Series: The Cage,
Published by Balzar + Bray, HarperCollins on 2015-05-26
Length: 400 pages
Reviewing eBook from TN R.E.A.D.S.
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?
So despite my initial reaction to The Cage by Megan Shepherd I REALLY enjoyed this book! Cora Mason is 17 when she wakes up in what can only be described as a zoo with 5 other teenagers. They are all scared, have no clue what’s happened to them, and then this gorgeous alien appears out of thin air telling them that they are there to “save” the human race.
Yep you read that right. So the concept of the story is really cool. You have six teenagers (3 girls, 3 boys) in a simulated Earth environment…again just like a zoo. The teens can walk from one environment to the next seamlessly. There’s a farm, mountains, a beach, a jungle, a quaint little town…you get the picture. Each with it’s own weather and climate which adds to the teens freakout factor. In each environment there are puzzles to keep them entertained but also they get tokens (which reminded me of the tokens you get at places like arcades) to buy things like popcorn at the movie theater or music in the diner. It’s all a bit creepy and you can tell the aliens really did their homework as outside observers of our society.
So Cora Mason is the main character and a majority of the story is told from her POV, though I will warn you that it is an awkward 3rd person POV and a handful of chapters are told from the other characters’ POV. Cora is the daughter of a senator, who through no fault of her own just got out of juvie for involuntary manslaughter. She’s a bit hard to like. She’s got this tough girl attitude, but also kind of naive. She’s very trusting and very determined to get home. It’s this determination that lands her in serious trouble with the aliens.
Then there’s Cassian…the alien and the teen’s caretaker. He’s basically like their handler (again think zoo). He makes sure they stay healthy, follow the rules, and he takes a particular shining to Cora. His whole character is a bit curious to me. I’d like to know more about him and hope to in the next book. But Cassian sets up a little love triangle between himself, Cora, and Lucky.
Lucky is an army kid and one of the other teens that finds himself in the Cage. He sides with Cora immediately, he knows her from the news stories and finds he just can’t help himself when he is around her. He follows her everywhere and he is sort of like her constant, her rock…that is until the place starts to get to him. Then he like everyone else goes a bit crazy.
Overall I really enjoyed the book. I obviously have my ship….Lucky….but I’m super curious about the aliens, why the kids were taken, and what is going to happen to them. Did it live up to my expectations? Yes and no. It did in that it kept me wanting more, turning each page faster and faster until I reached the end. It’s fast-paced with a ton of suspense. And yet it didn’t quite measure up. Once I reached the end I felt a bit put out. There’s a ton of buildup and then it just ends. I know, I know there’s going to be a second one so I’ll get more and maybe the buildup will pick up in book two. BUT I felt like I was left with more questions than answers and really not a clear picture of the characters, except Cora. Everyone else fell flat and were forgettable. Despite all that though, I’m really looking forward to the next book! AND if you enjoy science fiction in young adult, I highly suggest you check it out.