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No One Gets Out Alive: A Novel

by Adam Nevill

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12210178,570 (3.56)17
"When Stephanie moves to the notoriously cheap Perry Bar neighborhood of Birmingham, she's just happy to find an affordable room for rent that's large enough not to deserve her previous room's nickname, "the cell." The eccentric -- albeit slightly overly-friendly -- landlord seems nice and welcoming enough, the ceilings are high, and all of the other tenants are also girls. Things aren't great, but they're stable. Or at least that's what she tells herself when she impulsively hands over enough money to cover the first month's rent and decides to give it a go. But soon after she becomes uneasy about her rash decision. She hears things in the night. Feels them. Things...or people...who aren't there in the light. Who couldn't be there, because after-all, her door is locked every night, and the key is still in place in the morning. Concern soon turns to terror when the voices she hears and presence she feels each night become hostile. It's clear that something very bad has happened in this house. And something even worse is happening now. Stephanie has to find a way out, before whatever's going on in the house finds her first. Adam Nevill's No One Gets Out Alive will chill you straight through to the core -- a cold, merciless, fear-inducing nightmare to the last page. A word of caution, don't read this one in the dark"--… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
The place Stephanie has just moved to is horrible, but it's not like she has many options. Jobs are hard to come by and all of the ones she's been able to find are temporary. It wouldn't be a good idea to go back to Ryan, her ex-boyfriend, and she definitely can't go back to her stepmother's house. This is the cheapest housing she's been able to find - it's either this or being homeless.

However, her experiences at 82 Edgehill Road quickly have her reweighing her options. On her first night, she can feel and hear presences in her room. Things get progressively worse, but she can't afford to go anyplace else if she doesn't get her deposit back, and Knacker McGuire, her landlord, is unlikely to part with any of it.

Supposedly there are other lodgers, all women, but although Stephanie hears people and the kitchen and bathroom are both shared spaces, she never sees anyone except Knacker. Just as she finds herself thinking that maybe she can get used to strange noises and crying in the night, the situation changes again and Stephanie's horror is renewed. At this point, however, it's too late to leave.

Content warnings for this book: rape, violence, gore (some particularly nasty stuff related to several characters' mouths), and probably other things I've forgotten about.

When I saw the trailer for the Netflix movie adaptation, I thought it looked good but also very much like something I wouldn't be able to watch, so I decided to read the book it was based on instead. Now that I've read the book, talked to my sister (who watched the movie but hasn't read the book), and rewatched the trailer, I'd say that the adaptation probably changed a lot. At the very least, it only adapted two thirds of the book - I asked my sister how the book's time jump was handled, and she had no idea what I was talking about.

It was frustrating how many times Stephanie talked herself out of just leaving, but at the same time I understood why she stayed. She really didn't have a lot of options other than homelessness, and if she went that route, clawing her way out would be next to impossible. She kept getting slivers of hope dangled in front of her - all she had to do was make it through a few days in this place and then she'd be able to figure out something else. She didn't know how ugly things would get, or how quickly it would happen.

I was very confused by the pacing. It looked like things were going to resolve themselves, for better or worse (probably worse), well before the end of the book. I wondered whether the story would morph from "horrible violence against women with nowhere else to go" into a revenge story, since after a while it seemed like several of the humans were actually far worse than any of the ghosts. Instead, I got a time jump that was so jarring I kept expecting it to be revealed as Stephanie's final delusions before death.

Up until the time jump, there were some extremely horrific moments, although I was relieved and glad that the author opted not to show certain things on-page (for example, the rapes, which Stephanie heard but didn't witness). After the time jump, the story took a break from suspense to give readers a history of the house and the things that happened there. It did eventually tie back into and resolve the horror aspects and what Stephanie went through, but it still felt like a huge shift.

As frustrating as it was, I thought the first two thirds of the book, in the house, was the strongest, although the last third had some good moments too. It's amazing how creepy the discovery of a bit of dirt in an otherwise clean home can be. I also liked Stephanie's determination to focus on the other victims, rather than just on the men who killed them.

This took me a while to get into, but when I did I read most of it over the course of just a couple days. The ending was a bit over-the-top and, like I said, the sudden shift in the last third was extremely jarring, but overall I thought this was pretty good. I may try another one of Nevill's works at some point.

It was weird reading this so soon after Riley Sager's Lock Every Door - the heroines were very similar in several ways, enough that I occasionally mixed up aspects of their backstories. Both of them ended up in buildings that were, in different ways, traps.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Oct 17, 2021 |
I would plough through Adam Nevill’s work if not for my to-be-read mountain and the fact that would leave me waiting for him to write more books to devour. In anticipation of the upcoming Netflix adaptation, I wanted to read the novel first. This is a horror story of two worlds, urban despair and cruelty wrapped up with supernatural dread and distress, and it’s difficult to know which contains the most terror. The story also takes a necessary tangent towards the end that piles on more anxiety, questioning the main character’s sanity. Much of the story is relentless, and now I’m waiting for the husband to finish the book before we watch the film… which I’m sure will be nowhere near as good as the reading experience. So far this is my read of the year. ( )
  SharonMariaBidwell | Oct 17, 2021 |
Well, that was a horrifying experience - not because the story was scary but because the writing was so bad and the book was so long! For the first hundred pages, when I knew there was another 550 to go and the pacing was like wading through sludge, I was tempted to DNF and delete from my Kindle. I persevered, however, and when the supernatural element took over from the weak attempt at social commentary, reading became easier but I was still ploughing through to get to the end.

Whining ingenue Stephanie Booth relocates from her hometown of Stoke to Birmingham looking for work, and moves into a depressing room at 82 Edgehill Road because the creepy landlord, 'Knacker' McGuire. is only asking for £40. She quickly realises that the place is a modern house of horrors, however, and that Knacker's Fagin act is the least of her problems (his Dickens-esque Cockney accent is painful to read!) Voices call to her from the fireplace and under the bath, while somebody or something wrapped in plastic is trying to crawl out from under the bed. Footsteps and crying from other rooms would suggest that other women are sharing her fate but the only other person Stephanie meets is Knacker's 'cousin' Feargal, a caricature straight out of Deliverance. When two Eastern European women finally do move in with her, the house suddenly turns into a knocking shop, and that, weirdly, is what drives Stephanie to breaking point. She's not a whore and wants out - but is she trapped?

Why are you still here?

Stephanie is, without a doubt, the most deeply annoying character I have ever had to share a narrative with. All she does is bemoan her life instead of taking action. She knows the house and the landlord are dangerous, and even plans to leave and stay in a hotel multiple times, but somehow never makes the effort to just get the hell out. When she finally confronts Knacker and his cartoon accent, she ends up helping him to pay off his bills instead! Girl, JUST GO, ffs! As Knacker Van Dyke tells her: ‘Make you? No one is trying to make you do nuffin’. You knew what the score was, so why didn’t you fuck off, like?' I think we're meant to feel sorry for her because she has no one and nothing and is at the mercy of 'the man' but I just wanted to smack her - the house is disgusting to start with, but sure, choose ghosts and grime over your life, good plan. And oh my god, how does she not know what Knacker means when he talks about 'the Scrubs'?

The haunting of Edgehill Road is actually well written - hence the three stars instead of the two I originally planned to award this overlong nonsense - but instead of getting straight to the action, half of the book is wasted on Stephanie crying 'Why meeeeeeee?' in her room. 'Black Maggie', some sort of ancient spirit that demands sacrifices, possesses everyone who moves into the house and turns them into soulless killers, including of course Thing 1 and Thing 2. They offer Stephanie up to the evil in the house, but she survives, physically at least, and goes on to make a mint from her experience.

The last part of the book, set three years later when Stephanie has changed her name and her personality but still thinks she's hard done by, is an awkward block of exposition that would have been better woven into the rest of the story. I was waiting for the history behind the house and the victims but was bored with reading the reveal in a dry block of names and dates after the fact.

Well played, Mr Nevill - you tried to turn my reading slump into a DNF depression, but I survived! ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Oct 8, 2021 |
This would have been a 4 star review if the first half of the book hadn't driven me crazy with frustration. From midlife I can look back on my green youth and honestly say that I was never as naive or in denial as the main character in NOGOA and watching her make one stupid mistake after another was maddening.

The second half of the novel was quite fast paced and tied up all the loose ends. The BEST PART is that this actually does turn out to be a story of the supernatural if you can get through all the horrific human behavior. I generally avoid themes of rape and human trafficking so this was a tough read for me. As a fan of horror involving ancient pagan deities the book was quite satisfying. As a pagan I just have to add that any goddess who demands virgin girl sacrifices is a very minor deity and a pathetic loser; powerful goddesses accept only adult males in their prime who volunteer themselves for the role.............just sayin'.................... ( )
1 vote Equestrienne | Jan 5, 2021 |
I became rather frustrated at the start of the story as the main character...Stephanie... comes onto the scene with her life in a shambles with nothing to lose. Her self-worth is so drained...she can't imagine extricating herself from the ugly situation she lands in. A few pages of this and you find yourself the victim of a real downer. But then you realize that these feelings just go to demonstrate the talent of this author. The switching gears makes the story exhilarating especially toward the second half of the book. It's a good read. Just stick with it. ( )
  Carol420 | Nov 30, 2018 |
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"When Stephanie moves to the notoriously cheap Perry Bar neighborhood of Birmingham, she's just happy to find an affordable room for rent that's large enough not to deserve her previous room's nickname, "the cell." The eccentric -- albeit slightly overly-friendly -- landlord seems nice and welcoming enough, the ceilings are high, and all of the other tenants are also girls. Things aren't great, but they're stable. Or at least that's what she tells herself when she impulsively hands over enough money to cover the first month's rent and decides to give it a go. But soon after she becomes uneasy about her rash decision. She hears things in the night. Feels them. Things...or people...who aren't there in the light. Who couldn't be there, because after-all, her door is locked every night, and the key is still in place in the morning. Concern soon turns to terror when the voices she hears and presence she feels each night become hostile. It's clear that something very bad has happened in this house. And something even worse is happening now. Stephanie has to find a way out, before whatever's going on in the house finds her first. Adam Nevill's No One Gets Out Alive will chill you straight through to the core -- a cold, merciless, fear-inducing nightmare to the last page. A word of caution, don't read this one in the dark"--

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