Simon Toyne’s: Sanctus series

Must Read IconIf you have read a handful of my reviews, then you probably know I love a good thriller novel. Naturally, when I heard a few friends mentioning Simon Toyne’s Sanctus series, I had to see what all of the fuss was about. The first novel in the trilogy, Sanctus, follows a small handful of characters as they try to understand the reasoning behind a man’s public suicide and the response given by a very secretive group of individuals waiting for a sign. “A sign of what?” is the question on everybody’s mind, and events that will shake the very foundation of the earth are drawing nearer and nearer. These doomsday fanatics, reporters, and everyday people must uncover a conspiracy that has operated throughout history, as well as a way to preserve all that mankind has achieved.

Now, the above scenario may sound familiar. That’s because it probably is. Sanctus is, in many ways, a generic apocalyptic conspiracy-thriller, which both hurts and helps the novel. On the upside, it has an engaging plot, generally likable characters, and enough “cinematic” flair to keep the reader interested and reading quickly, all of which are high points of the thriller genre. On the downside, the novel, being generic (for the most part, which I will touch on in a bit), must also suffer from common problems with the thriller genre: namely, the fairly unbelievable plot, forced progression of events, and too-tidy tie in of everything that happens. As often happens in a thriller, the mystery fits just a little too nicely. Now, this is the first novel in the series, so there are certainly unanswered questions, but, for the most part, the author makes it very clear that every event is interrelated. In short, it just feels artificial. The same thing can be said of how the action unfolds. Yes, a thriller, by definition, moves at a fairly quick pace. That being said, it sometimes feels as if a bunch of important scenes were taken from a Sanctus movie and were edited to fit together: there is no realistic lull in the action.

The book breaks its generic feel with the plot involving the Citadel, the “unknown” faction in the novel (don’t worry, it’s not a spoiler). Put simply, they run a pretty cool conspiracy, and Toyne does a good job at making them intriguing and mysterious to the reader. The actual doomsday feel of the novel is also strong, leading to a feeling of “race against the clock, but what clock are we even racing against?” which is certainly fun to follow (even if it is, at times, a little too forced). All in all, the book is, in no way, going to redefine the thriller genre. Heck, it won’t redefine the apocalyptic conspiracy-thriller subgenre. That being said, it does have its own little flare with the groups involved in the plot, and the book does reap the benefits of being a thriller novel, in general. It is Toyne’s first novel (and it shows), but if you are looking for a fun thriller to pick up this summer, Simon Toyne’s Sanctus is a book you will probably want to pick up. It can hang with a good deal of thriller’s on the market, all while maintaining its own little bit of flair.

Source: Jake Depew, Assistant Editor