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Sanctuary Bay: A Novel Hardcover – January 19, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Within the grounds of a seemingly perfect prep school, Burns and Metz reveal a world of violence and secrets. Sarah Merson is an orphan with a freakishly perfect memory. There are a lot of things she'd rather forget, and she has much to learn when she is unexpectedly accepted into a prestigious boarding school on a remote island in Maine. At Sanctuary Bay Academy, the people are beautiful, the academic expectations are high, and the risks are, literally, life and death. After being swept into an even more secret society within the school, Sarah soon discovers that what lies beneath the pristine exterior is a rocky foundation of blood, bones, and a cruel conspiracy that may even reach from beyond the grave. Genuinely enjoyable from start to finish, this novel would lend itself most fully to those who enjoy gritty, grotesque exposés of superficially perfect people and places. The authors successfully create an intricate environment on the isolated island, and readers will likely find it just as easy to become immersed in the plot as the characters become immersed in the school itself. The protagonist self-identifies as coming from a racially mixed and ambiguous background, which lends itself to the character's sense of alienation and "otherness." VERDICT A quickly captivating account of an outsider's new life inside a world of prestige, pleasure, and pain and her struggle to find acceptance and herself and to survive.—Emily Grace Le May, Providence Community Library, RI
"An intriguing thriller that pairs YA romance with sci-fi danger in a creepy, Gothic-like setting (foggy island with a crumbling insane asylum, anyone?), this book is a white-knuckle read that pushes envelopes and makes the reader question everything, right along with Sarah." - USA Today's Happily Ever After blog
"Genuinely enjoyable from start to finish, this novel would lend itself most fully to those who gritty, grotesque exposés of superficially perfect people and places. A quickly captivating account of an outsider's new life inside a world of prestige, pleasure, and pain and her struggle to find acceptance and herself and to survive." - School Library Journal
"This mash-up of private-school lit meets mystery novel meets conspiracy theory should keep readers guessing as the horror continues to mount. Elizabeth LaBan’s The Tragedy Paper (2013) and Jenny Hubbard’s Paper Covers Rock (2011), with their elite-school settings and dark secrets, would both make interesting companion reads." - Booklist
"Burns and Metz, who have collaborated on Crave and other titles, build a suspenseful and satisfying narrative full of subtly creepy details...teetering between a psychological study of teenage peer pressure and an over-the-top horror flick." ―Publishers Weekly
"The book is good entertainment...fun." ―Kirkus Reviews
“There's no escaping it. This story hooks you from page one and refuses to let go. Not that readers will want to be anywhere other than glued to Sarah Merson's side as she races to expose the sinister forces threatening to destroy everything good in her new life. Deliciously suspenseful, Sanctuary Bay is a twisted thriller brimming with dark secrets.” ―Barbara Stewart, author of The In-Between and What We Knew
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Top Customer Reviews
When I started the book, I wasn't sure how I would like it, but I LOVED it. The book brings the main character Sarah--an orphan who's never had much--to the prestigious school of Sanctuary Bay on a scholarship. The school is mostly full of children of wealthy socialites and other uber successful people, so naturally, Sarah feels a little jaded and like a misfit. But this is her opportunity to have a better life, so she takes it. The school is like living on a collage campus, except they have the extravagance of technology that most schools don't. The buildings are posh and everything seems like a dream, except once the kids attend there, they stay there through all of high school, and neither them or the staff are allowed to leave. Ever. Oh, and it's built on an island, isolated from society, sits over an old POW camp from WWII, and is on the same premises as an abandoned psych ward. *Cue creepy Psycho-slasher music.*
As you read further into the book, you discover that there is a secret society on campus, which Sarah, incidentally gets invited to join. But soon, there's a murder, and she finds that the little family she's developed through this society at Sanctuary Bay isn't all that it seems. It turns out the school has some majorly dark secrets. I don't want to say more because it will spoil the book, but it was sooooo good! If you're not afraid of a book with a bit of a dark side and like psychological thrillers, you'll love it. If you've seen the movie The Skulls and loved it, this book is a safe bet. One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest is a hint at what is really going on at Sanctuary Bay, but I'll leave it at that.
Buy this book. It was so different than anything I've read in a long time. I loved every second of it and I'm truly hoping there is a sequel!!!
*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review, which I have given.
A good thriller can be hard to come by, especially young adult thrillers. It just seems to be difficult to come across a carefully crafted, truly gripping novel that will pull you in and keep you reading until the end. Sanctuary Bay is one of those rare beauties that you just won’t be able to get enough of! There simply aren’t enough books like this one.
Let’s see…boarding school, secret societies, a creepy abandoned asylum…there are plenty of elements in this book that all tie together quite amazingly and make for a chilling read…coupled with interesting characters, a mystery, and a well written plot that will be sure to keep your attention.
While I’ve never attended boarding school, I have seen multiple horror movies (albeit most of them pretty terrible, but sometimes that’s what makes them good, right?) about boarding schools, and they’ve always had a sort of creepy allure to them that always seems like a great place for a horror story. I haven’t read a lot of thrillers with a boarding school as the setting, so Sanctuary Bay was on my list of books that I was incredibly excited for. I hadn’t read any reviews about this book, because I didn’t want to get a biased opinion of it before I even started reading…and let me tell you, this was simply one of the most amazing thrillers I’ve read in a while, and I can’t wait to read it again. The authors know how to create exciting characters that bring the story to life, and they were so enjoyable to get to know. The secret society aspect of it added to the book’s creepy-factor, and there was a great ending that you can’t even imagine until you read the book for yourself (and I’m not giving it away, because it’s a good one!).
Let’s talk a little about the actual plot of the book, shall we?
Sarah Merson has had a difficult life. Blessed (or cursed?) with a photographic memory, Sarah can remember pretty much everything from her childhood – including the day her parents were killed. Since then, she has been in foster homes, and has never had the kind of life that other kids take for granted. One day, she receives an invitation to attend Sanctuary Bay Academy, a special school that pretty much gives whoever goes there the chance to get into whatever college they want. Baffled, Sarah tries to research the school, but can find no information about it, even online. While Sarah is sure there must be some mistake (her grades aren’t that exceptional), she decides to go along with it and hope for the best. When she gets there and realizes that there was no mistake, and that she has indeed been accepted into Sanctuary Bay, she is over the moon – a chance at a new life, and something wonderful for once.
She immediately makes friends, and soon after that, is invited to join a secret society known as the Wolfpack. At first, the “missions” they are tasked with seem harmless (such as kissing a roommate’s boyfriend), and Sarah loves feeling included and important, for the first time in her life. But soon after, things start to seem a little strange. One night, the group plans to take things a little far, and the next day, Sarah seems to be the only one who remembers any of what they did the night before. Sarah starts to become a little confused about what could possibly be going on, and starts to wonder if the Wolfpack is as harmless as it once was, or if something else is going on.
During the book, Sarah has flashes of memories, usually brought on by outside experiences that remind her of them. These are scattered throughout the book – the most important one being of the day her parents were killed.
Although the ending of the book seemed a little bit rushed, it didn’t really bother me, because it was really well done and tied everything together nicely. The pacing in this book was perfect for being a thriller – there really weren’t any dull or boring moments.
Sanctuary Bay is a delightfully creepy and exciting thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat from the first chapter through the very last page!
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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My Rating: 4/5 stars
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