Goodreads: Race for the Escape (or The Escape Room)
Age Category: Middle Grade
Source: Netgalley from US Publisher
Publication Date: July 5, 2022 (US)
Race for the Escape has such an excellent premise I had to request it from Netgalley: a group of kids go to an escape room but then discover it’s more than just a game: there’s some important Answer they need to find, and if they don’t, it could literally cost them their lives. Unfortunately, the premise is the best part of the book. A confusing, nonsensical plot, an inability to make me actually care about the characters, and a lackluster ending make this one a hard pass from me.
I spent most of the book vaguely confused by what was going on, in that it doesn’t make a lot of sense. As a brief example, one of the rooms in the escape room (which is really more of an escape building) catches on fire, and once the children figure out where the exit is, they are all relieved and move on as if they are perfectly safe. It is not once brought up that one of the rooms is the building is STILL ON FIRE and, you know, fire spreads. Usually I attribute illogical in middle grade books to the author assuming a young audience won’t care, but I am pretty sure even a middle schooler understands that if one room in a building is on fire, you need to get out of the building entirely, not just that room.
Weird situations like this throughout the novel had me scratching my head and, sadly, not finding the whole escape room concept that clever. I was looking forward to the puzzle aspect of the novel, and there are a few riddles and games and such, but when the whole overarching plot doesn’t make sense, it’s hard for small puzzles and clues to really elevate the book.
I also struggled with the characters. Protagonist Ami is fine, and she randomly exhibits useful talents that make her fun to root for, but something about the writing meant I never really connected with the other characters, and when they start getting picked off by the real dangers of the escape room I . . . simply did not care. I do think some reviewers are going to call this book “dark,” especially because it is a middle grade novel, because of the whole “kids dying” aspect. But I just shrugged my shoulders and kept on reading because the stakes never really felt that high to me, and I was never actually invested in the kids.
Finally, the ending really ruined the book for me. On one hand, the ending makes some of the nonsensical things that occur previous in the book actually make sense. On the other hand, it’s extremely preachy (and about something that’s sort of obvious). I hate lesson books as an adult, and I think kids are also sensitive to this, so fans of the book are going to need to be readers who don’t mind books that have a message the author wants to hit them over the head with.
I think the whole escape room premise will draw in a lot of readers, and many of them may still like the book in spite of its other flaws, if they think escape rooms are cool enough. This one was definitely not for me, though, which is disappointing.
7 thoughts on “Race for the Escape by Christopher Edge (ARC Review)”
It’s so frustrating when books with such great premises are a total let down! I admire you preserving though. I probably would have dnf’d haha
I guess it was a short read overall, so I just powered through, but I probably should have quit. :p
Sounds confusing and frustrating. I don’t like it if it doesn’t make sense. Fair review!
The ending kind of made it made sense eventually, but I almost didn’t get that far!
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I’m one of the people who said that I felt it was on the dark side for an MG book😃 I enjoyed it more than you I think but the ending did spoil it for me.
I definitely think it SHOULD have been dark, but I just found myself not caring about all these random deaths!
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