Series: The Cage #1
Published by Balzer + Bray (5.26.2015)
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Format: eARC, 400 pages
When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn't know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn't alone.
Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora's past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren't from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.
As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?
This book was refreshingly unique! I’m kind of glad I steered away from any reviews before picking this one up. I honestly didn’t really have any idea what to expect because I hadn’t read the synopsis since I added the book way back when it was put on Goodreads. So I really had no idea what it was going to be about!
I definitely wasn’t expecting an alien book. I loved that, though! In the beginning you really have no clue what’s happening or why the characters are locked in this strange world they eventually call The Cage. I found it very intriguing, though – a bunch of different climates smashed together, only 6 people inhabiting it, and random ‘puzzles’ to solve? Awesome! I definitely liked the mysterious feel the book had going on.
I found the Kindred to be very intriguing. Especially Cassian! I was very interested in him from the beginning. I felt drawn to him. And I ended up loving him! (Should I be worried that I’m attracted to a fictional alien species?!) I loved that he looked out for Cora and that she brought out his humanity. The little glimpses of softness made me love him even more! I think he was half of the reason I enjoyed this book so much. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of him in the next book! View Spoiler »
The world was definitely creepy! How much would it suck to be thrown together with three rules to obey, including that you HAVE to procreate?! Plus the fact that the characters’ sanity started slipping inch by inch was kind of freaky. I thought that Shepherd did a great job with that – because in that situation, it totally makes sense for them to start turning on one another. You never knew what their motives were or who Cora could trust!
The only real complaint I have about this book is that I didn’t connect to the characters like I’d hoped. I didn’t really care about Cora or Lucky either way, and I mostly only felt dislike for the rest of them. Leon had his moments, but I hated Rolf and Nox. And Mali was just…there. Being creepy. The only character I truly cared about was Cassian. Not because they were flat, quite the opposite – they each had their own individual personalities and Megan did a good job fleshing them out. I think my issue was that it was written in 3rd person, which always creates a disconnect for me. Without being inside the person’s head and knowing what they’re feeling, I have trouble connecting to them.
There was also a love triangle that I didn’t get into. I mean, obviously I’m Team Cassian. But I never really felt the Lucky side of the triangle. I didn’t think he had much to offer, and he was a mediocre love interest for Cora. I had zero interest in the romancey scenes between Cora and Lucky. But ohhh, I did when she was with Cassian! It moved nice and slow and they had actual chemistry, where with Lucky it seemed forced because they pretty much had to.
There was a whammy of a twist in there that I didn’t expect! View Spoiler » I wasn’t unsatisfied with the ending, but it did leave me wanting more. It certainly left some things wide open. We never found out what happened to some of the characters, or the truth about Earth. Which I am dying to know! Also, in the next book I’m really hoping to see more of the other species – the Mosca, the Axion, and the Gatherers.
“There are real oceans out there, on other planets. I’ll get permission to take you there. I’ll show you an ocean, or dogs, or the stars – I’ll show you whatever you want, as long as you stay here.”
Writing style: 4/5
Overall rating: 4/5