Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz
Series: Sanctuary Bay #1 (1/?)
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on January 19, 2016
Genres: [YA] Mystery, Thriller
3 Stars, Completed January 27, 2016
– read bold text only to avoid SPOILERS –
Let me just share with you guys that I actually don’t like thrillers. I’m one of the few that detested Gone Girl and a few other well known thrillers, however I’m always willing to try them anyway if the premise is interesting enough. I like to think this genre is a special spin of horror and mysteries, a fusion of two very different genres I’m not much a fan of. And I was hoping that since Sanctuary Bay was created for young adults it’d be less creepy. Gosh, was I wrong. This was so very dark but still managed to be pleasant and compelling enough for me. Honestly, I couldn’t put this one down once I started it.
Sanctuary Bay starts with the readers meeting an underprivileged orphan by the name of Sarah Mersen. She has the rare opportunity to attend the most prestigious elite prep school in the country, Sanctuary Bay, that happens to produce some of the world’s most successful and talented individuals. Sarah is special because she happens to be eidetic and possesses hyperthymesia, meaning along with having a photographic memory her senses are hypersensitive to certain, vivid memories. Because of her abilities, soon she becomes disillusioned by the chilling setting, secretive people, and mysterious administration when she notices some idiosyncrasies in the three. Naturally, when her roommate disappears and the students and faculty don’t seem to be bothered, she’s determined to uncover the dark truth behind the elite academy.
The really funny thing is that this book was nothing how I imagined it to be. When I first read the premise I pegged it being some dark contemporary but in fact there’s some science, technology, and a pinch of science fiction in this. When I read this had two male leads, I automatically categorized it as another love triangle romance. Imagine my surprise when both guys from the start presumably had girlfriends; the romance was not a big focus for this book at all. And I don’t know how I jumped from “dangerously attentive boyfriend” to a stalker-like, obsessive figure but I was proved wrong with that angle, too. But the fact that this book was so different from what I thought made it very unpredictable and engaging.
Sanctuary Bay reminded me a mix between the Maximum Ride series and Lord of the Flies, which also probably explains why I enjoyed it so much since I loved the two former works. It’s very much like Maximum Ride with the experimentation and unethical medical testings. There’s also a likable, fearless female lead that (guess what?) fits the diversity bill! Sarah is mixed African American and Caucasian, and she actually elaborates and reasonably feels sensitive about her differentness from the other students. And this story really made me reminiscent of James Patterson’s ya series because there were a myriad of well placed plot twists throughout (however, sadly, I admit that by the end of Max Ride there were too many that it became distasteful and hard to believe-I sure hope if this series continues it won’t be the same in that respect). And the Lord of the Flies similarities I perceived were how there were a bunch of people trapped on an island and it somehow awakened man’s dark, corrupt subconscious. And there’s no denying that Lord of the Flies was one heck of a creepy classic. Sanctuary Bay had moments that were no less disturbing.
However, the ultimate reason why I gave this book the rating I did is solely because of the ending. By now, you all know the two things that bother me most. One, when a character’s entire life changes because of a love interest. There needs to be build up and valid reasoning before someone comes to that conclusion. Luckily, Sanctuary Bay had none of that nonsense. Instead, it had the other element that bothers me just as equally: a somewhat convenient turn of events for an ending. Like the rest of the book, the last five percent of this was extremely fast paced-but not exactly in a good way. I wouldn’t say the book wrapped up nicely; there is a bearable cliffhanger. And it’s likely there’ll be a sequel because there’s much left to be revealed. However, how the main plot was solved was a bit too simple and convenient for me. I wasn’t convinced. The hacking and controlling the people that were injected with Bromcyan drug was too easy of an explanation for such a complex ride. Why couldn’t a revolution come sooner if it was that uncomplicated?
Nevertheless, I still think this is suitable for those that enjoy thrillers and read a lot of books for young adults. It was so fast paced and will be a fast read because of the captivating plot. The writing wasn’t something I particularly admired or took notice of, but it didn’t make the reading experience dislikable by any means. Not many characters were memorable aside from our main female lead, but that was okay for me. There was so much intrigue from the storyline alone. I found myself really enjoying this despite my reservation with the conclusion. The mystery elements in this won’t disappoint readers, for sure. I’m definitely looking forward to the next installment.
Special thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin for providing me this review copy of Sanctuary Bay and giving me a chance to participate in this blog tour. In no way did this affect my reading experience or honest review.
If you’re interested to see if this if for you, St. Martin’s Griffin did provide me with an excerpt from the book, which you can preview below:
Daddy pressed his finger to his lips, shushing Sarah quiet as he slid the door to the tunnel back on. She wrapped her arms tightly around her knees and pressed her cheek against her arm, trying to pretend she was back in her own room. But it didn’t smell like her room. Even the spicy smell of Daddy’s cologne had faded now that the tunnel was closed. And grayness was all around her. She was almost four, and that was too old to be scared of the dark. But it wasn’t all dark. It was just gray dark.
She tried not to think of monsters crawling toward her. Daddy said there were no monsters. But monsters liked tunnels. They liked little girls.
Sometimes when she was scared she liked to sing the Maggie song. But that was against the rules. She had to be quiet. She had to be still. She had to wait until Daddy or Mommy opened the door and got her.
Thinking about the rules helped. She could almost hear Daddy saying them, as if he was hiding in the tunnel with her. Even though he was way too big. If something bad happens, wait until the room is safe. If you leave the tunnel, put the funny slit- ted door back on. Run fast. Find a lady with kids. Tell her your name is Sarah Merson. Merson. Merson. Merson. Merson. Ask for help.
Her nose started twitching, itching from the thick air. Mak- ing her want to sneeze. But she had to be quiet.
Then she heard Mommy screaming. Mommy never screamed. Were the monsters out there and not in the tunnel?
On hands and knees she started creeping toward the slits of light, heart pounding.
“Kt85L is our property,” a man said. “You had no right!”
Out there. Mommy on her knees facing the hotel room wall. Someone’s legs. A hand reaching down. A silver bird stared at Sarah from a ring on the finger. Stared with a horrible little black eye. The finger pulled the trigger of a gun.
A bang. Her ears filling with bees. Mommy collapsing on the floor. Red spilling out.
Sarah shoved her fingers into her mouth. Quiet. The rule was be quiet.
Shouting. Daddy’s legs running by, out of the room. The bird man chasing. The door banging closed.
Something bad happening.
The room was safe. The bird man was gone. So she had to get out. Mommy was on the floor. Daddy was gone.
She shoved the door and it fell out onto the floor. Near Mommy. Near the red. But the rule was to put the funny door back on. She picked it up and shoved it over the tunnel like Daddy had shown her.
Sarah didn’t want to look at Mommy. She looked out the window instead. The window was always open and there was never a screen. Daddy’s voice came from the hallway, yelling. Screaming.
Sarah pressing her hands over her eyes. Not looking. Not look- ing. Something bad happening.
Daddy was quiet now. Something bad. She had to run fast.
Sarah climbed on the chair under the window. The chair al- ways went under the window. She stuck her legs through the window and jumped down. Now run fast.
She ran fast, looking for a lady with a stroller or a kid her age. A mommy would help her. She would say she was Sarah Merson.
Sarah Merson, and something bad happened.
Also St. Martin’s Griffin was kind enough to give me an opportunity to host a giveaway (thank you, again, St. Martin’s Griffin team!), so if you guys are interested please consider entering the giveaway.
Sanctuary Bay GIVEAWAY!
- U.S./Canada residents only (sorry!)
- Ends in roughly two weeks on Thursday, February 11, 2016
- 1 winner gets to receive a finished copy of SANCTUARY BAY
- I will be emailing and giving the winner 48 hours to respond to my email before choosing another winner
- Also St. Martin’s Griffin will be the party sending out the book, Xingsings will not be responsible for lost or damaged goods
- And, please no cheating. I will be checking the winner’s entries!
- Good luck!
Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4e94303f4/