Darby Thorne is making a last minute Christmas-time road trip home from college. She just found out her mom has cancer and she needs to make amends. In her rush, she didn’t plan very well. She forgot her phone charger, she’s lost her signal anyway, and she didn’t hear the news about the imminent blizzard.
Now she’s on an empty highway, the snow is piling too high to drive, and her windshield wiper just broke off. Seeking refuge at a highway rest stop already occupied by four strangers also sheltering from the storm, Darby’s upset and anxious but she can make it until the snowplows arrive. Then she glimpses something through the window of the van parked next to her. A little girl locked in a dog cage.
Darby’s trapped in the middle of nowhere with no way to call for help and no way of knowing which of the other stranded travelers she can trust. The only thing she does know is that she has to save this girl
At first, No Exit feels like a run of the mill thriller. You’ll be able to guess who the bad guys are right from their introductions. But almost immediately, the author tell you you’re right. What might have been a reveal or a last act twist in another book comes early in this one. There’s no mystery to solve. This simple break with genre convention threw me off completely and I was never sure what to expect next.
I certainly didn’t expect the level of violence. If you’re at all squeamish, this book is going to push your buttons. The amount of physical trauma Darby goes through in her attempt to save the day is exhausting. I exclaimed “Oh, come on!” at least twice after I thought she had taken more than enough punishment.
Still, I didn’t put it down. This is one of those books you’ll want to read straight through without taking a break. It isn’t great literature but, if you can stomach the violence, it’s a pretty great read.