The Escape Room, by Megan Goldin
Publication: St. Martin’s Press; July 30, 2019
About the book:
Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.
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 challenge 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?
Once again today I am playing catch up with my NetGalley shelf, and have just finished Megan Goldin’s deliciously suspenseful novel, The Escape Room. For anyone loves a good revenge story, then this should be the next novel you read. As the blurb states, four Wall Street execs – Vincent, Jules, Sam, and Sylvie – are summoned to a building on a Friday evening for a last-minute meeting, but soon learn that they are doing an Escape Room team-building exercise. Furious about being pulled into this on a Friday evening, they begrudgingly decide to play along due to wanting a promotion and out of fear of rumored layoffs. Although tense from the beginning, things quickly turn dark and angry as secrets come out and the four turn against one another.
The chapters of The Escape Room alternate between present tense with the four trapped in the elevator and past tense, which tells all about a former employee Sara Marshall, her journey to obtaining a job at the firm, and her life after going to work there. Anyone dreaming of working on Wall Street should read this book. Do you really want those hours and the pressure? Sara has just graduated with her MBA, she’s gone into debt to buy an expensive suit, and has a horrible interview for the job of her dreams when she meets Vincent in the elevator. After sneaking a glance at her resume, he asks to take it and says he’ll be in touch. This leads up to Sara joining his team along with Jules, Sam, Sylvie, and Lucy. What was originally her dream career is overwhelming with its demands and the life she thought she wanted full of money and power soon begins to take its toll as she opens her eyes as to what is really going on.
Meanwhile, in the elevator, Vincent and his team slowly begin to freak out as they receive and attempt to solve clues. Each of their personal demons begins to surface whether struggling with addictions, haunted by incidents from their pasts, or secret fears of a financial crisis. Basically, people start getting extremely tense when trapped in an elevator for a team-building exercise with people they truly do not like or respect.
The opening sequence of the novel starts with the end, so to speak, so there are no surprises regarding the outcome of the four trapped in the elevator. The addictive meat of this novel is learning the how and why of it all. It took me very little time to dislike practically every character in this novel. Even secondary characters had traits about them that made me truly despise them and not care if they lived or died. However, they were so greedy, slimy, and flawed that I couldn’t help but want to know what would happen next. I will warn you by saying the last 1/3 or so of the novel is a little too unbelievable, however, it sort of made the revenge portion of the story even sweeter. And it was definitely a reminder of the good old rule of treating people as you want to be treated. You never know when someone is going to patiently and painstakingly spend years to enact revenge for something you have done.
The Escape Room is certainly about lack of morals and greed, but it also serves as a reminder that even if people seem self-assured and confident, there’s a very good chance they’re battling their own insecurities and struggling with some sort of guilt and regret. Megan Goldin slowly unwrapped these characters like presents, although a present no one would want, and that slow revelation into who they really were and what they were capable of made this a damned good book. Highly recommend this one!
*Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing this review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.