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.
A thrilling mystery that takes readers to a mysterious school
Sarah Merson is used to a world of Goodwill and foster homes, and the new, prestigious school she’s been accepted to, Sanctuary Bay, is a world she’s never experienced before with its privilege, secrets, and isolation. As Sarah dives deeper into the school’s mystery ways, her roommate goes missing, and no one is prepared for the truth.
What I Loved:
Sarah is a wonderfully rounded character, though her development leaves something to be desired. She is aware of her own history and strongly carries the weight with her every day. She isn’t afraid to speak out against unfair privilege, and her sense of justice is incredible. The mystery of Sanctuary Bay is thrilling, and even as the clues added up, there is no clear guessing at how it will be all end.
What Left Me Wanting More:
While both potential love interests, Nate and Ethan, seem swoony, her relationship to both boys feels awkward and does not mesh as well into the story as it could have. There isn’t a strong sense of connection between Sarah and either boy, and at several times, the romance feels more distracting to the story than weaving into it. However, readers who enjoy a momentary pause for a little romance may still enjoy Ethan and Nate as the mystery plot thickens.
While the mystery behind Sanctuary Bay does get wrapped up at the end, the answers are almost a little less satisfying than they are built up to be. However, readers who dislike ambiguous endings will enjoy the resolution.
While the ending and characterization fall a bit short, SANCTUARY BAY is a thrilling mystery that will leave readers skeptical of all isolated schools and secret societies who emphasize group activities to the extreme.
Sanctuary Bay was a title I was really excited to read and I admit that I hate that I pushed this to the back of my queue due to the release date (I had received an invite to read this last year). As someone just getting into the thriller genre, I wanted to add something new to the list. Before reading, I decided to read through a few of the negative reviews this book was getting. One of the main issues that I noticed was that some people were confused. This made me pay extra attention to this book to see where one could start getting confused, but let's start with the things that I really liked.
The main character, Sarah, is what I would understand to be a "nobody" (please mark the quotes because it is not meant to insult anyone living in her reality); she doesn't have a family or a home and she's shipped off to some school she never applied to. It happens to be one of the best schools with the ability to bring on success in her future -- something she really wanted to accomplish for herself, which I admire completely. Her drive after the crap life she'd been living is something to desire, really. Sarah's memory is also something to desire... just not in the way she experiences it, but it gives her an edge and proves to be an amazing quality to have in the story (sometimes).
Each of Sarah's friends were well done, giving great support to someone who lived in a way completely opposite of what their lives supposedly were. Though I'm sick of the whole absolutely hot, gorgeous, perfect girls when it comes to schools, they didn't continue to follow the bitchy, bully types, and instead became immediate friends with Sarah.
My favorite of the story is the mystery and suspense behind everything. The more things that happened, the more excited I got... Especially because I come up with my own logical conclusions only to find they were either right or wrong (and wrong conclusions made me want to read more to find the truth). With that said, a majority of negative reviews that claimed confusion could have aroused from when the mysteries started to become revealed, though I never found myself confused once. Let's start with what I didn't like (really, it's only one thing), which contains a spoiler.
The fact that Sarah made some bad decisions when she is actually extremely smart irked me a bit. I mean, if I was told in order to join a society, I'd have to drink blood, my ass would have been GONE. Who, in their right mind, would do something like that? I get that because of Sarah's past, she is inclined and, really, susceptible to doing crazy things in order to have people like her, but man, that's too far for me.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and didn't want to put it down. It was exhilarating, full of mystery, and just downright engaging. I actually lost track of time yesterday reading this and fell behind on chores I was supposed to do. Please tell me there is a sequel to follow where it ended because I'd really like to see what happens in the aftermath.