Monday, May 04, 2015

Review: The Cage by Megan Shepherd

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I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Cage by Megan ShepherdThe Cage by Megan Shepherd
Series: The Cage #1
Published by Balzer & Bray on May 26th 2015
Genres: Sci-Fi, YA
Source: HarperCollins
Buy on Amazon

The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this gripping new series 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—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?

Everything considered, this is not a bad book at all – the writing is good and flows well, the world building is excellent, and the characters well developed – but I was kind of meh about a large portion of it.

My biggest complaint is how a big part or the book is spent bickering and pointlessly planning an escape. I mean, how do they expect to get back home? They’re in some alien world for gods sake and Cora’s plan is to make a run for it and hope for the best? It’s like she never even takes this into question until way later when she makes up some half-ass plan that seems to be all about blind luck and a whole lot of guessing. I’m all for not giving up, for fighting despite the odds – and I applaud her take-no-crap attitude, I really do – but this directionless plan made the whole escape plot feel frivolous. She should have focused first on getting a decent understanding of where she even was before she thought of how to get home, and while this actually does happen a time or two spontaneously, she puts all her energy on making flimsy weapons (to beat aliens that have the strength of beasts!) and looking for the cage door that seems to be hidden even beyond human ability, with no idea of what would come next. Like, then what? Long story short, I feel like the book spent too much time wandering instead of progressing its real plot.

Another, more minor complaint is with the romance. We’ve got an alien-human love triangle that just weirded me out. He watched her for years, for one, and I know he’s an alien race so age comparison is weird, but his attraction to her gave me the heebie jeebies. I just could not root for that unless it was to try and manipulate herself into getting information or escaping, which I don’t think it was. She clearly felt attracted to him (it.. whatever).

Aside from those complaints, however, the novel is a good one. Despite the slow-ish pace for the first part, it kept my interest and left me intrigued enough that I didn’t want to put it down. The world building and sci-fi aspects were extremely well done and very interesting. I just wish we’d gotten more answers about earth, and seen more of “space life” (however you want to call it..). The species, the societies, their economy; they’re just as disturbing as they are fascinating, but as trilogies are as of late, much of the world building is saved for the second book. The character building is another aspect to praise, especially considering the 3rd person tense that I often have difficulty with. Though focusing on Cora more than any other, the story is told with alternative point-of-views from the cage’s 6 residents. Through each perspective, we learn who they really are and the lives they left behind, which was a great way to understand how they were coping with what was happening, some with more difficulty than others. Moreover, it showed us how this captivity and the cage’s manipulations were changing them – which was not for the better!

The pacing may be unhurried at first, but the plot and its secrets are unraveled in a way that glues you to its pages – the more you learn, the more engrossed you get. The Cage is not without its flaws, but it’s a decent start to what could be a thrilling series!


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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10 Responses to “Review: The Cage by Megan Shepherd”

  1. JennRenee

    I am a little sad to see that it has a slow start and the romance is creepy. not sure what to think of this. but i am glad to see you still like it. I have high hopes for this book.

  2. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    The author’s previous series drove me nuts so I was hesitant about this book. Having read your review, I’m sure I’m not going to pick it up. I hate the sound of the romance although the characterization sounds well written.
    Great review, Giselle!

  3. Carrie

    Wow. Another excellent review. I say “another” because I just read a review of this same book that was 5 stars. It is so cool to see everyone’s view on things and how different they are comparatively. I don’t like it when all of the reviews say the same thing. It’s nice to get a feeling from all sides.

    I have not read this author before but I may give her a try. I love the cover.

  4. Zoey @ Uncreatively Zoey

    Wow. Another love triangle? Color me shocked. I literally cannot stand them anymore. And it’s one thing if it’s obvious from the synopsis that there is one, so at least if you decide to read it anyway, you know what you’re getting into. But if I hadn’t read this review, I honestly don’t think I would have had any idea that there was a love triangle here!

  5. Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide

    Uh oh. Maybe I should pass on this one… I have a REALLY hard time with half-ass plans and I’m not sure how I feel about an alien/human love triangle… Eek. Was hoping to get into this book since I wasn’t a huge fan of her first series but it sounds like I may not even start it.
    Thanks for your thoughts! Definitely some things for me to consider.

  6. Haley @YA-Aholic

    Ah bummed this read didn’t have that WOW sounds so amazing!! Definitely sounds worth picking up though still (: Can’t wait to read it! Great review as always, so helpful!

  7. Jessica @ a GREAT read

    OOoh nice! Hearing some good things about this one. Though the romance does seem to be an issue all around. Which does sound weird. But yeah, I still want to read this one! Great review!

  8. Rashika

    Lately, I just seem to lack patience for plots that don’t progress quickly enough or just spend too much time dancing around the issue at hand. I feel like this book would just end up not working for me because of that.

    I can also totally see that weird alien romance bothering me. I’ve always been weird about age issues involving separate races but the fact that he had been watching her for years is kind of weird??

    I am glad though that even though there were a couple aspects of the novel that didn’t work, you did manage to like it!

    Fantastic review, lovely!! <3


  9. jazmen

    I’m reading this right now and I’m feeling some of the same feelings about this slow, bickering start. Thanks for this review!