I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Sanctuary by Pauline Creeden
Series: Stand Alone
Published by AltWit Press on September 30, 2013
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Zombie
In a heart-racing thriller described as Falling Skies meets The Walking Dead, Jennie struggles to find a safe place for what’s left of her family. But it seems as though there is no place sacred, no place secure. First the aliens attacked the sun, making it dimmer, weaker, and half what it used to be. Then they attacked the water supply, killing one-third of Earth’s population with a bitter contaminate. And when they unleash a new terror on humankind, the victims will wish for death, but will not find it…When the world shatters to pieces around her, will Jennie find the strength she needs to keep going?
My Initial Reaction…
Well, wow! I picked up the Sanctuary blog tour because I had seen the book reviewed and thought it sounded good. But then time passed and I forgot what it was about or why I’d wanted to read it. And I didn’t read the blurb again, I just launched into it. And I didn’t stop. I keep renegotiating my bed time until it was 3am and I was finished. It’s that good – you will not be able to put it down!
Sanctuary is told from the point of view of three characters: Jennie, Hugh, and Brad. I was infinitely more invested in Jennie, but this is more her story than anyone’s, so that’s not a big surprise. I liked Hugh and found Brad annoying and maybe a bit superfluous. I did love having the three different points of view, because you get to see the alien attack unfolding in three different ways. And there’s the excitement I always get when you start to wonder if/when their paths will cross.
Jennie was a freshman in college when the aliens came and by the time the book starts, she’s nineteen and home for the summer. As a 19 year-old she’s at that place in her life where she’s trying to find her independence and become an adult, but at the same time, parts of her still cling to security of childhood. Throughout the book Jennie really grows as a character, constantly thrust into the position of caring for her 5 year old brother Mickey and forced to play the parental role. Pauline Creeden wrote the emotions that Jennie goes through so well; she’s strong, but she panics and she cries. It makes her incredibly believable and relateable as a character, almost to an eerie extent. Ultimately though, Jennie is one tough cookie that you can’t help but cheer on.
Hugh is a biology teacher from Jennie’s old high school, and though she never had classes with him, he knows her from one of her friends. She knows him, because everyone knew him as Hot Mr. Harris, but to her he’s old – a cringe worthy moment for me, since I’m Hugh’s age. Hugh provides an interesting vantage point to the attacks because he’s not as scared and in danger like Jennie. He’s safe and watching from a distance with the mindset of a scientific observer. What I liked about him was the way he clearly wanted to do something to help the situation at all times – he’s just one of those genuinely good guys.
Which is something his brother, Brad, most definitely is not. I enjoyed having Brad’s perspective early on, because he was at a Starbucks when the alien’s attacked. But besides that, I could have gone without being inside his mind. He’s a manipulative, self-centered, lying…. the point is his thoughts are rarely pleasant and I easily could have skipped them. Most the time they added little to the story and I could have figured out he was a jerk without actually seeing into his head.
There’s a strong group of secondary characters that come and go throughout the story and I enjoyed the way they were all written. They added a lot to the plot’s progression and didn’t bog it down at all.
Sanctuary is an intense read, almost from the first pages. You feel like your on the precipice of something happening with the aliens looming, having already wiped out 1/3 of the world’s population because of what they did to the water supply and sun, but then just sat in their ships doing nothing. When the gavel finally it drops, the action doesn’t let up.
This was my first zombie read. I know – what have I been waiting for? Well, I love the intensity, but I’ve never been one for gruesomeness. Sanctuary manages a perfect balance here. Yes, Creeden describes the zombies and what they’re doing, but not to a puke-worthy extent. And she does marvelous things with descriptions of sound and the elements, in a way that is so uniquely effective and bypasses the need for gorey descriptions.
I will note that there is a religious element to Sanctuary. It wasn’t something I was necessarily expecting and when I saw the quotes from Revelation right of the bat I got nervous, because I’m not a religious person and don’t tend to enjoy overly religious books. I think that anyone who is of a religious mindset would really enjoy those elements in Sanctuary, but I also don’t feel that they overwhelmed. If you aren’t religious, or have a different faith than Jennie, I don’t think that her own faith will bother you. It just fit into the story in a perfectly natural way that I found engaging.
Sanctuary is a fantastic read, full of great characters and a truly intense plot. Despite being a zombie book, Pauline Creeden has managed to write a story that isn’t gruesome at all and really could be enjoyed by adults and teens alike.