Author: S L Grey
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Release date: 16th July 2015
Hardcover: Page Count: 342pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
S L Grey is a collaboration between Sarah Lotz and Louis Greenberg.
Run by Greg Fuller, The Sanctum is the hope of the future. Sarita, just a small child, looks for her missing toy in the Sanctum where she lives, but all she finds is a man in the dark, who is dead. The Sanctum is a refuge; a complex that stretches far down underground where those who live there can try to survive the virus that’s wiping out humanity ‘your own luxury survival condo (that) comes with pure peace of mind’.
Each chapter of the book is narrated from the point of view of one of its inhabitants. The first chapter, ‘written’ by Gina, gives the reader an insight into the spread of the virus and the new world her family hopes for when things ‘settle down’. The complex is self sustaining and it’s always night in the condo. A few months is all it will take for a cure, her Dad thinks. Gina’s not so sure. She stares at her twin brother Brett, thinking about how he’s changed over the last two years, hoping he’ll remember her.
The second narrator is Jae, a game playing teenager, in a bunker in Maine, who complains when the WiFi server is down. Having youths as narrators is incredibly refreshing and we see the new world through young eyes that aren’t happy with their new lot. The authors use Skype and other methods of social media for character interaction and exposition. Conflict comes early on with Jae (who’s Dad is Korean) meets Brett, who he terms Psycho Boy and immediately reacts angrily towards him.
Cait is an au pair working for Tyson looking after his daughter Sarita, following the death of her mother. All Cait wants to do is get back home to Africa, but the flights have been grounded. Soon, she too will be stuck below ground in the Sanctum. Where everyone seems to have a secret. The poignancy, fear and degrading hope is palpable throughout the narrative.
When the internet goes down and supplies start to run dry, the tension rackets another notch up.
I won’t say anything more, other than the end is superb and a lovely surprise that in retrospect makes complete sense. This is truly one of the best books I have read in a very long time and it is destined to be a cult classic. It is sure to also be an award winner and I predict a film in its future.
There are three books I’ve read in the last year that have stood out to me; The Death House by Sarah Pinborough, The Girl With all the Gifts by M. R. Carey and this. A magnificent taut read. Compelling.