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The Escape Book: Can you escape this book? Review

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This puzzle book by author Ivan Tapia and publisher Arum Press is predicated on the escape room premise in which you must find your way out of the room or a situation by in this case solving a variety of puzzles in order to get to the next part of the story. The book puts you in the position of the protagonist an investigative reporter, in this case, a woman called Candela Fuertes who has, of her own volition, entered a life or death labyrinth called the Daedalus in which she/you must figure out a series of puzzles to escape the labyrinth in order to stay alive. She has been poisoned which adds a further sense of urgency and tension to the story and it was her intention by participating in the labyrinth/security measure to discover its secrets in order to bring about justice to the villain of the story Castian Warnes whom she has been investigating for a while before entering the labyrinth. The labyrinth itself belongs to the aforementioned villain Castian Warnes who is a wealthy businessman but is crooked and his horrific labyrinth contraption is designed to kill anyone who can't solve all of its challenges, get the antidote and escape it before the 1-hour time limit is up although you, the challenger, in reality, will have as much time as you want to complete the challenges even though you are constantly reminded throughout the book how much or little time you have left after each solved challenge.

The major selling points of the book are the puzzles and the overall escape room challenge and not the story per se because if you get the book purely for the story then you will be disappointed as it just serves its purpose of connecting and setting the puzzles and challenges up so it is not a particularly interesting or exciting story and could definitely be improved upon as a lot of it felt a bit superfluous although it is fairly gripping and tense when combined with the puzzles and a time limit as you do feel a sense of urgency. There is a challenge at the close of every chapter with there being plenty of setup and story beforehand and you must complete it to move to the next chapter, as the chapters don't follow in sequence, in order to continue with the plot so you solve a puzzle and the answer will indicate to you what chapter you have to go to next. The puzzles are well integrated into the story so they don't feel out of place or you are solving something completely unrelated to what you have just read so you still feel you are in the story as you solve the puzzles.

The characters like the story are vehicles to get from one challenge to the next in that they clearly serve a specific purpose or role so you have the lead character and the villain and the rest of the characters are there to help move the plot along, explain the plot or help the main character but then again you don't need to know everything about these peripheral characters or their whole backstory but they could have been a bit more rounded and a little bit more fleshed out so you are more invested in them and the story.

It should be noted that there is content in the book not suitable for children and would say this book is definitely aimed more at adults as there are adult themes.

The puzzles come in the form of anagrams, optical illusions, word puzzles, conundrums, code-breaking, etc with each puzzle testing you in a different way and the difficulty level of the puzzles increasing as the book progresses. A few of the puzzles you will not need to read the story beforehand to have a go at and solve which is one of the faults of the book as there should be some merit in reading the story before attempting the puzzles and the stories and puzzles should be interconnected. There are only a few puzzles, 18 to be exact, in a book that has nearly 200 pages but they are well presented in that they do not appear on the pages cluttered and that they are well structured and incorporate the colours yellow, black and white which are the colour theme of the book to make them stand out. The use of pictures in the puzzles also makes them catch your eye and more appealing to play. You won't need a very high reading level to understand the story or the puzzles so you should breeze through the book with only the puzzles being potential sticking points. The character in the book has an hour to escape the room and solve the puzzles but you have unlimited time although you could set a time limit if you wanted to increase the pressure and difficulty. It is likely you will need a pen and paper to help you with working out some of the challenges and access to the internet.

The book has 176 pages in total so it is not an exhaustive read but offers plenty of puzzles that should keep you occupied for a week or so with a few of the puzzles taking much longer to work through than the others which can make them quite tedious and reduces the tension of the experience. The book makes an excellent travellers item as it can be taken almost anywhere due to its relatively small size so you can carry it on you wherever you go and it being light in weight so it won't be strenuous to carry or hold up when reading it and is perfect for accompanying you on holiday or passing the time on the daily commute to work.

The escape room challenge, in general, can come in other forms other than a book as you can get it as a board game in which there can be props or items to physically touch and play with to enhance the experience or you can take part in an escape room event in which there could be actors involved. Escape rooms are more than just a series of puzzles you must solve as they are an experience in which you are meant to feel trapped and there can be a horror element to it as well.

This is a book you could easily do either by yourself for which I think it was intended or in tandem with a partner depending on your preference as doing it with another person could allow you to be helped when you get stuck or just to share the experience and some of the puzzles do lend themselves to being group challenges.

The book I would say has low replayability because the story is not overly complex and is fairly easy to remember so not one you are going to want to return back to again and again and a number of the challenges are fairly simplistic and easy to remember and solve so if you do come back to them after an extended period of time you are going to easily remember them and how to solve them though there are a few that are quite difficult that you may not remember right away if at all so it may be worth returning to for a few of the challenges.

The book's level of difficulty varies from challenge to challenge and can be simple all the way up to a high level. As you get toward the end of the book the challenges will become much more difficult and the tension will ratchet up as the story reaches its conclusion. The book will, therefore, challenge even those with a high-level ability in puzzle solving and it will test a wide variety of puzzle-solving skills. If, however, you are struggling you can find a series of hints in the book for each challenge which will make the challenge easier and easier to solve the more of them you look at that should help you move forward in the book.

In conclusion, this book gives both a quite gripping story to follow and a variety of challenges in terms of type and difficulty to find the answers to and tries to make puzzle-solving a more fun and immersive experience which it does a reasonable job of. However, escape room challenges I would say work better as board games or the ones with live human actors as these can be much more immersive, scary and shared experiences. So the book does give a decent interactive escape room experience but the story could have been more interesting and thrilling and it could have done with a few more brain teasers to have a go at.




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