Before we get started, let's learn a little bit more about the book...
SANCTUARY BAYAuthors: Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: January 19, 2016
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.
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.
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Rating: 4/5 stars
I thought this one was going to be more like SHUTTER ISLAND or X-Men, but I really liked the way that it turned out. I thought there was a bit too much convenience about how it played out but I liked that Sarah and Ethan made it all work to their advantage.
I saw from reviews on Goodreads that there was a twist, so I was anticipating a bit of a supernatural/paranormal twist rather than a psychological one. Especially with Sarah having the memory she did, I thought maybe it was going to be like X-Men and this was a special school for people with awesome abilities, but nope. And then the whole Wolf Pack thing happened and I was like WHAT.
I thought the whole Wolf Pack thing was pretty strange, I'm not going to lie. But the whole mystery aspect and psychological thriller part was really intriguing to me so I continued reading. And I was pleasantly surprised with what I read. I liked figuring out part of the mystery along with Sarah but I had a lot of it kind of determined before it was actually told to us.
I really liked the relationships that Sarah develops, especially with Ethan, who I loved. And the friendships were great. I really liked that there was so much emphasis on the roommate relationship and being friends with people because it made the school feel real. But I really just liked Ethan. Especially once we learned about his past and his motives, I just felt my heart leap for him.
I actually really enjoyed this one. I thought the twist and weirdness came out of nowhere but it was well thought out and made sense. I liked Sarah and I liked Ethan. I think it was really well done. I'm also glad it was a standalone but I would love to see more of what the two of them are going to do in the future. I highly recommend this one.
Where Do You Find Inspiration For Your Characters?
We’re sort of like magpies as far as finding inspiration for our characters. We might take a way of dressing from a celeb, a favorite expression from a stranger we overheard while waiting in line for a movie, and a personality trait from a high school friend.
But a lot of what we end up with for our characters comes from the kind of story we’re telling. For instance, in Sanctuary Bay, we wanted Sarah to be a girl with no real ties, someone who would welcome the chance to go to the elite—yet odd--school, even though it meant cutting off all contact with everyone in her old life for two years.
We also knew that she would have horrific memories of her parents’ deaths, memories that because of her unusual brain structure would come back to her again and again as vividly as if they are still happening. (And why did we give her that unusual brain structure? Well, we don’t want to give that away, but it also plays a part in the story, beyond making her parents’ deaths even more painful.)
So then we thought about what a girl with that childhood—and that brain—would be like. Her parents were dead, and since we didn’t want her to have any family ties, we figured that as an orphan she would be put into the foster system. And because of her memory issues, we thought she’d have been severely misunderstood, that people would blame her memory “surges” on drugs or mental illness. This would prevent her from staying in one foster family for long. It would really limit the kind of relationships she would form, and how she’d interact with people, how much she’d be able to trust.
So before we even got to Sarah as a teenager, we already knew a lot about her. Then as we threw her into new situations, we figured out how she would react, how she’d change—or refuse to change. Because we knew her so well already, we knew exactly how she would behave and feel. In other words, we had a character!