When all hope is gone, how do you survive? Before the war, Eden’s life was easy—air conditioning, ice cream, long days at the beach. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed. Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. Eden has lost everything to them. They killed her family and her friends, destroyed her home, and imprisoned her. But Eden refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores. Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves—but the solace is short-lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected. This island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom.
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What I Loved:
The Sandcastle Empire is a book that surprised me in so many good ways. The mystery and intrigue of Sanctuary Island was one of the things I didn't expect to love so much. This is one of those times when the setting becomes a character of its own and that thrilled me to no end. I loved not knowing what the island was hiding or how things worked. Every step towards uncovering its secrets had me at the edge of my seat, crossing my fingers that no harm would come to my new friends, but at the same time that things would come to happen (and they do!).
The world in The Sandcastle Empire is a terrifying future that we might come to live, dominated by people who keep a strong hold in our world's resources, calling themselves Wolves. What was interesting for me to learn about was how the main character's father is one of the people to blame for how things turn out, as he discovered a way to adapt cities even when the environment is trying to drown us out. His intentions are well-meant, but those who have the power use it for their own ways and incite a war from those who could not afford.
"Fear mixed with bitterness never ends well, and fear mixed with power? Ends world."
My copy of The Sandcastle Empire is full of sticky notes highlighting my favorite passages. Kayla Olson has an amazing voice and her wise thoughts had me nodding constantly and falling deeper in love with the book. Some made me tremble, some lifted my soul, but all of them equally significant:
"If there's one thing I'm learning, it's that possibility won't be confined to a cage. It will bend bars, break locks, and fly away when you're not looking."
Oh, but I loved how effortlessly Kayla Olson would switch timelines in her book, from present-day to the main character's memories before the war, and how those memories at the end would relate to what Eden was going through at the moment. Like life lessons that apply to certain moments no matter the time and place. I think that's my favorite thing about The Sandcastle Empire, a style I rarely enjoy in books yet it drew me in completely in this one.
Lastly, I must not forget to mention how much I loved the characters. They were all so interesting and fierce, driven by their need to survive and adopting whatever measure they needed in order to escape the world they were thrown in. You must meet them!
The Sandcastle Empire is a book I cannot recommend enough and one that should be read by everyone. The awesome thing is that it's a standalone novel so your journey starts and ends here, but I promise it will leave you thinking right after you turn the last page.