Second time in two weeks I’ve had to make this kind of disclaimer. I’m starting to feel like Captain America.
*I’ve not seen Alien nor seen, or read Darkest Minds to have the context when having originally read Sanctuary or since for comparison*
*Second disclaimer- I guarantee Wordpress will now use that meme instead of the cover of Sanctuary when I post this to Twitter.*
Originally I picked up Sanctuary because it is a rarity among the Young Adult world- a straight Sci-Fi genre that doesn’t bend into fantasy at all. What I got was a Sci-Fi book that bends into Horror- BONUS POINTS to author, Caryn Lix.
Also, how do you not support a teacher? Lix has taught third, fourth and sixth grade for fifteen years. Just saying that exhausts me. I relate to that feeling. Bless.
This Book Was Not Provided By Anyone!
Sanctuary is the first book in the Sanctuary series. This will be more summary than review- although I do provide my thoughts. This is to serve as a refresher for those that have read it, or those that are curious, as it came out a year ago- but again- no spoilers.
Sanctuary is set in the future and premises itself on the Omnistellar corporation, which runs among other things, a space-based prison. Omnistellar finds teenagers with enhanced capabilities and embeds a microchip that incapacitates said abilities. One might equate that to house arrest, but Omnistellar doesn’t believe it to be enough. Nope. Omnistellar has also imprisoned them in the Sanctuary for “crimes” they deemed a threat to the rest of the population.
Kenzie, the main character in Sanctuary has been raised from birth on the value system of Omnistellar and structures of the Sanctuary space prison. Her parents have ingrained in Kenzie how Omnistellar and the Sanctuary is the lifeblood of current society, her duty as a Junior Guard and becoming an Elite Guard. Even if this is at the expense of questioning anything she has been raised to believe.
The time Lix takes early on to provide the inner thoughts, beliefs and interactions of those involved in running Sanctuary is crucial. Driving home the grip Omnistellar has on not just civilization but those closest to Kenzie, those that are responsible for her blind faith in Sanctuary’s mission provides context. Foundationally, it is the world and character building essential for readers to connect to and believe in the characters and environment once the chaos begins.
On a routine day when her dad leaves for a trip to earth, what is supposed to be a routine drill becomes a prison break. Separated from her mom, Kenzie is taken hostage. However, as the situation heightens, what she knows, what she thinks she knows, begins to unravel. Is everyone who they seem? Is what she was led to believe about the prisoners, her parents and even herself the truth?
Lix never misses a beat in Sanctuary. She takes the time to build a believable, futuristic world and characters we care about before going full throttle into the action.
Where her ultimate strength powers through is how Kenzie’s erroneous beliefs regarding prisoners, her core values, her family, and her own self never stop divulging themselves even at the most climactic scenes. And she isn’t the only one. Prisoners also begin to realize that things might not be so black and white, either.
These characters are not left to surface development. They are a diverse group of characters hailing from different nations, backgrounds that are well developed with unique voices and stories. Each has their way of coping (or not) and how they change over time is never relegated to just push the plot forward.
And if that wasn’t enough, Lix banks a hard left and drops a new, unknown threat that forces an emotionally charged, internally suspicious and resource depleted group to find whatever minute trust they can muster for mere survival.
There are plot points that are tied-up, character developments that will send you on a rollercoaster where you will cheer and also become utterly gutted. The major cliffhangers, along with unanswered questions that you just know are going to come back for a punch, will leave you ready for more.
Luckily, Containment (Sanctuary Series, Book #2) will be released in one month: 8/6
Even luckier will be the winner of an ARC of Containment. Details will be announced when my interview with author Caryn Lix is posted next Tuesday, 7/16 My Review of Containment will post on Tuesday, 7/23
On a personal note: As someone who is a staunch believer in justice reform, I couldn’t help but pull parallels to America’s current despicable justice and prison (both adult and juvenile) systems. It was an impactful and important connection I made from the start and strengthened as we learned more about the characters and Omnistellar over time.