Book Review: Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

by - 10:55:00 PM

 Title: Sanctuary Bay
Author: Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz
Pages: 320
Genre: YA Thriller
Release Date: 19 January 2016

From Goodreads: "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. In this genre-bending YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, Sarah's new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this "school" is something much more sinister."

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for inviting me to read this ebook via NetGalley! This has no way impacted my review.

This book immediately got my attention with the opening chapter. With every word that I read, I could really feel myself getting pulled into Sarah's shoes. It was almost like I was experiencing what she was going through with her, and I love books that are able to capture my interest almost immediately like that. While it is a tragic opening, it's one that is hard to forget, and I was really excited when I continued to read and came across that opening scene several more times. 

One downside to the book that I encountered was how Sarah immediately profiled people when she first met them. A lot of it had to do with her referring to their skin color, and that's something that bothered me a bit more than I was comfortable with. I don't care if a character is white, black, blue, or purple, but beginning of the book Sarah really seemed to focus on skin color. In fact, through most of the book, I forgot that Sarah was black/colored/African American. When I read, I like to focus on the story and what is happening to the characters, not what the color of their skin is. She also made multiple references to being "a poor orphan black girl" (or something along those lines) and that rubbed me the wrong way as well. Thankfully, that was only beginning of the book Sarah, and later in the book Sarah was much easier to deal with.

The book begins with Sarah Merson on a ferry to Sanctuary Bay, an elite prep school that is known to produce incredibly successful graduates. It's a dream come true for Sarah, an orphan who has bounced from foster home to foster home, carrying with her a less-than-perfect record. Sanctuary Bay is completely isolated and requires total immersion, making it feel like Swans Island is the only place in the world. Students aren't allowed to have any contact with any family or friends outside of the school and are only able to receive care packages every so often. As odd as the rules are, Sarah knows what a degree from this school could do for her future, so she tries to go into it with a positive mindset.

It takes a while to get into the "action" of the book, so to speak. There are bits and pieces here and there that make the school seem off, but nothing waves a huge red flag. At first. Once the book gets going, it doesn't stop until the last page, and it definitely left me hoping for a second installment!

Without giving too much away, this book was nothing like what I expected. I expected this to be a school for gifted kids, a typical secluded school plot. Boy was I wrong. The truth behind Sanctuary Bay is a lot darker and twisted than I imagined, and I loved it. I was searching for a book that kept me guessing, that kept me interested, and I found it. With every chapter, I was discovering something new about the real Sanctuary Bay, and it was a dark spiral downward with each discovery. 

All in all, I'm incredibly satisfied with this book, and am really hoping that there is a second installment so that I can continue to read about Sarah and her world! If you like YA thrillers with insane twists that you definitely don't see coming, I highly recommend reading Sanctuary Bay!


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