Sanctuary by Caryn Lix (DRC): Corporations, Creepy Aliens, and Captive Guards

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4 stars

Prison-guard-in-training Kenzie’s dedication to the most powerful corporation in the solar system, Omnistellar Concepts, will falter, despite her life of training to become one of their elite guards. She would sacrifice anything to propel herself forward, but a routine drill goes sideways and she is taken hostage by rioting prisoners.

At first, she’s confident her commanding officer—who also happens to be her mother—will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. But she soon discovers that this is not the case.

As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize that a more sinister threat loomsfrom the vacuum of space. And Kenzie might have to team up with her captors to survive—all while beginning to suspect there’s a darker side to the Omnistellar she knows. 

This was such an awesome read!

I mean, first off, conceptually it’s such a great idea. Y’know I have a fondness for prison guards switching to the other side, as well as sci-fi, teens with mysterious superpowers, space, mysterious aliens, corporations, and all sorts of other science fictiony awesomeness.

And this reads like such an epic alien horror novel, in a non-tacky way! It’s not like that low budget alien horror movie with the laughable effects, but the super big expensive one that really makes you feel like you’re gonna be jumped by an alien any minute.

I loved the atmosphere, and it’s a really unique one that I haven’t really seen in YA before. I mean, alien horror just sounds totally amazing, doesn’t it? I was definitely on my toes for a lot of this and may or may not have glanced behind my shoulder once or twice (okay fine, multiple times).

And it was all so intense and the action scenes are the greatest! I was extremely thrilled while reading, and now I know that if I could have only one thing from Caryn Lix, it’d be her stellar action scenes! They are thrilling and engaging and not at all stunted or awkward sounding. They flow seamlessly and it’s like all this action is happening and you’re right there with the characters as an alien attacks you! So fun! (Who doesn’t love being attacked by aliens?)

I just had so much fun reading those parts, especially as the book got more and more intense and mysterious as it neared the end. I loved the pacing of the second half of the book, but I do think that the first half dragged a little too much for me. But despite it seeming lengthy in page count, I do need to add that I gobbled this up anyways and it didn’t really slow my reading experience.

It felt like Lix was dawdling a bit in the initial couple hundred of pages as she set everything up, and although I did love reading about Kenzie’s loyalty to the corporation, I think it was incorporated enough in the second half of the novel’s narrative enough that her loyalty would be established without the first half being so long.

It’s kind of like this novel is two pieces–establishing Kenzie’s corporate loyalties and setting this up, and then fighting aliens. I wanted these pieces to flow a little more smoothly together, which could have happened through condensing the first a bit.

The corporation theme is super cool and the only thing I wish was different is if it was maintained as a theme more strongly throughout the second half too. It ends up being used more as a motivator rather than something the characters actually want to change and fight against, and in this book it was like I was holding my breath, waiting for the corporation fightback that didn’t happen because aliens became an (unfortunate) thing.

My rating would have been a half star or two lower if I didn’t get confirmation from the author that there was going to be a sequel. There’s a lot of themes that I felt were left not fully explored and unresolved and I would not have been satisfied with this book if it was a standalone. So rest assured that there will be a book 2 next summer.

Which brings me to my (new) analysis of this book as the first of two–great job. Really great job of setting up the themes to be closed in book 2. (My reaction would be completely different if this was a standalone.) I definitely hope the characters will revisit corporatism, as well as some other themes in the novel like…

The aliens. How cool are these aliens? I mean, we don’t know that much about them still, but what we do know is really interesting and I love how Lix set them up in the scope of the whole universe. And they’re a vicious thing to fight against, which makes it really interesting.

These aren’t really your “Let’s contemplate if they’re friendly aliens!” type aliens, but I don’t really mind it. Maybe I’m in a warmongering mood (y’know, they did kill and kidnap a bunch of people from the start), but this type of alien murder touches in with my ruthless side.

And although the alien plotline is temporarily fixed for now, I feel like there’s a lot in store for the teens still, and there’s still a bunch of mysteries behind the aliens. So–cool beans, right? I hope we see more of that in book 2.

I have to admit, but I didn’t really read this for the characters. I read this for the corporations and alien fights and larger scope of the picture that’s more commonly found in adult sci-fi, so although the characters were fine and not irritating, I don’t really have much to say about them. Kenzie narrated the story well and the romance wasn’t really that invasive so I didn’t end up minding the attempts at character development. Not the book’s strong suit, but nothing terrible.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Sanctuary for all of the really exciting action scenes and badass alien fights. I’m really excited for Lix to begin exploring some of the more subtle and character based themes in book 2, and will definitely be reading the sequel next year!

If you love the sound of alien horror novels or something with fierce action scenes, then I definitely recommend you check out Sanctuary!

Thank you so much to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!

much love, vicky

Do you like “alien horror”? Which alien horror pieces (movies, books, etc.) would you recommend?

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