“The Cage” by Megan Shepherd
Synopsis: 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?
3 out of 5 stars
So, this book is exactly what the synopsis says. Exactly that and not a lot more, unfortunately. You could just read the back cover of the book and be done with it.
Not to say I did or didn’t like it; it was ok. I am nowhere near the demographic this book was written for, but I have enjoyed other YA novels and I enjoyed “The Madman’s Daughter” also by Megan Shepherd very much. Most of the book moves slowly, picking up at the very end. The end of the books leaves the reader on a cliffhanger which is the only reason I would want to read the next installment in the series.
Cora, and all the other teenagers, have been kidnapped from Earth and put in a world where everything overlaps; jungle next to desert next to ocean, next to city, etc, etc. Each of the teens has been tattooed and finds that their tattoo is mirrored by another teen – the one they are supposed to pair off with.
I really wished that the “humans in a zoo” portion of the plot had been explored in more depth. That fascinates me and I would have loved to see it fleshed out, rather than the predictable love triangles and teen drama. Oh, the drama. The constant fights, and the constant blaming, and the constant doing of nothing other than saying let’s try to escape. The characters all had constant headaches which was sort of explained later in the book, but for most of the book is was just plain annoying. Tell me why it matters, or don’t write it in.
Too much emphasis is placed on the physicality of the characters – all beautiful, especially Cora. Again, I don’t need to know she’s beautiful unless it matters to the story. Now if I was told she was picked for this zoo because of how she looked, it would be different.
I gave three stars because of the last 10% of the book. The rest merits two stars simply because I finished it.