Sanctum : If you thought the idea of jury duty was terrifying before, wait until you meet this judge and his presiding city.
Color me impressed, Sarah Fine.
In the pages of Sanctum, one will find horrifying world building, a smoldering, sexy Hero, and some pretty messed up residents of a city that's not-quite-hell-definitely-not-heaven. Perhaps you could describe it as purgatory if only inhabited by suicides, but I'm not expert in that bit of theology.
The best thing about this book is it's originality. I guarantee you that you've not read anything like it. Very creative, very imaginative. You can tell Sarah is certainly an intelligent writer and probably a hefty reader. She knows how to tell a story. She's created interesting and very edgy characters. There is stuff of nightmares layered into her world building that was genius.
The nitty gritty of the story is that Lela's BFF has committed suicide and is in the not-so-great in-betweeny place. She has to save her. Even if that means going in after her. Ladies and gentleman, believe me when I say NO ONE would easily choose to go through the suicide gates after someone. She meets exactly one person who will help her in her mission. You'll like him a lot - he's probably the one very conventional character here - hot, strong, protective male - Malachi.
I stalled out about half-way through this read for several days and had a lot of time to chew on why that happened. Here's my conclusion:
Sanctum reads like a second book in a trilogy rather than a first book. It's full to brimming with misery, conflict and strife. It's like The Empire Strikes Back (kudos to me for a Star Wars reference!), where all the bad stuff happens to set us up for the triumphant Return of the Jedi. Except here, in Sanctum, we don't have the galactic battle of good vs. evil. Although this story keeps you turning the pages, we don't really have anything to root for, no 'greater' story. Just the journey of one brave girl to save her friend. Every side character we meet is either an enemy or miserable.
Because of this, even with the conflict that introduces us to Fractured, I'm not really sure why we should keep reading. I'm not totally invested yet.
Additionally, the purposed overriding theme of friendship was replaced by a romantic one, which was somewhat disappointing.
Despite this, I will read Fractured. One, I was graciously given an ARC copy. And two, perhaps the more important reason, Sarah Fine has shown real promise as an author and it's exciting to see if she'll grow and improve in the next installment.