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Surviving the Feels

Every once in a long while there is a book that sweeps you away, and most recently, that book was The Sandcastle Empire. This book holds a top shelf in my Library of Fangirling, and a place close to my heart. The Literary Court has a new mandatory read.

While I will not force anyone to accept my views, I do ask that they read and discuss “mandatory reads”. What about The Sandcastle Empire marks it above the rest? What has tipped the scales of judgment in its favor? It is unique.

We’ve all ready dystopian novel (for better or worse) But what Kayla Olson does is fantastic! Building a world that is neither stereotypical nor cliché, or resembling The Hunger Games, she uniquely creates a living, breathing, and frightening realistic future.

Now, I will argue that not all capitalism is bad (some people have to make a living), and that money isn’t a bad thing to fight for, but it can (and will) corrupt people, wiggling into their soul and turning it black as a bottomless pit. People taking advantage of environment disasters? Absolutely possible (if not already realistic). That is what makes The Sandcastle Empire so frightening and real and amazing: It’s all plausible.

The Wolfpack creates Martial Law, something that is real, and that’s where we start.

Synopsis from Harper Teen:

Before the war, Eden’s life was easy. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed.

Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. And even though Eden has lost everything to them, she 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.


Tell me what’s not to love about that description! Okay, so there is a bit of romance… but I didn’t mind it (and you know how I feel about insta-love, romance, etc). This book is like Indiana Jones (adventure) meets Island of Doctor Moreau (science), and you can’t stop turning the page (even at 1 in the morning). The characters showcase Kayla’s skill in crafting believable personalities and fears (yes, fears!). Each of them are relatable in their own way, each are glimmers of people we know, and it’s very easy to become attached. Don’t! Because you don’t know what’s lying in wait around the corner, pass that tree, over that ridge…

The suspense is never short lived, there are themes and threads pulled in every scene, even when you think you know what’s coming. Again, applause for the craft of this debut book. *Is it a debut? I wouldn’t be able to tell. The Sandcastle Empire ranks up there with Caraval for debut releases this year— and that statement does not come lightly from my lips.

What I have been trying to say is, The Sandcastle Empire blew me away and garnered 5 stars— a crown of my everlasting favor and praise. Even if I cannot tell you why exactly. But that’s what any great book will do. It will wrap around your heart and tug you under, it nestles under your skin and stays with you— even if you don’t have a good reason.




*also… Did I mention Cover Envy? Because this book is BEAUTIFUL! (and I heard it’s white with shiny green lettering!) PS. Book Dragon shirt by The Avant Market on Etsy



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