THE SANDCASTLE EMPIRE by Kayla Olson
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Eden’s world didn’t completely fall apart on Zero Day when she and all of the other kids at her private school were rounded up by the Wolves and sent to prison camp. The final blow came when they gave her a vial of her father’s blood and teeth. That was the moment that every whisper of of her old life vanished. She was alone. But when Eden and three strangers take the opportunity to flee their island prison, Eden knows exactly where she is going. She will follow the course set out in her father’s old notebook and find Sanctuary Island–the place free from the tyranny of the Wolves. As long as he completed his life’s work before he was murdered, they will find safety there. Unfortunately, “safe” is not the right word to describe the island they discover, and the unknown threats the travelers must survive may be just as treacherous as the prison they left behind.
I wasn’t overwhelmed by this new dystopia. It took me a little while to get into it and then lost me again by the end. Alternating chapters tell large chunks of backstory and the protagonist’s feelings, which I found off-putting. But for readers who aren’t as turned off by explication as I am, the actual real-time plot had plenty of action and mystery which will likely hook many sci-fi fans. It may appeal to Maze Runner readers.