Author: Kiersten White
Release Date: 24/5/22
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 31
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free eARC copy from Del Rey ,via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
The challenge: spend a week hiding in an abandoned amusement park and don’t get caught.
The prize: enough money to change everything.
Even though everyone is desperate to win–to seize their dream futures or escape their haunting pasts–Mack feels sure that she can beat her competitors. All she has to do is hide, and she’s an expert at that.
It’s the reason she’s alive, and her family isn’t.
But as the people around her begin disappearing one by one, Mack realizes this competition is more sinister than even she imagined, and that together might be the only way to survive.
Fourteen competitors. Seven days. Everywhere to hide, but nowhere to run.
Come out, come out, wherever you are.
Hmmmm I am not really sure how I felt about this one. On the one hand I found it really entertaining, it drew me in and I was eager to see where it would take me, on the other it just all felt a little one dimensional and didn’t really give me the explanations I was looking for.
I really liked the concept, fourteen characters, all from various backgrounds pulled into a high stakes game of hide and seek, as a concept for a new reality TV show, but with a more sinister back story. This is the bit that really excited me, how the ‘TV show aspect would play out, why each of the characters were there, how they would play the game, and how/why would the game turn sinister. However, while some aspects of this played out really well and kept my interest others were really disappointing, which left me feeling overall middling about the book as a whole.
Mack the main character had an interesting back story, however right from the start I found the way that she was pushed into the competition very McGuffin-esq. Without giving spoilers it really bothered me that most of the characters really didn’t have a strong enough reasoning about being in a strange hide-and-seek competition. In fact given a few of the characters back stories it should be the last thing they were doing, even for $50k! While each character was given their motivation for wanting to attend this competition none of the characters really felt multidimensional, which was a shame as if those facets of each player had been explored more and given more substance it would have made for such an interesting character study. This lack of depth to the characters just made the whole ‘game’ feel really thin and then in turn made the plot twists and reveals about the nature of the game even thinner and more disappointing than the shocking.
I wanted more from the worldbuilding too. Its set in a creepy abandoned amusement park and while on occasion we got some great descriptions of how it appeared and some hints at it being more complex that it first appears on the surface we really didn’t get much detail as to why or how it came to be that way. We are told a lot more than we are shown. This also is true of the big bad. We are told about it eventually but not shown much of it and while that is great to build tension we eventually need the big reveal and it never really materialises, we get no explanation as to why and what purpose it plays, other than one that is very reminiscent of the pretty little liars spin off – Ravenswood – and that was cancelled half way through its pilot season!
The clues towards the big bag twist to the game were also very very very obvious, like smack you in the side of the head obvious that all shock and horror to the reveal was just eliminated entirely. There were some moments that did grab my attention, but again would have been much more impactful if we had got more information into those characters themselves. I did like the budding relationship formed within this story, I liked that we got to see the slow build of trust and overcoming hurt from their various backgrounds was discussed in a really sensitive way. Again emphasizing how when we got more in-depth with the characters this book became really good. I just wish there were more of these moments throughout the whole book.
For me this book had a great concept it just lacked a little to really make it a great read. It was still entertaining and it still had me finishing the book but it just wont be making my best reads of 2022 list.