Series: The Cage #1
Also in this series: The Hunt
Published by HarperCollins on May 26th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Social Themes, Death & Dying, Science & Technology
Also by this author: The Hunt
Hardcover provided by The Library
“Gripping and addictive—Shepherd has delivered again! A captivating mix of intrigue, deft twists, and complex questions, this is a must-read.”—Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, New York Times bestselling authors of These Broken Stars.
The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this new series Kirkus Reviews calls “swoon-worthy and thrilling” about teens held captive in a human zoo by an otherworldly race. From Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of the Madman’s Daughter trilogy.
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 appears—a handsome young guard called Cassian—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.
THE CAGE is such a unique story. What would you do if you woke up in a fake reality with 5 strangers? Cora wakes up in the desert with no recollection of how she got there. She meets a boy there named Lucky and together they find 4 more strangers. One is dead. Together they find out that they are being watched everywhere they go. Soon they are introduced to their captors, a race called Kindred. There are three rules; solve the physical and mental puzzles (that are everywhere in their environment), maintain good health, and engage in procreation actives. They have 21 days before they get replaced. There is no escape. The Kindred have everything under control.
This story is told in each human’s point of view. In this story the main character is Cora, who comes from a privileged past, but who somehow ended up in Juvenile detention. Then there is Lucky, who knows Cora from earth, he might have something to do with how she got into trouble. There is another girl named Nok, whose physical attractiveness lead her into a life of sexual manipulation. Rof, the smart one. He was bullied a lot on earth and harbors a lot of resentment. Then Leon, whose strength and crappy family lead him into a life of crime. The Kindred have psychic abilities and their hope seemed to be that the group would learn them somehow. Mali, a human we meet later. She could be so much help to the group but she is such a weird girl that she keeps things to herself.
The story really asks the question of who you can trust when you are surrounded by strangers. I liked how everyone was a suspect in a way. Yes, it was frustrating to see the group sort of implode and turn on each other, but that is reality sometimes. People just do what they want and think how they want and you can’t control it. Even in a controlled environment.
I liked Cora. Honestly, I didn’t buy everything about her backstory, but I liked her. I think her determination to get out of there was genuine. I did want her and Lucky to just hash it out and follow the rules, but I understood why she couldn’t. Most of her idea for escape were ludicrous but I liked how the group agreed (at least at first) to try together to get out of there and go home. Lucky was probably my favorite character. He was my obvious pick for leader and I think if Cora would have just trusted him more they could have been happy. I felt bad for Nok, but I liked her and Rof together. Rof was an arrogant ass. I wish we would have seen more from Leon. He acted crazy, but I bet he really has things worked out. The alien species was a big mystery throughout the story. Cassius, a Kindred known as “the caretaker”, was hard to figure out. This thing between Cassius and Cora made me keep reading this story.
I was so intrigued by the setting and world building. It was very well done. I liked how the environment kept changing so that the group would adapt. Although it really sucked for them. The environment had a city, desert, snow, woods, jungle and ocean. So it pretty much mimicked earth, but not in a way that makes sense. This world had my full attention and stretched my imagination. In contrast, we get to see how the Kindred live and how they use humans for entertainment. I can’t really say enough about how much I enjoyed the world building in this story.
Admittedly, there were some flaws with this story. I didn’t like how Cora was so secretive from the group. She had some really dumb ideas about escape, even after they realized they weren’t even on earth anymore. Cassius liking Cora the most didn’t make any sense to me. Also, the Kindred could read their thoughts and intentions, so how did they get anything past them. That was a giant plot hole that I had a hard time swallowing. But, this world and the set up were so amazing that I just decided to turn my brain off and go with it.
I will definitely be reading the sequel to this book, the book ended in a place where reading the next book is an inevitable certainty. Now that everything is set up I think (hope) things will just get better and bigger. I give this book 4 stars for how I feel about it, but it is probably more of a 3 star read in reality. However, since this is MY review…