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I thought this book was well-written and well-paced. The world of the different afterlives is very interesting and unusual. The version of "angels" and "Judge" is a great twist on what I expected to find. The idea that these two girls had such a strong friendship that one would follow the other into Hell to save her friend after she has committed suicide is fascinating and intriguing. The lead character's background of sexual assault and neglect making her unable to even hug her friends is touching and creates some good tension as she attempts to learn to trust other people.
Unfortunately the book begins to devolve into sexist and cliched territory. Our luxuriously-haired teenage heroine doesn't have enough self-esteem to value her own life and doesn't think she is attractive or worthy of love. She meets The One, falls in love immediately and deeply, as does he - and he is able to break through her barriers in a very extremely short period of time. He saves her physically from monsters and thus she trusts him as no one else... and soon they are kissing and she is attracted to him sexually (despite her previous extreme fear of intimacy). They stop communicating their feelings and thus question each other's love and loyalty repeatedly, creating dangers that seemed easily avoidable. She rushes into danger all alone and has to be rescued. Her friend becomes an afterthought and is relegated to an abruptly easy afterlife and is conveniently pushed out of the story.
The plot never really lives up to the promise of the unique setting and world-building. The romance is too perfect, too quick, and too intense, as is typical of YA paranormal romances. That said, the writing is smooth and well-edited. The author's talent kept me reading while hoping desperately that the plot lines took more advantage of the action plots rather than the romance.
Audiobook version note: the narrator's mangled accent for Malachi make me wince. He sounds like a bad fake Russian Dracula.
30 of 30 people found this review helpful
I started reading this book before knowing anything about it so I was surprised when the story went from her regular school life to falling off a cliff and dying very early on in the story.
I generally like books/movies with strong female characters so this had promise. The main character Lela started out as physically and emotionally strong in the beginning, became wimpy, foolish and lovestruck towards the middle and deteriorated into a weak Disney princess at the end. She was so self-absorbed thinking everything was about her and constantly apologizing. Get over yourself - the world does not revolve around you. Her character started out as a 10 and ended up as a 2.
The supporting character who commits suicide, Nadia starts out interesting but ends up like a boring zombie. I had no interest whether she stayed in purgatory forever or not.
I would have liked the characters to be less cookie-cutter and more internally conflicted. The good guys are all good, the bad guys are all bad - there is nothing complex about them. The most interesting characters have a bit of both (think Breaking Bad).
Aside from the teenage melodrama and angst, the concept of the underworld was very interesting and the description of the houses, the people and how things worked were fascinating. The story line was exciting and moved quickly.
I was a little confused at the end of the book - like why the characters ended up where they did with that particular job. I like stories being wrapped up so that was good but I definitely had a moment of "Wait. What?" It seems like the finale was crow-barred.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
There’s a lot to like about Sanctum, not least of all the complex characters whose motivations we get to examine based on their passed experiences and how they cope with stress, abuse and the temptation of an 'easy' out. As main characters Lela and Malachi were so easy to relate to, and their chemistry simmers through the pages. This is also the first time I’ve read about a Latina heroine, not that her ethnicity makes a huge difference on plot and character within the story, but it made a change.I wasn’t a big fan of Nadia, as I couldn’t connect with her, but I did manage to feel compassion for her.
Sarah Fine does a wonderful job of explaining how severe depression can blind people like Nadia from the good things in their lives, so yes, I would definitely recommend this book to friends and actually have done so. One friend says she'd give it full stars, but the other wasn't as enamoured and said it was an ok read and would give it a three, personally I think my judgement's best ;)
In my opinion, the author’s background in psychology makes for some thought-provoking moments as the story progresses. Especially interesting is the conclusion to Lela’s quest to save Nadia, it’s a strong message to carry to anyone who has ever convinced themselves they are solely responsible for other peoples’ feelings and actions.
What did you like best about this story?
I loved the fast pace that took me by the hand and rushed me around the hellish suicide gate and into a city of desolate souls who are preyed upon by monsters. The story is dark, gritty and compelling. I did have to push aside my scepticism about Lela’s physical strength and fighting abilities against some of her stronger opponents, to enjoy the scraps that she manages to get inot and out of in the city, but once I suspended my disbelief I couldn't stop listening.
Which character – as performed by Amy McFadden – was your favourite?
Amy McFadden’s done a great job on the narration and I enjoyed the various voices she used, but it was actually as the monsters I thought she excelled. There was just a wonderful creepy tone to the characters, which brought the whole setting to life.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
It took a little over a day for me to listen to the whole story, because once I'd started I found myself pressing play at any spare moment I found.
Any additional comments?
The ending was a cliffhanger for the sequel, but just before that we get a very satisfying conclusion to the main part of the plot. So I'd suggest this book can even be read as a standalone. The sequel will pick up on a new story/mission that began at the end of Sanctum, and I’ll be keeping my eye out for that next instalment.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
very slow at the start but as it went further I was hooked
Sanctum is a fast paced, thrilling that captures your imagination and held you enthralled from beginning to the end, it's fast paced, thrilling and edge of your seat suspense that takes my breath away. The narrative is excellent, the only complaint i have is i wish there is a man narrator for Malachi as well. I highly recommend this audiobook and any Sarah Fine's audiobooksx