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No Exit

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A thriller about four strangers, a blizzard, a kidnapped child, and a determined young woman desperate to unmask and outwit a vicious psychopath

A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

336 pages, Hardcover

First published January 15, 2018

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About the author

Taylor Adams

5 books3,548 followers
Taylor Adams is the author of several acclaimed thrillers including No Exit and Hairpin Bridge. No Exit has been published in 32 languages and was recently released by 20th Century Studios as a Hulu Original Film. Adams lives in Washington State.

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5 stars
50,088 (35%)
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3 stars
26,274 (18%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 18,323 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
June 7, 2019
No Exit was a deeply infuriating book.

I love the premise. Darby Thorne is caught in the middle of a blizzard in the Colorado mountains, forced to take shelter at a rest stop with four other people, with no cell reception or any way out until the storm is over. She goes outside in a failed attempt to get a signal and happens to glance in the back of a parked van. And there she sees the hand of a young girl reaching through the bars of a cage. Why is a child locked in the back of a van? Why is she in a cage? What does the culprit plan to do with her? And, most importantly, who is it?

I was all signed up for this. It sounded creepy and fantastic. But this book just contains a major pet peeve of mine, and it comes up not once but several times over the course of the novel. It's this: all the twists and turns rely on characters making stupid mistakes. Namely, Darby making stupid mistakes. I hate it in books and movies when a character almost gets away but then discovers they have done something so unbelievably dumb that, uh oh, they're captured again.

This happens so many times in this book! From the very beginning when we learn that Darby is out driving in a blizzard and has left her charger a hundred miles back in her dorm room. It just feels so forced. I mean, it's obvious the whole point of it is so the author can continuously bring up the ever-dwindling charge on Darby's phone.

And then it was one reckless decision and major "oops" after another. I got to the stage where I was like please, girl, screw your head on right. Like she would try to do something secretive and then oops she left glaring evidence of where she'd been out in the open. And she knows she's in a dire situation but then oops she left her phone in the bathroom or oops she wasn't looking where the hell she was going.

The culprit is revealed very early on the novel and it mostly becomes a story about Darby trying to stay alive through the night. I disliked a number of things about this, but I especially didn't like how the villain was so over-the-top, mustache-twirling, muahaha EVIL. Their penchant for showmanship just felt silly and I still don't understand why

My dislike for the villain, though, was still secondary to my annoyance with Darcy. She is the only character we're really encouraged to care about and it was difficult when she did so many stupid things.

Warning for those sensitive to scenes of violence: this is a pretty gory one.

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Profile Image for Melissa.
647 reviews28.7k followers
March 27, 2019
Action-packed. Edgy. Tense. Riveting.

If ever there was a book to inspire cinematic vibes, it’s this one. A plot thrilling enough to conjure up those things that often accompany a notable suspense flick—I’m talking perching rigidly on the edge of my seat, I won’t dare look away, as I mindlessly shovel handfuls of popcorn from bucket to mouth. A tense storyline, wintery terrain, and questionable characters collide in a way that makes NO EXIT impossible to put down. Ripe pickings for the big screen, I’d be surprised if a production company hasn't snatched this up already.

Darby sets out from Denver, in hopes of making it to Utah to see her estranged mother before she heads into surgery. That plan quickly thwarted in the face of Snowmageddon. Woefully unprepared, Darby has no choice but to hunker down in a mountainside rest stop. With road closures, no cellphone reception, and dwindling battery life there is literally no exit until dawn. And four random strangers to contend with.

It’s on a short, snowy jaunt to secure even a single bar of reception that Darby unknowingly becomes a key player in a little girl’s nightmare. Restrained in a dog cage in the back of a crappy van, Darby is the girl's only hope for escape. Her first course of action, figure out which of the four rest stop strangers the van belongs to. Second—and more importantly—pinpoint who seems trustworthy enough to ask for help.

The culprit may seem obvious at first glance, but if thrillers have taught us anything, it's that first impressions are often deceiving. It’s a race to outsmart the dirtbag responsible while keeping the little girl safe and surviving until sun up—a feat that at times feels hopeless.

Sure, there are times Darby’s decisions seem questionable—making me want to scream in frustration—but there are others when she’s fantastically tenacious. Somehow, managing to MacGyver her way out of some anxiety riddled scenarios. What fun would it be if she made the predictable and easy choice every time?

NO EXIT brings a fresh perspective to a genre rife with domestic noir, unreliable narrators, and off-the-wall twists delivered in the name of trickery. There's something to be said about an edgy, dark and action-packed thriller reminiscent of fear-inducing cinema. Although, if you’re anything like me, highway rest stops are out of the question for the foreseeable future. And nail guns, I don't think I'll ever be able to look at one again and not think of this book.

*A BIG thank you to William Morrow for providing a review copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,302 reviews43.9k followers
February 12, 2023
OMG! When I scrolled down the Hulu menu, I found the movie adaptation of this FREAKING FANTASTIC book! I’m hundred percent sure the book might be better as always but I’m still excited to give it a try even though 53 meta score is a little disappointing!

I’m speechless, nailless ( I bit them all), claustrophobic five snowing stars!!!!
I just came home from watching new version of Pet Sematary! But if I have to compare what I finish to read now with the movie ( or all the other thriller movies I watched on this month) this book definitely beats them up!
From the beginning till the end it makes you sit on the edge( as a result I sat on the floor to finish this), you feel your heart beats faster, you get shocked and surprised with twists, you got sucker punched by too many I didn’t see it coming-s, you just keep reading and reading till your hands start to shake and you start to suffer from sleep deprivation and scream aloud when you see your red eyed face in the mirror.
This is the best thriller I’ve read on 2019. But the fact surprised me this book was published on 2017. So I couldn’t understand this amazing thriller got hidden at some shelves so long because it’s really perfectly written with horrifying, disturbing characters .
This is fascinating and unconventional read with its fast paced story development and smartly created twists.
I enjoyed so much and highly recommend to all thriller lovers who enjoy to read something different and unexpected!!!

Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,605 reviews10.7k followers
August 4, 2023
**4.5-stars rounded up**

Darby Thorne has just received terrible news.

Her mother is dying of cancer, and according to Darby's sister, she doesn't have much time left.

Although previously their relationship has been strained, Darby understandably wants to be with her Mom in the final hours.

As she rushes home to Utah, she encounters a terrible blizzard in Colorado which makes all roads impassable.

Luckily, she happens upon a remote rest stop at just the right time.

Given the hazardous conditions, it seems like the safest option to wait out the storm.

Seeing other vehicles in the lot, Darby realizes she isn't the only traveler waylaid by the dangerous weather.

Upon entering, she finds three people inside. They seem amiable enough, then seemingly out of nowhere, a fourth individual arrives who instantly puts her on edge.

With her senses on full alert, Darby decides to gather her thoughts by getting some fresh air in the parking lot.

While walking among the cars, she notices a little girl locked in a dog cage in the back of a work van. This can only mean one thing: one of the people stuck here is a kidnapper and maybe worse!

Now Darby has to figure out how to free the girl, keep her safe and get them both through the night. All the while, trying to figure out who the predator is.

So, no pressure.

This book was hella intense. Adams did a wonderful job of consistently building momentum throughout the story. As I was reading, I found my level of anxiety getting higher, higher and higher.

The fun, edge-of-your-seat, kind of way; not the crawl under a blanket and not leave my house for a week, kind of way.

When this book was released, there was quite a bit of hype surrounding it. Happy to report, that hype is legit.

Channeling strong horror movie vibes, this story will stick with me for a while.

I loved the different characters and the horrific circumstances just seemed to get more and more dire as the hours at the rest stop ticked by.

Great pacing by Adams. I am really excited to see what he comes up with next. I hope he consistently stays in this Thriller/Horror zone. I definitely think he's found his sweet spot!

As an aside, perfect winter read if you live in a climate where you get a lot of snow.

Blizzard coming this weekend? No problem. Just pick up No Exit and STAY AT HOME!!!
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,296 reviews27.9k followers
June 14, 2021
This shit was intense. This is a thriller/horror novel about a child abduction that takes place in the middle of a blizzard in Colorado. Our main character Darby gets stuck at a rest stop in Colorado on the way to visit her family, and she meets four strangers at a rest stop, and in the parking lot she sees a child locked in a cage with duct tape over her mouth in the back of a van. So immediately we are trying to figure out who's van that is and Darby contemplate who she can trust.

I felt like I was holding my breath this entire god damn book. Sometimes I wanted to slap Darby for her decisions because I just felt so invested in what was happening and my heart was fucking racing and alksjdlkajs ANXIETY. I read this book in two sittings because I couldn't put it down. This book kind of gave me the same anxiety I felt with The Cabin at the End of the World, one of my favorites of the year. It has that same home-invasion feel to it and the horror in this book is pretty horrific to read about and isn't for the light-hearted.

Overall, I went into this book not sure what to expect and it was terrifying and suspenseful and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole book as promised!

Thanks to Book of the Month for sending me this book as one of their December selections!
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,509 reviews29.5k followers
January 28, 2019
Somewhere between 4 and 4.5 stars.

Warning: don't read Taylor Adams' No Exit before bed.

While there are some creepy parts (and some gruesome ones), those aren't the reasons I'm warning you. It's quite simple, actually: if you start reading this book, there's no way you're going to want to put it down. You're going to want to stay up until you finish the book, and then once you're done, you'll probably have a little excess adrenaline that will keep you awake longer.

Trust me, I was severely overtired this morning, so I speak from experience!

College student Darby Thorne has just gotten word that her mother is dying and is about to undergo potentially dangerous surgery. Although their relationship has never been good (her mother said that when she was pregnant with Darby she thought she had the flu, so she almost killed her with Theraflu), Darby cannot miss the chance to apologize and make amends in case time is short.

To get home, she has to drive from Boulder, across the state of Colorado, and into Utah. But Mother Nature has other plans, as a massive snowstorm and her old car don't feel like facilitating her trip. Before she knows it, she's stuck in the middle of a blizzard in the Colorado mountains, with only a highway rest stop for shelter. She can't get a cell phone signal to see how her mother is or let anyone know she's delayed, and she left her phone charger in her dorm room.

"Here Darby was, the underachieving secondborn, trapped at a lonely rest stop just below the summit of Backbone Pass, because she'd tried to race Snowmageddon over the Rockies and failed. Miles above sea leavel, snowed in inside a '94 Honda Civic with busted windshield wipers, a dying phone, and a cryptic text message simmering in her mind."

There's not much to the rest stop—some coffee and hot cocoa, a few vending machines, and four strangers. Sandi and Eddie are cousins heading to Denver for Christmas; Ashley is gregarious, handsome, and perhaps trying a little too hard to be sociable and funny; and then there's Lars, a rodent-faced mouth-breather who gives Darby the creeps. It's quite a motley crew to pass the time with, especially when there's no real entertainment save endless card games.

When Darby goes outside to the parking lot to try and find a cell signal, she makes a frightening discovery: she finds a little girl being held captive in a cage inside the van parked next to her. The van door is locked, and she certainly can't make too much of a fuss, because she has nowhere to escape to. Whose van is it? Whom can she trust?

"What were the odds of stumbling across a kidnapping in progress? While trapped overnight in a snowy rest stop? It was all too fantastical to be a part of Darby's life."

Darby must not only think of herself, but of the little girl. With two lives on the line and no way to contact anyone to help her, the ball is in her court. But there's more to her fellow travelers than meets the eye, and navigating her way through this may take more strength and courage than she has.

No Exit takes off with the first few paces and never lets up until the very end. Adams ratchets up the suspense and the tension page by nerve-wracking page, and the atmosphere was so evocative that I actually felt colder than normal while reading this book. Darby is a terrific character—complex, flawed, impulsive, and yet determined to fight the odds and save the little girl's life.

I really enjoyed this book. It was full of twists I saw coming and I few I didn't quite expect. Some of the twists, though, made me roll my eyes a little, but that's when the book felt a bit like a summer blockbuster, where you don't question how long the battle will continue until resolution is achieved, because nothing ever goes smoothly.

I had heard a lot of buzz about No Exit so I was really eager to read it, and Adams definitely didn't disappoint. The book probably should come with a trial-sized supply of tranquilizers, though, to calm you down once you've finished!

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html.

You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/yrralh/.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.5k followers
September 23, 2021
i have seen nothing but rave reviews for this, so im sad that i didnt enjoy it as much as everyone else.

and i think its just because i prefer more mystery when it comes to my thrillers. right from the beginning, the reader is made aware of who kidnapped the girl, so the story becomes more about escaping and survival, rather than figuring out who the bad guy is. the book as a whole definitely gives off slasher film vibes. not exactly my kind of thing, personally, and i actually found the villain to be too dramatically violent to be realistic.

that being said, this is a super fast read and i couldnt seem to put it down. maybe because i was hoping it would get better? regardless, i didnt actively hate anything about the story, i just didnt like it either. but i do think readers who enjoy horror/slasher films will easily devour this.

2.5 stars
Profile Image for Sumit RK.
637 reviews467 followers
January 12, 2019
A Non-Stop Thrill Ride ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sometimes god puts people exactly where they need to be. Even when they don’t know it.

Reading NO EXIT feels like a roller coaster ride. It starts slowly, but after you are the past the first obvious twist, you never know how it’s going to twist and turn and there is no exit till the end. No Exit has everything a great thriller needs: a ingenious setup, some edgy characters and some brilliant storytelling, building tension right till the end. The twists and turns are expertly executed at the right time and just when you think you have figured out the rest of it, everything changes.

Without giving away the plot, Darby Thorne is on her way to Utah to see her dying mother, gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside she meets four complete strangers. Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . ..and discovers something horrific in the back of the van, parked next to her car.

What unfolds over the next few hours is a deadly game of cat and mouse.

The difference between a hero and a victim? Timing.

The premise of a small group of strangers confined in a small space is not new before but NO EXIT takes the concept to another level. The book itself unfolds like a dark & edgy thriller movie; the creepy atmosphere, the twisted characters, the uneasy suspense building relentlessly and the story moving at a breakneck speed. The twists are introduced perfectly (almost in every chapter) which will make you keep reading, chapter after chapter.

There are 2 main characters around whom the story revolves and how they evolve as the story goes on is a joy to read, especially Darby Thorne. The chapters are short and the chapter numbers are replaced by the time of the events (another nice touch), reading like a countdown to the climax. There are a few minor plot holes but they can be overlooked. The slightly humorous tone at the start may feel out of place but some of it does play into building of an important character.

As an author, Taylor Adams effortlessly unfolds the story, deftly moving the set pieces and using minor details (which you could easily miss) to advance the story further. As an update, the movie rights have been snapped up by 20th Century Fox, with scriptwriter Scott Frank (Logan, The Wolverine, Minority Report). So it will be exciting to see how the film adaption turns out.

Overall, NO EXIT is an outstanding thriller with an engrossing storyline which will keep you on the edge right till the end. Highly Recommended.

Many thanks to the publishers William Morrow & HarperCollins, the author Taylor Adams and Edelweiss for the ARC.
Profile Image for j e w e l s.
315 reviews2,418 followers
January 10, 2019

Run to the bookstore, library or Audible when this little gem is released on JULY 1, 2017. NO EXIT by Taylor Adams is your magic carpet ride out of a sweltering summer and into a snowy hell.

A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger's van. No help for miles. What would you do?

Darby Thorne is a college student stranded by a blizzard at a highway rest stop in the middle of nowhere. She’s on the way home to see her sick mother. She’ll have to spend the night in the rest stop with four complete strangers. Then she stumbles across a little girl locked inside one of their parked cars. There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, no way out because of the snow, and BEST OF ALL---she doesn’t know which one of the other travelers is the kidnapper.

The very first twist left me breathless, and trust me, that's not the only bolt out of the blue. The uneasy suspense builds page after page until all the characters have gone off the deep end and completely off course. Darby Thorne is the reluctant leader of a child rescue attempt. I identified with her from the start, she cares about others-but she hates to get involved, you know? She is forced to overcome the reservations she originally carried and goes full throttle until the shocking climax of the story. Don't miss the Epilogue!

I cannot wait to see a movie version of this book. It's got humor, suspense and a straight forward narrative. Hey Hollywood! Here's the perfect script, we all need more escapist diversions from our boring lives (tee-hee). Please please make NO EXIT into a movie, thank you very much.

Update: I read and wrote this review in June 2017- I can't remember how I received the galley ☹️For unknown reasons, it looks like this little gem is just now widely published. Happy reading!
Profile Image for Kim ~ It’s All About the Thrill.
571 reviews618 followers
May 6, 2019
Holy flipping book hangover! I made the mistake of cracking this book open at 1am last night, just to read a couple of pages. I ended up reading this until 4am and then finishing it up this morning. Wow! Just wow! It was totally worth being strung out on coffee all day!

I know I am late to the party with this one, but I initially was hesitant to read it. I kept wondering just how good can a book be that takes place all at a rest stop? Ummm well I could not be more wrong. It was a off the charts, nail biting, chilling, crazy roller coaster of a ride. Hands down fantastic 5 star book. You guessed it, I loved it!

We all know that rest stops are...well a little creepy...especially a deserted one. I think what made this book just so frightening is the fact that it was so believable. Literally every single part of this story could actually happen in real life. Nothing was far fetched and the details really are a sign of our times.

I loved the character Darby as she put her personal safety aside to try to save a child. Even if she was emotionally torn apart due to her mother's condition and knowing she might not make it back home in time to see her alive, Darby kept fighting for a little girl who desperately needed her help.

I flew through this book. Not only was it extremely suspenseful, it is was a really easy read. I have never read a book by Taylor Adams before and it was simply fantastic. Sign me up, I am now a fan. I certainly hope he has something else in the works! I can hardly wait to see what he comes up with next!
Profile Image for KAS.
317 reviews3,127 followers
July 23, 2019

One thing is for sure, I was never bored!

This was one of those listens that I hung on every word spoken, not wanting to miss a clue, and in anticipation for the next shoe to drop.

This thriller features five main characters all stuck inside a rest stop for hours due to a blizzard. A despicable act is discovered, mayhem ensues, and no one can be trusted.

I found this to be a very fast-paced thriller with twists I never saw coming.

Great job, Mr. Adams! My first read and looking forward to more.

Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,263 reviews2,439 followers
July 30, 2022

I read this novel just because of its plot. I really loved it when I read the blurb.

Darby Thorne is stuck in a blizzard in the Colorado mountains with no cell phone signal, a very low cell phone battery, and no charger. She was going home to meet her mother, who is dying of cancer. She meets four strangers at a highway rest stop. In a desperate attempt to call home, she goes out near the car to get the cell phone reception. She accidentally discovers a nine-year-old girl locked in an animal crate in a vehicle in the parking lot. Was the girl kidnapped? Who among the four strangers is the kidnapper? Will Darby be able to save the girl? Taylor Adams answers all these questions in this thriller.

What I learned from this book
1) The masks of manipulators

It is a pity that this world is filled with a lot of people wearing so many masks (in a metaphorical sense and not a literal sense). Some wear them because of their helpless situation, while others wear them to take advantage of others. People wear these masks by using multiple manipulation tactics like mirroring and other methods to make other people act according to their will.

I remember reading somewhere that
"Personality is who we are and what we do when everybody is watching."

"Character is what we are and what we do when nobody is watching."

It is due to the variation and disorders in personality that people are wearing these many masks in their lives.

“A piteous creature that wore so many masks, he didn’t even know what he looked like beneath them.”

"He was a sociopath. Words and promises were meaningless to him."

2) Is early morning (3AM) god’s hour or devils (witching) hour?
According to Hindu tradition, the early morning (3.30 a.m.- 5.30 a.m.) is called Brahmamuhurta. It is considered the best time to meditate and study. The mind will be calm and serene at that time.

In folklore in the West, the same time (between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m.) is ironically just considered the opposite: the witching hour or devil's hour. They say that the apparition of all experiences and sensed presences are most common during this time. Some say that as Jesus died at 3 p.m., the devil's is just the opposite which is 3 a.m.

What I felt in my life is that waking up early makes us more productive and sets a positive tone for the whole day. The author is explaining the devil's hour in this book.

"The time she dreamt that her throat closed up in seventh grade Social Studies class and she vomited a three-inch maggot, pale and bloated, writhing on her desk? 3: 21 a.m. The time a man stalked her on her way to 7-Eleven, whistling at her, and then cornered her in the restroom, produced a tiny handgun, and shot her in the back of the head? 3: 33 a.m. The time that tall ghost —a gray-haired woman with a floral skirt and double-jointed knees, both bending backward like a dog's hind legs —came lurching through Darby's bedroom window, half-floating and half-striding, weightless and ethereal, like a creature underwater? 3: 00 a.m. exactly."

3) How can little things ruin our life?
It is not just the big things that we do in our life that we should be cautious about. We should be more careful about the little things as there is a chance that we will become complacent regarding them. It has the propensity to turn our life in any direction.
"You want to know the secret to ruining your life? It's never one big black-and-white decision. It's dozen's of little ones that you make every single day. It's excuses, in my case. Excuses are poison”

My favourite three lines from this book
“OK is the single worst word in the English language. Without contest, its an utter nothing.”

“The difference between a hero and a victim? Timing.”

“Death is supposed to transform you from a person into an idea.”

What could have been better?
Marcel Duhamel, in 1945 described thrillers like this-

"Violence — in all its forms, and especially in its most shameful — beatings, killings . . . . Immortality is as much at home here as noble feelings . . . . There is also love — preferably vile — violent passion, implacable hatred."

It seems that Taylor Adams wrote this novel keeping this idea in mind. But the problem is that he took it too seriously and added all the ingredients in an exaggerated form. The villain is so cruel and manipulative. It will be difficult for us to believe how the villain's character is created.

There is one thing the author should be conscientious about while writing a thriller. If the author is writing an investigative type or a crime thriller, he should be careful not to include the luck factor and divine interventions favoring the protagonist (investigative officer), more than once. If the author is writing an action thriller, the author should be more careful not to include this luck factor favoring the villain more than once. This novel belongs to the latter genre and has a plethora of luck factors favoring the villain, which makes this novel look appalling.

It seems God favors the villain, and everything Darby does turn into an utter disaster. Darby gives the only weapon in her hand to the villain and accidentally tells him the trick of coping with the darkness. Her mobile phone had zero reception, its battery reached almost zero percent, and she forgot to take the mobile charger. It is too hard to believe that all these and a dozen more events (I can't write it here due to spoilers) happened together to favor the villain. This is not how a thriller should be written. The biggest irony about this novel is that more than a dozen times, things turn in favor of the villain unexpectedly, and at last, the novel ends in precisely the way a common reader will predict at the start.

2/5 Despite the perfect plot the author totally lost the opportunity in writing a convincing gripping thriller.
Profile Image for Christina Loeffler.
143 reviews17.3k followers
April 24, 2019
3.5, what an unexpected thrill stars!!

Full review featured on my blog Recipe & a Read!

Darby Thorne is an average college student attending CU in Boulder, Colorado when she receives devastating news that her estranged mother has end stage pancreatic cancer and is undergoing life threatening surgery in a matter of hours. As Darby hastily packs up her car and attempts to beat a serious winter storm to make it to Utah in time to not just see her mother, but apologize to her for their estrangement she unwittingly sets herself on a path that will change her life forever.

As Darby attempts to outrace the raging snow storm in her Honda civic (a car that’s 100% not ideal for snow conditions) things go from bad to worse until she’s forced to pull over at a rest stop. When Darby enters the warm embrace of a rest stop that’s still hours from where she needs to be she meets Sandi and her cousin Ed, well meaning if not a little low-class. She also meets Ashley, a young and charming if not arrogant man and Lars, a creep ball and mouth breather. As Darby grapples with the snow storm and tries to find signal to contact her family about her current condition she stumbles upon literally, a nightmare of a situation.

Darby passed it, and in it, she glimpsed something pale inside the van. A hand. A tiny, doll-like hand. She halted mid-step, a breath trapped in her lungs.

When Darby sees this little girl locked in a cage in a van in the middle of a snow storm she knows she has no choice but to act. She immediately begins thinking through those in the rest stop, who could have kidnapped this girl and why, and how she is going to save her. As she begins unraveling this mystery, Darby quickly realizes that nothing is quite what it seems and everyone she thinks she can trust has a secret they’re hiding all of their own. With no one for miles, and highways shut down all across the state the only person Darby has to rely on is herself and knowing she can’t turn a blind eye to this kidnapped child she sets in motion a twisty thrill ride that’s sure to have nearly any reader on the edge of their seat.

The easiest lies to tell are the true ones.

Well, uh, ok, what do I say about this book? Um…. so, wowowowowow. This was not at all what I expected when I started this book. I’ve had this ARC sitting on my shelf for like 86 months now and I just kept passing it over for other reads for some reason. However, it’s been popping up all over my GR and was a group read for the Traveling Friends group. I missed it because *book slump* but the reception of this book was too fantastic for me to pass up reading it. I’ll get into the nitty gritty here in a second but my general takeaway was a pleasant surprise. For being only 278 pages, this baby packs a wallop of a thriller punch.

What I really enjoyed while reading this was its cinematic quality. I’m no movie buff but I love a good story in any way it’s told. Sometimes when I’m reading a book that feels really cinematic it annoys me because I felt like it was written with the idea of it being made into a movie, instead of being written for the sake of the story (looking @ you again Rey Frey). However, Adams didn’t fall prey to this at all. I can definitely see it on the big screen because it’s set up in a way that I think it would thrill anyone to read or watch but it wasn’t heavy handed or overwhelming.

I also really enjoyed the speed and pacing with which this was written. You start off with a bang and the punches don’t stop coming until literally the last sentence. Sometimes I find this to be overwhelming and exhausting but I didn’t find that the case with No Exit. The twists were numerous and shocking without being kitchy and predictable. They’re twists that made since, but only after I learned about them and had their explanations. I never found myself saying “well that’s super implausible” any more than I would in any thriller or suspense novel.

Death is supposed to transform you from a person into an idea.

It’s always interesting for me because I’m not a big stickler for having to suspend reality. I think it’s generally par for the course in reading. However, sometimes I’m able to suspend a boat load of reality and sometimes I’m the reality police. The prose here aren’t anything too special and there was nothing that really blew me out of the water. I had a few issues with feeling like this read was a little scattered and felt like there was maybe just a little too much going on for such a short book but overall I was impressed and thrilled while reading this. I was definitely left surprised and entranced by Darby herself as well as Jay and I enjoyed getting to be a part of their story and I look forward to looking into some more works by Adams.
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,195 reviews3,031 followers
March 17, 2019
I was on pins and needles the entire time I read this book. College student, Darby, leaves school to drive to see her dying mother in Utah. Darby's car in ill suited for the long drive, a blizzard is brewing, she has forgotten her phone charger, and the roads become impassable. Darby pulls into a remote rest side stop and must wait out the storm with four strangers.

Trying to get a signal on her phone, Darby walks by a vehicle in the parking lot and sees a little girl locked inside a dog crate. Knowing the kidnapper must be one or more of the strangers that she is stranded with, Darby has to decide how to deal with the situation. She has no idea who to trust or what she can do to help the little girl.

This is a horrible situation that just gets worse. This is one bloody, violent book and the tension is there the entire time. Darby does amazing things with the little she has going for her and the kidnapped girl but the odds are against them. What a ride, a ride I hope to never experience.
Profile Image for Debbie W..
760 reviews566 followers
January 23, 2023
Why I chose to read this book:
1. a clerk at a local bookstore highly recommended it; and,
2. October 2022 is my "Mysterious Month"!

1. it has an interesting premise;
2. it has an action-packed plot that immediately hits the floor running; and,
3. it's a definite page-turner!

1. although the plot was exciting, I questioned several scenarios:
- no one seems physically-affected by the blizzard conditions when they ventured outdoors, yet they're wearing clothing inappropriate for the harsh weather?
- MC Darby was sliding and rolling down a hill in mountainous Colorado, yet she never runs into rocks, scrub brush or deadfall?
- nine-year-old Jay is trapped in a dog kennel at the rear of a non-running van with no outdoor winter clothing, yet never seems to be cold?
2. characterization - Jay's reaction when Darby finds her is unbelievably calm. I would think that she would be crying uncontrollably, begging for help. As for Darby herself, I really couldn't like her with her not funny, smart-ass attitude at inappropriate times. And the other characters are just too cartoonish; and,
3. the writing felt amateurish. Some descriptions and dialogue were just too weird and cheesy and several details were "headbangingly" repetitive or just overall pointless to the storyline. (Kind of reminded me of Shantaram 🤢)

Overall Thoughts:
This might make a great adrenaline-rush Jason Bourne-ish type of movie, but I've read more believable and intense suspense/thrillers. Disappointing, because this book was high on my WTR list for this particular genre.

This book contains scenes of violence and mature subject matter. Reader discretion is advised.
Profile Image for JanB .
1,182 reviews2,793 followers
March 1, 2019
Darby, a young, ill-prepared college student, is on her way home to visit her dying mother. She gets caught in a blizzard and is forced to stop for the night at a rest stop, along with four other strangers, when she discovers a young girl in a crate in the back of a van. One of them is a kidnapper who has a young girl locked in a van. But which one and why? The roads are closed, there’s no cell phone service, and no one is around for miles.

What’s not to like? Unfortunately, after a terrific start, there are many plot holes and inconsistencies that requires the reader to suspend disbelief. A few examples:

- Darby’s mother is said to have pancreatic cancer but later it’s mentioned that she found a lump in her armpit. So, which is it? Breast cancer or pancreatic cancer? It didn’t have anything to do with the basic plot but sloppy editing like this makes me crazy.
- Not one of the 5 stranded travelers has an iPhone charger with them? Really??? Not that it mattered since there was no signal, so why even mention it?
- Darby trudges along multiple times in knee-deep snow during a blizzard wearing Converse sneakers, but only footprints are left behind. Is she somehow miraculously walking on top of the snow? There's no mention of the freezing wet cold or frostbite that would surely result.
- I won’t go into spoiler territory, but there are actions of the characters and plot points that made no sense and defy rational explanation.
- There was also something about the tone that bugged me.

On a positive note, Darby is quite determined and resourceful and it’s easy to root for her. If you can silence your inner critic and suspend disbelief you will find this to be a quick and entertaining campy thriller perfect for an airport or beach read so I'm rounding up from 2.5 stars to 3 stars.

This was a buddy read with my friend Marialyce and I’m glad we had each other to talk to on this crazy ride :)
Profile Image for Holly  B .
849 reviews2,013 followers
June 4, 2021
What I would describe as a complete waste of reading time. I had seem some reviews in 2018 and thought the cover was intriguing so I purchased a copy. I just got around to reading it this month.

The premise was ridiculous, the story outrageous and totally unbelievable. Silly comments and graphic scenes that were just gratuitous.

Total frustration with these characters and lack of any cohesiveness. Repetitive, non-stop eye rolling and should have been a DNF. It was like a low budget, B rated horror movie. NO Thanks!

Sorry, obviously this one was a massive fail.

Not recommended
May 20, 2019
We read No Exit by Taylor Adams in our Traveling Friends Goodreads Group and this one left us very excited after reading it! We highly recommend not missing this exciting and entertaining thriller!

Colorado blizzard, stranded travelers, an isolated rest stop, a kidnapped child, a cat and mouse game between a young woman and a terrifying psychopath

No Exit is one of my favorite type of thriller. A thrilling fast-past, climatic, heart-pounding game of cat and mouse between two strong and very different characters who try to outwit each other. I even joined in on this cat and mouse game by yelling at the characters and rooting here for our young brave heroine who gives it her all to outwit a psychopath.

No Exit had me turning those pages as fast as I could. It’s intensely gripping right up to that climatic and emotional ending. There are some terrifying twists and turns that did get a bit graphic at times. We were feeling things were getting pretty intense here with some of those scenes and might not be able to think the same way about a certain thing used in this story without thinking about this story. Taylor Adams sure knows how to play that shock effect well here. We might even be thinking twice about stopping at any rest/visitors centers again. And I am going to stick to my “if it’s snowing I am not going rule.

Thank you so much to Edelweiss, the publishers William Morrow & HarperCollins Canada, and Taylor Adams for the ARC.
November 26, 2022
If there was ever a time I'm glad I'm not currently driving through the perils of winter in my hometown of Buffalo, it's now!

No Exit begins with college student Darby on her way to visit her mother who is struggling to stay alive at a hospital in Darby's home state. Unfortunately, this news has come at a terrible time: it's Christmas Eve, and the blizzard of the century is beating down on Darby in her tiny car. With her phone battery waning and the conditions becoming continuously more treacherous, Darby gets off the exit at a nearby rest stop....and the story really begins. 4 strangers are trapped with Darby at the same spot and while she initially takes comfort in the fact she isn't alone, a trip out to her car to try to get cell signal changes everything. A small hand becomes visible through the back window of the Astro van belonging to one of these strangers, and it isn't a doll---there is a child locked in an animal kennel. Darby is horrified and realizes that with these dangerous and life-threatening conditions, it is up to her to save the child. But is there anyone she can trust? How can she possibly put the puzzle pieces together under the nose of the kidnapper themselves without giving away her position, her knowledge...and ultimately, her life?

I was immediately hooked by the beginning of this story, and if this book is nothing else, it is certainly a page-turner! This is a small cast of characters, so that being said, there aren't TOO many suspects. At the same time, the first twist was well-executed enough that I felt properly tricked. However, the next twist felt very similar to the first twist, so I felt like I saw it coming and that was a little disappointing. The pace is pretty break-neck in this one though, so there aren't too many lulls. Definitely some creepy bits of gore that gave this one more of a horror feel at times, but I think it fit the context of the story. If there's one thing that Adams does well, it's making the villain completely odious. I was waiting with bated breath for the final few pages to see what would happen and was certainly satisfied with the ending. If anything, I'm sad to hear the progress on the film deal for this one seems to have stalled, because a story like this is absolutely ideal for the screen!

This may not have been the most surprising and twisty book I've ever read, but the frantic pacing kept me glued to the pages and snuggling under the blankets, ever-so-grateful I was not trapped by my ultimate nemesis....SNOW. 😫

4⭐, rounded up to 4.5⭐ for compulsive readability!
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,155 followers
March 30, 2021
2.5 Stars.

Great Start....Much Potential.

Colorado Rockies. An imperative road trip home, quickly developing blizzard conditions, freezing temperatures, and no cell reception leaves Darby stranded at a remote rest stop with four strangers....and an alarming discovery.

Didn't feel it.... the cold (at all) or intensity of an extremely dangerous situation for the young college student....nor for 9 year old Jay locked in the animal cage. (no spoiler here) There were just too many unbelievable, foolish actions and situations, silly comments by protagonist when in dire straits, stupid villains, and to top it off, the unnecessary recollection of animal cruelty/death to cats.

Nope. I finished the whole thing, but cannot recommend as a serious thriller. Disappointed.

(With over 35,000 ratings and an average of 4.0, know I am definitely in the minority here....oh well.)

Profile Image for Lisa.
781 reviews
January 15, 2018
Unfortunately I DNF at 30% the plot was ridiculous Darby was an irritating character & if you were stuck in a blizzard WHY WOULDNT YOU HAVE A PLAN B?? For heavens sake Miss Taylor get the plot right UGhhh This was one forgettable book
Profile Image for Sandra.
681 reviews6 followers
January 9, 2023
Darby Thorne, a college student at CU Boulder, is traveling to a Utah hospital to see her dying mother. Along the way she gets caught in a snowstorm and pulls over at a highway rest stop. While trying to get a cell phone signal to call her sister about her mother’s condition she goes out in the snowstorm and makes a shocking discovery. She finds a young girl caged in the back of a van. Who, out of the four people at the rest stop, is holding this young girl captive? What do they plan to do with her?

I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced and exciting story. I kept turning the pages to see what was going to happen next. The villains were evil. Darby was quite brave and feisty at times. I liked the tension in the book, with the characters all stuck in the rest stop with no escape, thanks to the snowstorm. This story did have some gory situations.

A great read with lots of suspense and action.
Profile Image for Larry.
76 reviews8,737 followers
February 21, 2022
Predictable. Not bad, just predictable.
Profile Image for Tulay.
1,202 reviews2 followers
August 9, 2017
Had potential.

This book is for those like to read Robin Cook books. Scary, vicious and bloody nightmarish story. Can't believe any body traveling in that weather and those states, without any preparations. Got tired of repeated sayings and foul language. Don't recommend this book.
Profile Image for Meredith B.  (readingwithmere).
238 reviews165 followers
January 21, 2019
4.5 Stars Rounded up!

Grieving isn’t what I expected. You don’t see your loved one’s face wherever you go, haunting you on billboards and strangers. That’s a cliché. The reality is simpler, less melodramatic, and far worse. You just start to forget.

I want to start by saying I don't think I've ever disliked a character in a book more than Ashley Garver. He grins my gears and then some. But a sign of a good book is when an author makes you have an emotional reaction, right? At least for me that's how it works regardless if you like the character or not.

Darby is a college student and she just got word that her mom, who she hasn't always gotten along the best with, is sick with cancer. She is driving home from school for Christmas so that she can see her mom one last time. There's a huge snow storm and she ends up getting deserted at a rest stop. She's with four other strangers: Lars, Ashley, Ed and Sandi. Ed and Sandi are cousins, Lars and Ashley are two other random men - at least that's how the cars outside make it seem.

Darby is desperately trying to contact her sister and police in hopes that they can help them get out. However, the area they are in is a no service area. She is outside trying to find service when she notices something pop up in one of the cars. Did she just see a hand of a child?? Darby tries to shake it off but Lars gives her a creepy vibe and she ends up investigating. What she finds is horrendous. From here, the story goes into full action. Full of twists and turns. All I can say is Trust. No. One.

I flew threw this book so fast once I really got into it. I stayed up reading late (which I honestly don't do very often) and even after staying up late I was hyped up on what was going to happen. This is definitely a heart pounding, what's going to happen next Thriller. You want a thriller with a really happy or calm ending? Yeah, this is not the book that is going to give you that. There's violence, cussing, abuse (both child and adult), guns and more and it is like that throughout the whole novel. There were times when it was so graphic that I felt I physically feeling their pain! It's definitely a thriller, not a horror, but maybe some would say a little bit of horror. Either way, it's a very good thriller.

So why the 4.5 stars? The book started out slow for me. I know that may sound crazy to a lot of people but the first ~60 pages was a lot of anticipation and I figured this would just be another thriller that has a few twists and turns but isn't too intense. Obviously, I was wrong and this shot up to a 4.5 the last 220 pages of the book with non-stop action.

If you like thrillers and can handle the triggers above, definitely pick this one up. It published on January 15th. Thank you to William Morrow for my ARC of this book!
Profile Image for Lindsay L.
678 reviews1,322 followers
December 26, 2021
2 stars.

On her way to visit her dying mother, Darby gets stranded at a remote highway rest stop. A blizzard has shut down the roads leaving Darby and four strangers stuck together to wait it out. Darby has no cell service and discovers secrets about these strangers that make her question everything.

Did I read the same book everyone else did? A big disappointment for me after having looked forward to this one for years. I knew within three pages that this wasn’t going to be a good fit (should have DNF’d!).

Unfortunately, nothing about this worked for me….unlikable characters….implausible storyline….lack of any atmosphere, suspense or tension….sadly, I wasn’t invested or engaged in any part of this eye-rolling story.

I read this authors latest release earlier this year and while I liked that one a bit more, I had a very similar reaction so I have concluded that I am not the right fit for this author. I’m definitely the outlier so please read the countless raving reviews of this before making a decision.

Thank you William Morrow for the digital review copy!
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12.7k followers
May 23, 2019
Whoa! Edgy, chilling & engrossing stuff here!

NO EXIT by TAYLOR ADAMS is a highly entertaining, riveting and action-packed thrill ride that was quite the tense psychological thriller. The storyline and the chilling setting of this tale immediately drew me in and held taut right to the very end. I found that the storyline was so darn nightmarishly exciting that literally had my heart racing and kept me on the edge of my seat making this one totally immersive read.

TAYLOR ADAMS delivers a rapid-paced, suspenseful, gripping, well-written and perfectly executed read here that was such a vivid portrayal that I thought I was actually watching a thriller movie unfold rather than just reading it. That is pretty good storytelling to be able to totally immerse me in every little scary vivid detail as I am definitely not a visual reader.

This was pretty much the perfect thriller for me and one that totally blew me away. Yup landing into my favourite reads shelf!

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Frightening, isolating, and frigid. This cover totally caught my attention and is a fabulous representation to storyline. I am so ecstatic to say that it totally lived up to all the hype and exceeded all my expectations!
Title: Intriguing, clever and an absolutely perfect representation to storyline.
Writing/Prose: Well-written, engaging, gripping and fluid. Thoroughly enjoyed the narrative!
Plot: Scary, unsettling, intense, suspenseful, twisty, imaginative, and a little bit graphic.
Ending: A shocking, surprising, intense and action-packed ending that left me feeling totally wowed.
Overall: This book had one of the most brilliant fictional premises that I have read to date and I thoroughly enjoyed escaping into this extremely scary tale! Would recommend!

Thank you so much to Edelweiss, the publishers William Morrow & HarperCollins, and Taylor Adams for the ARC. In addition to receiving an ARC through Edelweiss I also purchased myself a copy of this book to read and review!

Review can also be found on our blog:
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
967 reviews849 followers
December 12, 2019
No Exit doesn't just promise to be an entertaining thriller—it delivers. This is one of my favorite thrillers of 2019.

Concept: ★★★★★
Antagonist/s: ★★★★★ + every star
Pacing: ★★★★★

Taylor Adams has brought us a true gem in this pulse-pounding, gritty, and realistic thriller with a one-of-a-kind unique setting. 5 strangers. 1 snowstorm. 1 isolated highway rest stop. 1 kidnapped child. What would you do?

No Exit introduces Darby, a college student on the stressful overnight drive in the midst of a snowstorm from Colorado to Idaho to visit her ill mother. Her Honda Civic is struggling to get through the snow, her phone battery's nearly dead, and she's left with no choice - she has to stop at the next rest stop and wait out the storm. Once there, Darby discovers that one of the waiting cars has a girl locked in a cage in the trunk. She's terrified, she's trapped, and now the stakes are high.

Guys, I could not stop reading this freight train of a story.

Darby is the perfect blend of unlikable and heroic. She's not perfect, she's not terrible - but she does feel a sense of humanitarian duty when she discovers the kidnapped child. Darby decides to help her, and we get to experience every high stakes decision with her in the most mundane of settings.

One of the best aspects of No Exit is its setting. Who would have thought a thriller conducted entirely at a rest stop would be so compelling? Adams has taken one of the "in between" places in our modern culture and transformed it into something that everyone who's been on a road trip will instantly recognize. The pros of this setting are obvious - we can all picture a version of Darby's setting, and therefore can mentally attempt to devise our own exit strategy in tandem with Darby's. I found myself thinking of rest stops I've been to, and what I would do in that situation. Adams' has made me not only love his story, but apply his situation to my own life.

I can't get into any level of detail as to the culprit of the kidnapping - it's definitely spoiler territory. BUT I can say that Adams was able to fool me twice. His antagonist is chilling, off-kilter, and honestly terrifying.

Overall, I'd recommend No Exit to anyone who enjoys mystery/thrillers. It's that good! Can't wait to see more from Taylor Adams.
Profile Image for Michelle .
911 reviews1,404 followers
April 2, 2019
Welp, I'm thanking my lucky stars that this is a library book. The writing seemed very juvenile (kidnapper loves farting..haha...so funny...Blech!) and the story itself is completely unbelievable. I decided to read a spoiler review and I'm glad I did because I'd have been pissed at the end of this one. DNF - 23% - will not be included in my 2019 reading challenge.

"I’ve already killed Beavis. Only Butt-Head left."

HAHAHAHA! That is one terrible quote!
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