Friday, May 29, 2015

The Cage by Megan Shepherd

The Cage by Megan Shepherd
Release Date - May 26, 2015
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 400 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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?
Unpredictable would be the word I'd use to describe The Cage. From it's characters, to the love triangle, and right up until it's ending this is a book that keeps you guessing. This is a novel that surpassed what I anticipated in a really good way.

Megan's talent as a writer was evident in her previous works. Her strength is in creating a setting and atmosphere and she once again does that here. The world building is stunning, and engrossing. Megan Shepherd's detailed and lush descriptions of the enclosure and everything that surrounds it are breathtaking. It brings the setting to life vividly, and compliments her characters who are just as captivating. The novel is easily pictured as a movie or television show and that is in large part due to Megan's writing.

There is a feeling of desperation that surrounds the entire novel. The desperation that the characters feel, and the paranoia that seeps into their interactions is not only believable, but cloying. It's a force thing that feels suffocating. Each of the characters reacts in different ways to the stress they are put under and this feel authentic because each of them is so different. It might be the world that overshadows everything in this novel, but there is something compelling about the characters nonetheless.

The love triangle is going to garner some strong reactions. Cassian is part of the race imprisoning humans in this zoo like habit, and that aspect is never far from the reader's mind. The other part of this triangle is one of the teens put into the enclosure with Cora. Nothing in this triangle is straight forward, and there is more than one twist that complicates every angle of these connections. Ultimately, it's going to be one that people react strongly to, as there is a touch of 'falling for your captor' going on, even if he seems different from the rest of the 'aliens'.

This is perhaps a minor spoiler so I will tag accordingly. This may have worked better if written for the new adult market. The 'aliens' have rules, three of them, that they expect the humans in captivity to follow. One of which is to engage in sexual relations in order to procreate. The idea of repopulating earth, forced procreation, and everything else that entrails is thought provoking. I do not think this novel went as deep or as dark as it could have, and perhaps should have, gone. We are given little insight to how it makes each of the characters feel. We see Cora explain what forcing someone to kiss you means to humans. Kissing is not something the 'aliens' are familiar with. The emotional attachment and connection is not there the same way it is for humans, so to have a deeper conversation about consent, force, and how it was impacting the characters would have only enriched the story. It is there, but lightly, and I think that is mainly due to the target market.

A highly imaginative, unique, thought provoking concept that was executed well. The Cage sets up what is sure to be an addicting, thrill ride of a series. 

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