Aboard Sanctuary – the maximum-security prison owned by the corporation Omnistellar Concepts, which hosts some of the most enhanced and dangerous teenagers as prisoners – Kenzie Cord is extremely proud of her corporate citizenship to Omnistellar, her loyalty to its cause, and her position as a junior guard. She has trained her whole life to prove herself to be not only a stellar example of a corporate citizen, but also to achieve her goal of becoming an elite guard aboard Sanctuary. Excelling at her training, working hard at both her homework and her shifts as a junior guard, and proving herself capable at handling random drills that Omnistellar launches to keep the guards permanently aware, Kenzie’s future appears as bright as the stars Sanctuary floats among.
That all abruptly changes one night after Kenzie is taken hostage by the rioting prisoners, who have somehow managed to infiltrate and manipulate the allegedly rigid structure of Sanctuary in their favor. Despite the demanding protocol that would prefer Kenzie’s sacrifice at the prisoners’ hands than an attempt at securing her freedom, Kenzie is sure that her commanding officer – her mother – would stop at nothing to get her back. Eventually, it’s proven that Commander Cord’s loyalty is first and foremost to Omnistellar before her own daughter, and Kenzie must find her own way out.
However, it soon becomes apparent that the prisoners holding her hostage are the least of Kenzie’s worries. An evil entity has emerged from the void of space and boarded the ship, and now it’s on the hunt for them. Guard and prisoner must now combine their efforts to survive and escape Sanctuary, which now, contrary to its name, has become the most dangerous place they could possibly be. All the while, Kenzie learns that there is something much more sinister and horrifying underlying everything she thought she knew about Omnistellar.
A thrilling blend of sci-fi fantasy and horror, Caryn Lix’s Sanctuary left me with only one word resonating in my mind: Whoa.
Now that my post-read thought-process is more or less cohesive, this novel was not messing around, and it made that abundantly clear right from the first page. I was captivated almost immediately from the first word, and would have devoured the entire book in one sitting had I not had to tend to my weekend responsibilities. On top of how quickly I was consuming the contents of this story, every time I thought ‘this was the climax’ of the novel, Lix would consistently prove me wrong with a brand new twist more surprising than the last, forcing my mind to come to a grinding halt to ask myself … ‘What on Earth just happened?’
Imagine my surprise when I rediscovered Sanctuary is actually the first in a series. The novel may be finished, but the story is far from over! Caryn Lix is likely going to have my undivided attention once her sequels start hitting the shelves.
As I read, I found it incredible how much I grew to care for the characters Lix introduced in such a short period of time, especially the superpowered teenagers residing in Sanctuary: Cage and Rune, a brother-sister duo with powers of speed and manipulating and/or bonding with electricity, respectively, Alexei, a burly Russian teen with pyrokinetic abilities, Mia, a temperamental girl who can turn invisible at will, Matt, who can sense human life, and more. There was such a wide cast of characters at play here, and each of them managed to prod at my emotions at some point, some hitting a lot harder than others.
Personally, I felt that reading Sanctuary was reminiscent of how I felt watching both Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) and Phillip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), if that’s any indication of what to expect when reading this novel (as well as introducing some possible spoilers). A young adult science-fiction novel, set in the mysterious environment of space, Sanctuary enthralls you and does not relinquish its grip until you reach the last page. I highly recommend this book to any hardcore sci-fi fan.
Caryn Lix’s Sanctuary is now available for purchase.