filled with original plots, brilliant characters, and writing styles which draw you in from the opening. I thought it could not get better that this. I was wrong. The Escape Room wins all my book awards.
Have you ever found yourself in an escape room? I created one during my year studying publishing at university. We based it on And Then There Were None and had the best time creating clues and then locking our friends in a classroom with a big screen showing time running out. We had a laugh, we thought we were God looking at our little humans trying to win a trophy with clever thinking, and even if they failed, everyone left standing on their own two feet. But this is no longer the memories I have when I think of this game…
I do not like comparison, but I couldn’t help thinking about The Chain when I read The Escape Room. Both authors took a more or less harmless concept and turned it into someone’s nightmare. However, there is so much originality in each book that they don’t compete, they only create a brand new category: books that I would take with me to the grave. I loved every piece of The Escape Room!
Should I sum it up in one sentence, I would say ‘four sharks in a poisoned goldfish aquarium!’
The novel is divided in two separate perspectives. No dates are given, only names. We follow Sarah Hall, a young woman who gets her first job in finance at Stanhope, well-known investment bank. From the excitement of getting such a prestigious position to a cold reality check when the toxic environment and endless hours add pressure with every passing day, the author dissects all the feelings and the situations you can face in the City, as a woman, as a junior, and as a competitor. The bright picture turns into a grey and blurry shot as Sarah settles into her new life. Finance is a cutthroat world, choose it at your own risks! I simply adored being able to take a peak at the inside of one of those big buildings filled with people who play with money to make more of it, always more.
Sarah believes she can find her place at Stanhope without losing her ethics and values, but soon, the money comes in and don’t they say it changes everything?
I love Sarah’s character. Sincere, resilient, she reminded me of myself when I was hoping to get my first job. I was ready to take on any task, I was so grateful that I was eager to please, my eyes were filled with little happy stars as I entered the world I had dreamed of. Yet, with big dreams come hard truths, and Sarah doesn’t escape the rule…
The second perspective takes us into an elevator. Now let me tell you right away; I am scared witless of elevators. My cousin abandoned me in the one that led to my great-grandmother’s apartment when I was four. I couldn’t reach the buttons and stayed thirty minutes in the cabin, crying my eyes out. I am a huge fan of stairs!!!
Back to our story. One elevator, four bankers from Stanhope on their way to a meeting on a Friday evening. The description of each character did nothing to help me to like them. Before the elevator’s doors closed, I knew I would not get any sympathy for Vincent, Sam, Jules, or Sylvie. It didn’t prevent me from being literally unable to take my eyes off the book. LITERALLY. I didn’t walk the dogs, I didn’t go to the ladies, I didn’t grab a snack. The authors knows what she is doing and she does it so well that the escapism happens right here, right now. Nothing else exist except those people, their bank accounts, and the secrets hidden by the numbers on their files.
Once nicely cooped up in the small space, it soon because obvious that something is wrong. Very wrong. They discover the meetings was a pretext. The real reason they have been summoned is to play. An escape room with people you don’t like? How sweet… Impatient and each with their own plans for the weekend, the team decides to get on with the game, innocently thinking they can come out of there quickly and resume their lives. But with each clue, the game becomes more personal. So personal that the regular claustrophobia you can experience in such a situation turns into a bog cloud of aggressiveness and paranoia. I marveled at the exceptional writing that made me feel I was in that place, sweat on my forehead and a knot in my stomach. I was in awe of the mind behind the schemes that led the characters to crack their shell and show their true colours.
If you believe elevators are boring, think twice. Megan Goldin’s book is as twisted as the characters in it. This novel is like no other. Served by a pace that holds your heart and squeeze it more times that I could count and a narrative style as sharp as bank notes ready to give you the papercut of your life, The Escape Room is a punchy, ruthless, and absolutely mind-blowing novel.
Mad, bloody, and more addictive than chocolate, The Escape Room is one of my favourite reads of the year and an outstanding masterpiece you must add to your collection.
You can now get your copy and enter the game! Amazon
Thank you to Tracy @CompulsiveReaders for inviting me to be part of this fabulous tour. Don’t forget to check all the floors (blogs) for more information on the book!