St Martin's Griffin
January 19, 2016
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In this genre-bending YA thriller, will Sarah Merson's shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?I have to admit I was a bit distracted in the beginning of Sanctuary Bay trying to figure out what book it reminded me of. Once I figured out it was Dark Companion (the books are very different but each had the beginning premise of a girl, living in foster care, being given a fantastic, nearly unbelievable opportunity to attend a remote/isolated boarding school only to discover strange things happening), I got more into the story.
When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn't sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate's dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay's glossy reputation.
In this genre-bending YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, Sarah's new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this "school" is something much more sinister.
There were things that made me question the plot, Sarah's character or the other characters - for instance Sarah has a perfect memory, except there are some pretty common things she claims to know know what they are. Even if she's never physically encountered them before, to believe she never read about them either was hard to believe. She also tells people her 'secret,' very quickly. It was hard to see her as this untrusting girl, wary of others.
Reading Sanctuary Bay was strange at times; the writing itself felt younger/aimed at a younger audience, but the content was definitely YA. (From Sarah's swearing to sentences like, "Maya gave her words a spin, making it clear she was talking about epic sex." (pg 8)
All of that said, though, this was an incredibly, incredibly readable book. That 'dark truth' mentioned in the book's description is definitely something different - and weird. Some parts are easy to guess based on things mentioned or how things are phrased but just how it all works together and what all is a part of that 'truth' is definitely surprising and intriguing.
I don't know if this is going to be the first book in a series but the ending definitely leaves the door wide open for it. I did have some problems with this book but Sanctuary Bay Academy, its structure and rules along with its location, the history of the island and the culture at the school shows some real creativity and the authors have created a very intriguing, interesting and compelling world.
I would want to read a second book with this world and characters, especially if there was more of Ethan (he was my favorite of the book).
thank you to the publisher for the egalley, via NetGalley, to review