Alien meets Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds in this thrilling debut novel about prison-guard-in-training, Kenzie, who is taken hostage by the superpowered criminal teens of the Sanctuary space station—only to have to band together with them when the station is attacked by mysterious creatures.
Kenzie holds one truth above all: the company is everything.
As a citizen of Omnistellar Concepts, the most powerful corporation in the solar system, Kenzie has trained her entire life for one goal: to become an elite guard on Sanctuary, Omnistellar’s space prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. As a junior guard, she’s excited to prove herself to her company—and that means sacrificing anything that won’t propel her forward.
But then a routine drill goes sideways and Kenzie is taken hostage by rioting prisoners.
At first, she’s confident her commanding officer—who also happens to be her mother—will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. Yet it soon becomes clear that her mother is more concerned with sticking to Omnistellar protocol than she is with getting Kenzie out safely.
As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize there’s a more sinister threat looming, something ancient and evil that has clawed its way into Sanctuary from the vacuum of space. And Kenzie might have to team up with her captors to survive—all while beginning to suspect there’s a darker side to the Omnistellar she knows.
As the story opens on the prison facility–spaceship known as Sanctuary, 17-year-old Kenzie is all that stands between a gang of suddenly free, superpowered teen inmates and the universe. Her mother, the ship’s commander, is wounded or dead, and it appears that Sanctuary is also under attack from an alien presence. Amidst this chaos, Kenzie discovers she has been a different sort of prisoner aboard Sanctuary and that the “bad guys” might not be so bad after all. First-time author Lix creates an energetic novel that dispatches the adults early so that the superpowered teens can come into their own. Kenzie is slowly won over to the side of the teen prisoners, whose backstories reveal Sanctuary’s corporate owners as the true criminals. Though Kenzie’s own ability becomes too convenient a plot device, the teen characters are engaging, and readers will find themselves rooting for the budding romances and holding their breath as the heroes tiptoe down dark hallways to find a way to defeat their foes. — Cindy Welch
Raised by her parents to appreciate the benefits of corporate citizenship and to maintain unwavering loyalty to their employer, Omnistellar Concepts, Kenzie is following in their footsteps and guarding the space station Sanctuary, a prison for children and teens imbued with superpowers. Her aspirations, faith in Omnistellar, and belief in her parents come crashing down when a prisoner escape plan coincides with an alien invasion, turning Kenzie from guard to prisoner, fighting for her life among the kids she had been taught to fear. There’s an enjoyable B-movie vibe to the plotting, as Kenzie outmaneuvers monsters, discovers her own technologically repressed superpower, learns the tightly circumscribed boundary of her mother’s love, and kindles a romance with the Sanctuary prisoner leader, all within the time- frame of a couple of days. The themes and characters may derive from familiar sci-fi repertoire, but Lix’s breakneck pacing keeps the pages flying, and Kenzie’s barely tapped superpower and the unplumbed depths of Omnistellar’s presence provide plenty of scope for later adventure. Lix leaves readers just where she wants them: satisfied by a complete story arc but ready to follow the surviving renegades into space, with good guys and bad guys undoubtedly in hot pursuit.
Kenzie knew her duty to Omnistellar as a junior guard: protect the world from the criminal super-powered teenagers imprisoned on Sanctuary. Considering the security measures in place, the job was not too complicated, and she had her parents there for support. However, when a supposed drill turns into something more, Kenzie finds herself taken hostage by the ruthless prisoners. But as she gets to know them, they do not seem as bad as she thought. She begins to question what crime was so bad they were imprisoned for years. When an even greater danger threatens them all, she must learn to trust and rely on those she was taught to hate and fear. This sci-fi fantasy is filled with YA characters having to determine what is right and face serious consequences for whatever they decide. Lix’s novel keeps teens guessing what is really going on and who will win this epic space battle. The ending will leave readers hoping for a sequel. VERDICT YA sci-fi fans will enjoy this wild ride through space.–Jessica Perovich, US Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit Library
“Caryn Lix takes the prison thriller genre to new places in this YA novel.”