Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sanctuary Bay - Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

I love, yes love, books about secret societies. I've been reading books about secret societies since I was in high school, there's just something about the exclusive club, and the often sinister story line, that pull me in. When given the chance to read Sanctuary Bay I jumped at the chance, because the synopsis of this book definitely promises a very cult-like society. However, I was more than surprised by the twists and turns in this book. While it's a younger read, I'd categorize it as young adult, there's a lot of suspense, creepy moments, and definitely a secret society worth reading about.

Rating: 3 stars
Published: January 2016
Many thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Sarah is an orphan and she's been plagued by that one descriptive word her entire life. Her teachers treat her like a cheater, she lacks friendship, and while she has a foster family she doesn't feel like she belongs. After receiving an unheard of scholarship to Sanctuary Bay, an all-immersive high school, Sarah's social worker convinces her this is her best chance at attaining a successful life. With no access to the outside world, Sarah finds herself surrounded by people she likes, without judgement of wealth or privilege. Invited to join a secret society of other students, Sarah finds that the innocent front might have a far more sinister background.

Sarah is a hard to like character, but it works for this book. She's seen a lot of ugly in the world, questions everything, and judges everyone. You would think reading her constant inner monologue of judgement of people would get old, but it really just makes her who she is. I connected with her, with her protective layer over herself and her role as an outcast, even when she no longer was. She isn't the best secret keeper in the world, but she does have the qualities of a great best friend. The saving grace of this book though is Ethan. He's like John Bender from the Breakfast Club, like the criminal with a negative viewpoint, but he makes you think, he brings out the best in Sarah, and he really brings a lot of missing pieces to the puzzle. I really would like to know more about him and see his story line's conclusion. I definitely was surprised by everything in this book, you get the creepy crawlies just knowing Sarah is off to a school that's completely cut off from the outside world, but I didn't expect the twists and turns that did happen. I, for one, wouldn't want anything to do with a school connected to an insane asylum or a POW nazi camp.

I'm not sure if I'm just too caught up in the details, but something was missing in Sanctuary Bay. For all the background we get, I still don't feel like I really understand. The "wolfpack," or secret society, aspect of the story really threw me. I love secret society books, I will read any you give me, but this one confused me. Once you tie in the thing leading the society (removed due to spoiler), you'd think this would make sense, but no it's even worse. Was there even a meaning behind it? I certainly couldn't figure it out. On top of that, the secret society is pretty much sex, drugs, and booze, I mean is it supposed to make me think? All I'm thinking is these 16 year olds are too wild for their own good. Sarah's involvement in it is nonsensical, for a girl who thinks everything through you would think this would have a major question mark next to it, instead she's just as willing to make out with someone she doesn't even know. I get that there's something behind the other students, but Sarah follows along like a puppy and with no explanation whatsoever.

I'm really hoping this book is part of a series, because even though I didn't full understand everything I do really want to know what happens to Sarah and Ethan, as well as with the Bromcyan. There are several story lines that didn't reach conclusion, especially Sarah's life and Ethan's family. I could also easily see a prologue, one involving Sarah's parents, being written, because it sounds so interesting. Like I said, I'm a sucker for the details, but overall this book was a good read. Just enough YA/NA mixed with creepy mystery.

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