Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: January 19th, 2016
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Blog Tour)
Genre(s): Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In this genre-bending YA thriller, will Sarah Merson’s shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?
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.
Special thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review, and for the opportunity to be on the blog tour!
I’ve mentioned before that I have a love for books set at boarding schools. There’s always mystery, intrigue, and thrilling plotlines! Sanctuary Bay did not disappoint on those aspects, and in fact, there’s a completely unexpected element to the story that made me like it even more!
The prologue of the book sets the ball rolling in a flashback scene that is filled with action, and leaves you wondering what the HECK just happened. It’s quite a way to start off a story! With Chapter One, the story flashes forward to the main character, Summer, who is now in foster care after her parents’ murder. She’s on her way to Sanctuary Bay Academy, an isolated and mysterious institution where she’ll stay for the rest of her high school career.
The history and lack of outsider information surrounding the school is enough to creep you out, and definitely created a “something fishy is going on here” vibe straight off the bat. I loved how the location used to be a WWII POW camp, AND THEN the home of a asylum. UM, if that’s not chilling, I don’t know what is! Plus, the fact that the students aren’t allowed to leave the island until after graduation? Yeah, CREEPY x 100!
The majority of the book reads like your typical boarding school mystery. I didn’t want to stop reading it just the way it was. BUT, the big excitement comes with the reveal toward the end. It’s a huge twist that I wasn’t expecting, and I really loved it! It turned the book into a sci-fi-esque read. It did seem to be a bit out of the blue, but I liked how the authors wove the current craziness together with the equally crazy history.
I did have one thing that really irked me: the characters. I liked Summer, but apart from her I just wasn’t a fan of the others. I felt like they weren’t well-developed. Also, the ending seemed to be quite abrupt. It was almost like after the big reveal, there was HUGE information dump. I didn’t get closure AT ALL. Maybe that means a sequel???
Sanctuary Bay was really a fun book! And it’s not your average boarding school read. Fans that love the boarding school setting, but are looking for the typical storyline to be shaken up a bit, Sanctuary Bay is for you!
Author Q&A with Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz!
Hi ladies! Thanks so much for being on the blog today to answer some questions. For those that don’t know what Sanctuary Bay is about, can you describe the book in five words or less?
Elite school filled with secrets.
The book is filled with mystery, romance, and science. Were there specific scenes that you liked writing more than others? Or specific characters?
We really liked writing all the scenes between Ethan and Sarah. It was fun creating that love/hate/sexual chemistry between them.
What was the process or strategy you both followed for writing the book as co-authors?
We’re all about the outline. We work together (online and on the phone since Laura’s in NY and Melinda’s in NC) to come up with a chapter-by-chapter and sometimes scene-by-scene breakdown. Then we split the book in half and start writing simultaneously, which we wouldn’t be able to do if we didn’t have such a detailed plan. Once we’re done, we each go through the whole book (multiple times), making whatever changes we want to. (We’re both former editors, and neither of us has a problem with being edited!) At some point, we have no idea who wrote what, but we’re ready to turn the book in.
The scientific aspects later on in the book were very interesting, and kind of scary! Did you both do research for those scenes, or were those ideas mainly fictional?
We did do some research on nanotechnology, but there’s also a lot of fiction in those scenes!
The ending was left pretty open… Can you tell us if there is a sequel in the works?
We never say never, but for now, Ethan, Sarah, and the others are on their own. We’re working on a new book for St. Martin’s Press. The main character has a little bit of Indiana Jones and a little bit of Star Wars’ Rey in her personality. Her parents (dad an archeologist; mom a doctor who works with Doctors Without Borders) are being held captive, and she has to find the pieces of an ancient artifact to have even a chance of saving them.
Doesn’t their next book sound amazing? Although I will say I’m a bit bummed that we’re left without a finite ending for Ethan and Sarah. A huge thanks again to both Laura and Melinda for answering my questions together!
About the Authors
Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz have written many books for teens and middle-grade readers, including the Edgar-nominated mystery series Wright and Wong and the YA novels Crave and Sacrifice. They have also written for the TV shows Roswell, 1-800-Missing, and The Dead Zone. Laura lives in New York and Melinda lives in North Carolina, but really they mostly live on email, where they do most of their work together.
Entrants must be 13 or older, or have parent permission. US & Canada residents only. A copy of the book is being provided by the publisher. St. Martin’s Press will handle sending the book to the winner.
Winner will be selected at random and will be contacted via email. The winner has 48 hours to respond to claim their prize before another winner will be chosen.