This is the third and final book in Caryn Lix’s Sanctuary series. I had such a blast with the first book that I immediately picked up the second, but my expectations must have been way too high, and my interest in how the series would conclude mostly evaporated after it really fell short. Now that I’ve finally finished the adventures of Kenzie Cord and her escaped prisoners, it’s safe for me to say Caryn Lix is better at telling the story of a breakout rather than the story of a fugitive.
Kenzie Cord has been through hell in the blink of an eye. She should’ve maybe been prepared for a fair bit of danger when she agreed to be a soldier on Sanctuary, a maximum security prison in space, for the corporation that has taken care of her and her parents for ages, Omnistellar. A riot and takeover took place that had Kenzie realize the company hunts down anyone and everyone with special powers that could one day be used to…overrun them if they wanted. It took a big wakeup call, but Kenzie got the prisoners out after battles with strange aliens who had gotten themselves in the prison, and then the gang travelled to Mars and to a black market spaceship called Obsidian…and before it could blow up, Kenzie was able to latch onto the superpowers of a rogue boy named Liam, and transport her and her new family…somewhere. Some kind of desert.
The gang ends up fortunately finding an abandoned city with a few remaining resources…but what planet is it? It could be Earth but there are some things that don’t quite resemble it. And what’s the state of the Resident-Evil-esque aliens that have been terrorizing them? The gang find some dwellers low on supplies who have been scrounging for years, no spaceship to escape the planet and no backup to go off of. Kenzie and her gang might be able to get them out once and for all and the survivors might be able to get them back to their home, wherever it is, but are her new allies all they say they are?
What I didn’t like about the last book, Contagion, was it didn’t do enough to make us feel like these characters were having to run from a huge corporation that owned most of the police force across space, nor what their plans were on finding a way to stay free. It didn’t quite seem to have that feeling of “We did it, we’re actually free and we have to do everything we can to stay that way.” And normally I encourage books to have characters sensitive to their surroundings, but Kenzie often retreated to unwarranted guilt over every single mishap her group has gotten into (it’s clearly far from all her fault) that got in the way of the suspense way too much. I loved the first book and gave it three and a half stars out of four for its non-stop thrills of prisoners taking over the surrounded penitentiary, but the sequel disappointed me so much I gave it a grade two whole stars lower. While this book also doesn’t have the sense it’s a fugitive story, a fugitive story being what I was hoping for, it does present ideas I didn’t expect with some more suspenseful action, with the guilt factor toned down a fair bit.
Once some time had gone by and the characters were still stranded in this desert, I accepted this book wouldn’t have too much adventure throughout the galaxy that is human-commandeered in this world. I was hoping when I started this book that that wouldn’t be the decision, but if you’re up for eventually accepting it and that these protagonists can only do so much since they are human (with superpowers, but still human) it might not be a deal breaker.
The ending is satisfactory. In fact, it turns really great when there’s a character who suggests being a little mischievous. Don’t want to spoil what I mean. In the end, Salvation is neither a bad book nor a good one. It still pales in comparison to the first book Sanctuary, and there’s a lot more we wish we could explore in this world. I’m hoping the next teen book I read about escaping jail will be better. But the series overall is a not-too-bad time if you’re a teenager trying to get into reading for the first time.
If you like this, I’d try Renegades by Marissa Meyer and the Michael Vey books