I have book ADD, I really do. Even when I like a book, by the time I reach the second half, I get impatient, eager to be done with it and be free to discover a new world. It's a definite downside of having so many books to choose from, and it's something I need to work on.
Therefore, I was more than a little surprised by the enormity of my despair when I reached the last page of Sanctum. It's rare that a book leaves me desperate for more. Sarah Fine's rich and imaginative world, although grim and depressing, captivated me entirely. She almost (but not quite, I'm not crazy) made me want to visit Suicide City and look around for myself. It is where suicide victims end up, condemned to wander the city, lost in their own despair. Can you imagine a more hopeless place in this world or the next? And for the very few conscious enough to want to escape or cause trouble, there are the guards, merciless creatures led by a human, their fearless Captain, Malachi.
Enter Lela, a worthy, if somewhat unconventional heroine. She came to Suicide City willingly, to save he best and only friend, not knowing what she might have to do, but ready for any kind of sacrifice. From the very first page of Sanctum, the readers know they won't be getting a Mary Sue: she smokes, she curses, and she beats up bullies with terrifying ease. It takes a while for her tender side to be revealed, but she is lovable from the very start.
And Malachi... oooops, there goes my dignity! I haven't felt so strongly about a fictional character since Sean Kendrick and I doubt I will anytime soon. With his warmth and Lela's unflinching bravery, it's no wonder they're my new favorite couple. Which brings me to the girl I can't stop thinking about - Lela Santos. Some would say she's damaged beyond repair, and in some ways, they'd probably be right. But there's so much love and hope in her, despite not having had an ounce of luck her entire life.
Sanctum is a dark, dark book, and although most of it happens in this hellish, unreal place, the horrors described are very real. Brief glimpses of Lela's past were more than enough to make me want to run the other way, but I guess I absorbed some of her astonishing bravery because I kept reading even when it made me sick. This is where I truly applaud Fine; a lesser writer would have chosen a safer, less controversial road, especially when writing for young adults, but I could tell that Sarah Fine doesn't believe in pulling any punches, and I admired her for it.
I'm sorry, guys, I'm very much aware that this review is all over the place. It was hard for me to put into words how much I loved this book. On December 6th, Sarah will share Malachi's journal entries on several blogs, including The Nocturnal Library, so make sure to stop by. If you haven't met Malachi yet, you'll definitely want to after that.
Brava, Ms. Fine! I'm thoroughly impressed.show more
by Gael Murray