The Perfect Escape

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
The Perfect Escape Book Poster Image
Charming romance highlights communication and integrity.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate, although there are some Korean words and phrases used.

Positive Messages

It's OK to be ambitious, but remember to have fun and enjoy life, too. Focus on things you want to do in life, and joy will follow. Perseverance, integrity, communication, and teamwork are also important themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nate and Kate are smart, ambitious, funny, loyal, brave characters who demonstrate importance of perseverance, integrity, communication, teamwork. Nate is Korean American. Kate is White.

Violence

Story takes place during a weekend-long zombie survivalist competition. Characters battle robot zombies with stun guns and a bo staff, and fight other competitors to win. One character threatens another with a taser. Teens are bullied for receiving scholarships to attend an elite high school in Seattle.

Sex

Characters kiss. 

Language

Strong language includes repeated uses and variations of "s--t," "f--k," "bitch," "bastard," "d--k," "douche," "c--ksucker," "damn," "hell," "crap," "a--hole," and more. One mention of using the prize money on "hos."

Consumerism

Pop culture mentions include The Walking Dead, World War Z, Train to Busan, Zombieland, Xbox, Alexa, and more. Nate is often bullied at school because he's a "skid," short for scholarship kid. He's offered a large amount of money to commit grade fraud and must decide if the extra cash is worth compromising his integrity. Kate wants to use the prize money to leave Seattle and get away from her dad. Nate wants to use it to help his family buy a new car, save money for college, and jumpstart his career in tech. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mentions of beer, whiskey, cigarettes, joints, and coke.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Perfect Escape is a charming romantic comedy about two teens, Nate Kim and Kate Anderson, who enter a weekend-long zombie survivalist competition in hope of winning the large cash prize. Characters battle robot zombies with stun guns and a bo staff, and fight other competitors to win. One character threatens another with a taser. Characters kiss. There's one mention of using the prize money on "hos." Strong language includes repeated uses and variations of "s--t," "f--k," "bitch," "bastard," "c--ksucker," "damn," "hell," "a--hole," and more. There are also a few mentions of beer, whiskey, cigarettes, joints, and coke.

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What's the story?

High school senior Nate Kim is offered a large amount of money by one of his wealthy classmates in exchange for committing grade fraud. The extra cash could help Nate support his family and jumpstart his business, but is it worth compromising his integrity? At the same time, Kate Anderson wants to get away from her controlling dad and pursue her dreams of becoming an actress in New York. But how can she move across the country when her dad tracks her every move? Sparks fly when Nate and Kate meet at the zombie-themed escape room where they both work. As the two teens start to get to know each other, they decide to enter a local tech company's weekend-long zombie survivalist competition, which offers a huge cash prize. Will winning the game solve their problems and be THE PERFECT ESCAPE from reality?

Is it any good?

Suzanne Park's charming romantic comedy highlights the importance of communication, integrity, and perseverance. Nate and Kate are smart, driven, and ambitious teens searching for The Perfect Escape and seeking acceptance from their families. And while there are many hilarious and lighthearted moments, especially during the action-packed zombie survival adventure, the book also thoughtfully explores classism, privilege, and family expectations, making it a must-read for teens.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Does the romance portrayed in The Perfect Escape seem realistic and relatable? Do YA romance novels help readers sort out their feelings and learn how to communicate, or do they create false expectations about teen relationships? 

  • Talk about the various kinds of diversity in the novel. Why are diverse representations important in children's and young adult literature?

  • How do the characters demonstrate communication, integrity, teamwork, and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance

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