Want personalized picks that fit your family?
Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.
The Sandcastle Empire
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Sandcastle Empire is a near-future science fiction thriller set mostly on a mysterious tropical island. The opening scene is particularly violent -- teen escapees race across a landmine-strewn beach while being shot at -- but the level of bloodshed diminishes after that. Sexual content is limited to a couple of passionate embraces, and the only swearing is "hell" and "damn."
What's the story?
The first chapter of THE SANDCASTLE EMPIRE begins with Eden Anderson escaping from a forced labor camp. After crossing a beach filled with landmines, she boards a sailboat with three other young women and sets off for Sanctuary, the fabled island that supposedly offers safety from the Wolfpack, a powerful group that controls the earth's resources in the wake of dramatic environmental change. The four girls do find an island, but nothing there is as they imagined it, presenting dangers and challenges that will test them beyond their limits. One of Eden's compatriots goes missing, and the remaining escapees begin to wonder exactly whom they can trust.
Is it any good?
Boasting a killer setting and a strong set of diverse female characters, this near-future sci-fi thriller mixes physical action and mental head games. In The Sandcastle Empire, author Kayla Olson combines elements of Lost and The Maze Runner to raise the stakes and keep the level of suspense high. Eden and her companions are well defined and multifaceted. Nothing on Sanctuary Island is quite as it first seems, and the plot takes some exhilarating turns. The book sometimes feels a bit bloated, however, with Eden's interior monologue offering more extraneous detail than true insight. Nevertheless, The Sandcastle Empire is a clever, tricky adventure with a tropical twist.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Sandcastle Empire addresses the need for trust and security. To what lengths will people go to feel safe?
What are the effects of global warming on human populations? Why are they subjects of debate?
How is violence used in The Sandcastle Empire? Is it shown to be an effective method of achieving one's goals?
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love thrillers and adventure
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.