Sanctuary, by Caryn Lix
Publish Date: July 24, 2018
Published by: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
My Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5 out of 5 stars)
**I received an egalley of this from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.**
Kenzie holds one truth above all: the company is everything.
As a citizen of Omnistellar Concepts, the most powerful corporation in the solar system, Kenzie has trained her entire life for one goal: to become an elite guard on Sanctuary, Omnistellar’s space prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. As a junior guard, she’s excited to prove herself to her company—and that means sacrificing anything that won’t propel her forward.
But then a routine drill goes sideways and Kenzie is taken hostage by rioting prisoners.
At first, she’s confident her commanding officer—who also happens to be her mother—will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. Yet it soon becomes clear that her mother is more concerned with sticking to Omnistellar protocol than she is with getting Kenzie out safely.
As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize there’s a more sinister threat looming, something ancient and evil that has clawed its way into Sanctuary from the vacuum of space. And Kenzie might have to team up with her captors to survive—all while beginning to suspect there’s a darker side to the Omnistellar she knows.
Wow. Okay, let me just say right off the bat – wow. This book completely blew me away. It shook me up in all the right ways, took me on a rollercoaster adventure, had me completely unable to put it down, and was just downright awesome. From the concept to the characters to the action, this book is gripping, suspenseful, thrilling, and quite possibly one of my favorite reads of the year so far.
When I first requested this on Edelweiss, I honestly thought that by the time I actually got around to reading it, I would either no longer be in the mood or be only so-so about it. But let me say, this book took me by storm. Sure, the first few chapters after the first one were a little slow and filled with world-building and information, but it was all very pertinent and did well to establish Kenzie’s character as she is from the start of the book, and how her life has been shaped so far. But then, once the action starts – it just took off, and I could not put it down. It’s a whirlwind of adrenaline-pumping, fear-heightening, and emotional moments, from prison jailbreaks to hostage situations to alien invasions. I was completely shocked to discover I was only at the halfway point when I had reached it, because so much had already happened that I couldn’t conceive of what else might occur.
I think the characters are what made this book be amazing as it is, because if they hadn’t been so intriguing and vibrant, I would have probably not cared about their plight at all. The balance between their own emotional turmoil (especially Kenzie’s and her view of the others since she was the narrator) and the non-stop action lent such a prevailing layer to the story as they dealt not only with the situations at hand, but the effects they were having on the characters and their relationships with the others.
Kenzie is a wonderful narrator and a character that I absolutely love, despite her flaws. She was definitely a little naïve in the beginning, a little blinded by her faith and trust in the company, Omnistellar, for whom she works and is a citizen of, but even then expressed some interest in testing the boundaries of their rules and regulations. And as the story progresses, and she learns more about the truth of things, despite how jarring and life-altering the revelations are, she remains strong and determined, doing whatever she can to protect the others. She does tend to have a lot of internal thought process at times, dealing with all the different discoveries she makes and the reactions of those around her – particularly her mothers’ – and while that felt a little time consuming at times, it wasn’t enough to deter from the momentum of the story itself.
Cage and the other prisoners are just as complex, with so many different histories and emotions creating a cast of characters that is wonderfully diverse and full of life. I loved Cage from the start, with his antihero personality and obvious care for those he calls family and friends. His relationships with his sister Rune and Kenzie are strong and amazing in the way they change and grow over the course of the novel, while also somehow remaining steady. The romance between Cage and Kenzie is excellent, to say the least, and despite how this all happens over the course of about twenty-four hours, I found it completely believable and full of such delightful chemistry. Rune is absolutely adorable, and I loved how kind she is to Kenzie despite the situation she and her brother had put her in, and how warm and caring she is to practically everyone, even if they don’t necessarily deserve it. I think of all the prisoners the only one I wasn’t a big fan of is Mia, who is very angry almost all the time and unnecessarily mean in many situations, with some exceptions. I know that this is because of her character and her given circumstances, but she is the second character in general I’ve read recently who is just b*tchy from the start and doesn’t seem to let up, with only some mild explanations for how she came to be this way. Other than that, though, I thought the rest of the secondary characters all had great personalities – and even though all of them weren’t brave or fearless, their emotions were definitely valid and completely understandable in the situations.
This book was such a complex and thrilling read, with so many things happening right after the other that I couldn’t put it down. The characters and their relationships are bright and strong, growing and ebbing throughout the novel as the action continuously progresses. There is a wonderful balance between the emotional turmoil of Kenzie discovering her world isn’t what she thought it was and the suspense of dealing with aliens on a prison space station for superpowered teenagers. I think the only flaws are the long bits of world-building all in the beginning and Kenzie’s sometimes lengthy internal thought processes. But otherwise, it is a great read, with plenty of questions left to leave me hoping for another book in the future.