I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson
Published by Harper Collins on June 6, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
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 the 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.
I don’t read as many dystopian stories as I used to, but The Sandcastle Empire reminded me of why I always enjoyed this subgenre. World building is key and I found that is was a world that seemed near and plausible, which was chilling. The people who had less grew tired of the increasing income gap and staged a worldwide rebellion and within minutes, the world as Eden knew it was transformed into an existence of fear and pain. The story opens as Eden escapes her harrowing existence and we only find out about what she has been through because of flashbacks. I didn’t mind the somewhat abrupt beginning because the action starts almost immediately and as the details trickle in, you become eager to learn more about how the past figures into Eden’s present. As Eden escapes, she ends up with three other girls who all bear the weight of their secrets and pain. Those secrets hang between them, though, and I definitely got the sense that all was not as it seemed.
As soon as they reach the island, the twists begin and don’t stop. The Sandcastle Empire was pretty brutal in places. There was no shying away from the harsh environment of the island or the enemies that lurked just out of sight. (On a side note, it’s a great book for getting survival tips!) While Eden tries to follow her father’s journal and lead them all to a safe place, deceptions, lies, and even disappearances start to erode the small amount of trust the group manages to build. The way that characters and introduced with subtle clues that something isn’t quite right was very well done. By the time Eden starts to uncover the truth, I didn’t know who to trust, which made the story a lot of fun to read. While many questions were answered, there is still a lot I would like to explore in this world. Although it works as a stand alone, I am hoping for another book because I think the island has more secrets that need to be revealed!