The Perfect Escape

Sourcebooks/Fire. Apr. 2020. 320p. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781728209395.
Gr 9 Up–Kate is desperate to get away from her controlling, tech pioneer father, while Nate is determined to fund his entrepreneurial ideas and make it to college while keeping his immigrant family afloat. When Kate and Nate meet at their zombie escape room job, they commit to a large-scale zombie survival challenge that, if they win, will leave them with a much-needed lump of cash. With a number of external obstacles to handle, including a case of eczema, an old crush who still holds Nate’s attention, and a wealthy classmate putting pressure on Nate to drop his grades in exchange for thousands of dollars, this book struggles to stay organized and maintain a steady pace. While many of the conflicts are interesting and original, their individual impacts are never fully realized, making their introduction and continuation feel more like distractions than plot points. Park highlights Nate’s experience as a Korean American, bringing an #OwnVoices perspective to the novel, and most of the characters are painted realistically enough for the purposes of the plot. However, Nate and Kate’s chemistry falls flat and a surplus of secondary and tertiary characters overwhelms the relatively short book.
VERDICT Readers may find this to be like a stock photo—it gets the point across, but without the genuine emotion to make it truly worth collecting.

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