Title: The Sandcastle Empire
Author: Kayla Olson
My Rating: 3 stars
I received this book in an Owlcrate box earlier this year and while I really wanted to love it, I found it very confusing to read and understand. Despite that, it was an interesting take on a dystopian world and one that could be potentially better as a film.
When all hope is gone, how do you survive?
Before the war, Eden’s life was easy—air conditioning, ice cream, long days at the beach. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed.
Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. Eden has lost everything to them. They killed her family and her friends, destroyed her home, and imprisoned her. But Eden refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores.
Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves. But their solace is short-lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected.
This island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom.
This book had a really good premise: a girl who is trying to find a sanctuary from a world gone bad. There are so many ways this book could have gone and while I don’t hate the way it went, I am still confused about the world the characters were living in and how it all would have continued on past the end page.
Eden is the main character, and after being stuck in what appear to be gulags in a world run by the Wolf Pack, she escapes, searching for Sanctuary, a place her father left hints to. She is determined to reach it, and after escaping she is left with three other girls, who help her make her way to the island. As they explore the island, they are met by a group of boys from the resistance and are swept up into a world of intrigue and confusion.
Confusing right? Well, probably not to you from that paragraph but I am still not convinced that I understood the book properly. The problems with writing a dystopian book is that you have to let the reader know the rules of the world and you want to avoid the information dump in the first few characters. What the author chose to do with this book is tell you bits and pieces about the world through different chapters and it caused a lot of confusion for me as I didn’t figure out halfway through the book why they needed Sanctuary. Not a great sign. There were also a lot of key words to describe groups of people, and throughout the book they changed. For example, there was the Wolf pack, holo-Wolves, the Resistance and then in the last third of the book there was mention of the Allied Forces. I feel like every time I picked up this book, I completely had to reorient myself with the story and dystopian world again. It just wasn’t well put together, even though the writing was pretty lovely in most parts.
I liked the two main characters, Eden and Lonan, and I particularly liked how Lonan was so friendly and strong, as well as understanding Eden and her capabilities – I could read more about the two of them. I would have liked to see a bit more depth to the other characters, apart from just hearing a little bit about each of their lives Before the Wolves took over. I feel like this could have been used as a better story device to explain what the Before was and how they all ended up where they ended up. I know we got some of it, but it would have been good to read more.
While the whole book was confusing and nothing was explained very much, I feel as though it ended in an alright spot. It’s a standalone book, so there won’t be anymore to it, but it concluded in a spot that left hope for the future. All in all, not a terrible book, but not a great one either.
Recommended for: Dystopian lovers and those who like books that are based around those fighting awful circumstances.
Quotes (Spoiler Free):
“Survival is fighting, every single day, to climb out of the ruins and into the unknown, come what may.
We are all as strong as we have to be.”
“It’s the forgetting that’s the hardest. And the remembering, too.”
“I imagine the Wolves are sandcastles, easily crushed and easily washed away. I imagine there will be a day when they are nothing but a memory.”
“Your mind is stronger than your circumstances. Remember that.”
I was disappointed with this book, but I’m sure other people have enjoyed it! Have you ever read a book that you didn’t love, but other people have? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time,