I recently grabbed No Exit by Taylor Adams from one of my favorite BOTM Swap groups on Facebook. It was categorized as a thriller, and I was warned it was gory: aka, it had my name written all over it. At this point in my life, I’m almost exclusively leaning towards this genre. Long gone are the days that I can read the “frilly” romantic reads (I still have One Day in December, This Time Next Year, and Beach Read in my TBR pile because this thriller genre realization is a fairly new one; it explains why I would read the same page of these books over and over and not really comprehend what I was reading. It was because I was bored, and this is no reflection on these books but rather my probable-ADD, busy mom who needs to be enthralled to keep reading personality).
Summary: College student Darby Thorne is on her way home to Utah to be with her dying mother when she gets caught in a blizzard, stranding her at a remote highway rest stop with 4 strangers. While trying to find a cell phone signal to check in with family, Darby ventures out into the storm…and discovers a little girl locked in a dog crate in the back of a van in the parking lot.
The story is full of heart-pounding twists and turns, and every time you think you know where the story is going, you’re stunned yet again.
My Review: This book was action-packed from the second page. I could not put this book down. My heart is hammering in my chest just writing about it and thinking about it again! Darby is not your typical heroine: she is admittedly a shitty daughter, and therefore in quite the conundrum, having found out just 24 hours before that her mother has late-stage pancreatic cancer and is undergoing surgery as her car skids off the road in the blizzard.
Taylor Adams’ characterization is exceptional. I could feel the conceit and arrogance pouring from Ashley, could hear the wet breathing of Lars, wanted to hug vulnerable little Jay. I went back and forth between hating and pitying Lars (but settled on hatred). I also loved how Darby wasn’t an “in your face” heroine. She wasn’t a bad person, but she wasn’t a great one. She had a fractured relationship with her mother, and went out of her way to hurt her mother with her words the last time they spoke. Although Darby quickly becomes the heroine of this story, fearlessly so, I love how average of a person she is. Adams also did a great job with the setting. I had such a clear visualization of the Wanashono rest stop: the coffee bar, the bathroom window Darby used to escape. It felt like I was right there in the storm.
I was warned this book was gory. Maybe I’m just a freak who has seen/read way more horrific fiction, but I didn’t think this was that bad. Now, I’m not going to recommend this for my 11 year old to read, and it definitely had its share of horror, but it wasn’t overkill for me. I was also fully expecting Lars and Ashley to have far more sinister plans for Jay, and was surprised it didn’t go down that road (until the end, and even then, I thought it would go even darker than it did).
Conclusion: No Exit by Taylor Adams was a solid 4 out of 5 stars for me. It was full of all the twists and turns you would want and expect from a great thriller, with well-rounded characters and lots of excitement. I for one am excited to find some more Taylor Adams novels (and I just discovered, Taylor Adams is a guy–I don’t know why I assumed he was a woman). If you love a heart-pounding, up-way-past-my-bedtime-because-I-have-to-find-out-what-happens-next story, No Exit is for you!