Thursday, February 18, 2016

Sanctuary Bay



Sanctuary Bay has an interesting premise. Sarah Merson is an orphan who has recently been offered a full ride to Sanctuary Bay academy, an exclusive prep school off the coast of Maine. It's set on an isolated island and one of the rules is total immersion- none of the students can leave until they graduate. See where this is going? Sarah's story is tragic- she saw her parents killed when she was very young- and she has no idea why the academy would want her, as they cater strictly to the rich and powerful. Sarah accepts the offer however and soon finds that Sanctuary Bay offers her a new beginning- but when strange things start to happen and her roommate disappears, Sarah realizes that Sanctuary Bay hides a dark secret. 

Sarah has a photographic memory and that comes in handy when trying to figure things out. Her two roommates, Karina and Izzy, are fun characters who take her in immediately- she can't believe how friendly they are- and the academy itself was well realized. The island setting of course is suitably creepy, with the ruins of an old asylum on the other side of the island, and lots of foreshadowing of things to come. The characterization might be a bit thin at times but there was enough there that I cared about the characters. And I really had no idea where this story was going- it starts off as a YA boarding school book and has a bit of a science fiction vibe. 

The middle of the book has a shift that had me thinking maybe Sarah was an unreliable narrator- things get a little crazy and I wondered if I had to reexamine the first half in light of new information- but no it's just a crazy plot twist! I think some readers will like where this goes and some won't- I loved it. It just depends on what you're looking for from a boarding school read. You may find yourself facing uncomfortable questions about Sarah as well- in her desire to fit in she may be too willing to go along with things that turn dangerous- but then again in high school peer pressure is an enormous issue and this book examines that as well. How far is too far? 

 Sanctuary Bay is a suspenseful read and a quick page turner. I flew through in two sittings and was pulled into the world from the get- go. If this sounds like your kind of read I recommend it and would look forward to more. The authors are working on another project so if you like good stories that are done in one book this is a good choice. There is room for a sequel but the story ends well, with just enough wiggle room that you can go wherever you want with how you think things turn out in the future. 

12 comments:

  1. I have to admit, when characters are willing to go along with shady things just to fit in, that makes me dislike them. I've had that issue with other books. But I can respect if that's actually one of the points of the book, the peer pressure thing, rather than just a plot device. This does sound like a suspenseful book, and you've got me all curious about this crazy twist lol. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. Yeah I hear ya. A couple times I was actually like "Sarah why are you doing this??" LOL. I think they were going for the peer pressure thing, and how she was rationalizing her behavior in light of her orphanhood (is tha a word?) and desire to fit in. I had to keep reminding myself too this was high school, and not college for some reason. I just have a hard time sometimes imagining high school kids going through all this YA stuff. :)

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  2. You had me at boarding school. This book sounds really interesting and creepy. I'm going to look this one up.

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    1. I know, is the setting awesome or what? I liked the isolated and atmospheric nature of the island a lot...

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  3. I love a good creepy setting and an island is even better! And seriously? Ruins of an old asylum? I'm not sure the setting could get better! The twists and unreliable narration sounds interesting as does the fast pace. I'll have to look for this one.

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    1. This is a fun and fast paced YA read.

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  4. This sounds like an intriguing and creepy read. The premise sure sounds promising with how they can't leave Sanctuary Bay until they graduate. I wonder how crazy the plot twist is, especially with your mention of sci-fi. It makes me think of a contemporary book with a big sci-fi plot twist at the end I once read. It worked, but was also a bit weird and far fetched. Great review and I am glad you enjoyed this one!

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  5. I've been wondering about this one since seeing it mentioned on your blog. I like the cover and the plot sounds intriguing and maybe creepy. As long as the girls don't make too many TSTL moves, should be good for me :)

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  6. This sounds like a great read! The main character having a photographic memory intrigues me. I'll have to check this out.

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  7. Ever since I read Enid Blyton's Famous Five novels I love a boarding school read. This sounds interesting and of course an asylum well that is gonna be creepy! Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Glad I looked at your review as it is not what I thought by the cover. Sounds like good suspense but I might have to be in the mood for a YA. I've recently read/listened to a couple and need a shift. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  9. Dang this sounds great! I love an unreliable narrator. I'm glad it was such a page turner for you. :)

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