Like all gladiators in Sanctuary, Kit wears a Halo, a mechanical collar that blocks emotions like pain, fear and anger. This device enables prize fighters to kill opponents without hesitation or remorse – much to the delight of gambling spectators. Kit’s Halo is broken during an important battle, and her emotions surface. Overwhelmed with guilt and grief, she runs away. Ryka discovers Kit and offers to hide her in his village, Freetown. Without her Halo, Kit experiences other emotions like awkwardness, nervousness, jealousy, love… and shock, as Freetown has a few things in common with the violent city she left behind.
Both Sanctuary and Freetown have organized fighting. In Sanctuary, families select who fights to the death; they do it for sport and money. In Freetown, its the Priestesses who nominate contenders after having a “vision.” They believe the dead demand blood sacrifices. “Rashka” is the chant in Freetown for a new battle to begin. Kit escapes Sanctuary to find herself in an equally brutal situation.
Meanwhile, Kit is experiencing emotions – good and bad for the first time. She learns what it is to be hurt physically and be inundated with feelings. Uncomfortable in her own skin and new surroundings, she struggles to adapt to new friendships, leaders and consequences. She must acknowledge her feelings for the boy who saved her, Ryka, and decide if she should share (and act on) those feelings.
I knew at 2% in that I would enjoy this book because of the writing style of Frankie Rose. It takes her two sentences to describe Sanctuary so well that you can honestly picture it: The city is a dirty grey stain that its people are always trying to paint white. It doesn’t matter how hard they try, though. Everything about this book is vivid: characters, locations, fight scenes, near drowning, first love. The action is fast paced and the story is original, moving and thought provoking. I look forward to reading the next chapter in Kit and Ryka’s story. – Kris