Friday, March 18, 2016

Review: Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz

Book Blurb:

Will Sarah Merson's shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?

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.

My Review:

3.5 Out Of 5 Stars

Genre: Mystery, Supernatural, Survival, Suspense, Teen--

Sarah has spent her life bouncing around from foster home to foster home after her parents were murdered when she was three. When she is given a scholarship to attend the exclusive and illusive Sanctuary Bay High School, she is thrilled yet weary of the offer. Why would she be singled out to go there, when all the other students are part of wealthy and famous families? Sarah has a lot to learn about her new school and what is expected of her.

I found this book to be a very strange blend of topics and ideas. We have real world problems of abandonment and foster care system deficiencies and abuse, mixed with “first world problems” (to quote Sarah) of entitlement and what money can buy, a dash of a dark secret society, violence and group-think, teen angst and love triangles (not to mention the start of orgies), murder and the mystery of Sarah’s background, possible supernatural occurrences like ghosts , wolves and memory enhancement, government cover-ups, add a mental institute and mental diseases and lastly a POW camp from WWII with kids and faculty living on an isolated island with no outside communication. Sounds like this should be a horror story, but it wasn't really (sadly). I had no idea what direction the story was going to take next because it was such an odd assortment of plot pieces that didn’t fit neatly for me to have a complete story. If maybe only half were used I would have been engaged in the book more. To be honest, I was overwhelmed. That’s not to say that the book is bad per se, it was just super busy, and I could not really get invested in the first 2 thirds of the story.

Let’s talk about Sarah for a minute. I could empathize with her plight and the struggle with how she was raised and her poor expectations of people's behavior. But I did not really care for her as a character. She was honest about wanting more from her future, which I respected, but she had a huge chip on her shoulder, classified people into little boxes and used people if needed to get ahead. And, on a side note, if I was kidnapped and held in a dungeon for hours, then had a knife held to my throat and was told to drink blood and powdered bones from a random source while confessing my darkest secret, the answer would be a resounding NO. But what would I know? Different strokes for different folks. I won’t even mention the unsanitary aspect of said transaction. I was more interested in the motivations of the side characters, the strange setting and the mystery of her past/parents than her daily struggles to fit in and acceptance on the top of the social hierarchy.

So the last third of the book totally threw me for a loop. The plot was fast paced and full of action and went in a direction that I never saw coming and I loved it. It didn’t matter that Sarah is not my favorite character, because what was going on around her was so much bigger than my feelings for her. I would give the last 100 pages a 5 star rating because OMG, where as the first 2 thirds were fairly blah (in my humble opinion) so I guess overall I will go with a 3.5 star rating. And Dr. Diaz, woah that took me by surprise. A lot of the problems I had found in some of the characters had solutions or at least plausible reasoning that I appreciated and it made me reflect on the book in an entirely new light. Honestly, I am hooked from the strange twists and look forward to what will come next (I at least hope more will come next because almost nothing was resolved here, so expect cliff hanger anxiety). This was a very unique read for me and I am glad that I gave it a chance and didn’t stop reading when my interest dropped.

I received this title from the publisher in return for my honest review.

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