Sanctuary by Zainab T. Khan

Genres: Young Adult
Publication Date: December 2015


Disclaimer: A copy of this book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

“There were so many ethnic groups, each with its own language, and one just can’t learn all of the languages. While they had been beautiful and weird in their own way, they were also difficult. As for English, almost everyone knew it. A bit, anyway.”

A short look into the lives of several characters living in a multicultural town.

I feel as though Sanctuary was too short to do as much as it wanted to do. The idea behind the story requires that the cast be wide and diverse but with only fifty pages none of the characters get the sort of development they deserve. There are hints of romance and while one progresses pretty reasonably the second one seems to shoot out of no where. It doesn’t have time to develop but it’s tossed on us suddenly anyways and it feels almost exactly like Summer and Blake’s relationship from A Bucket Full of Awesome.

In fact many of the issues in this story are carried over from the author’s previous book. The same characters are present with slightly different interests and names. The adults feel largely like teenagers and there’s barely any distinction between adults in their twenties or those approaching their mid-forties. There are characters having children and getting married but they all feel about fifteen or sixteen and the writing makes it very difficult to tell unles it’s stated.

Other languages are peppered throughout the story, but unfortunately that’s more of a detriment than anything. Often the other language bits are not explained and just as often they’re not beng used properly. At one point a character speaks in French but the other characters react as if he’s spoken Italian. When languages do appear in full passages (though I’m referencing mainly the French as I am not fluent in anything else) it looks as though it’s just been put through Google translate.

This is an incredibly interesting idea, and I’ve seen stories of cultural towns with various residents go well (see Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio) but this just felt poorly researched. Most characters feel like a stereotype of their culture, each abiding very strictly to cultural norms without deviating as individuals do. With the number of characters the story hopes to flesh out it lacks both the length and the research to be successful.

Read this if you’re a fan of:  Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio


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