I've read a lot of the dystopian teen novels and I would say this one kept my interest. It is fast-paced and the characters are interesting. Looking forward to the next in the series.
Reading this book, I was torn between "what on earth is happening right now" and "why is this happening right now?" The idea of the book itself is pretty interesting, how six humans are supposedly "caged" in this huge environment by "others" and expected to follow three rules, or they will face consequences. But then it kind of went crazy from there. The female lead is a pretty dramatic person. She literally has everything, but is determined to find the answer, even if that means interacting a lot with the humans' guard. Essentially, her attitude towards everything may have been a huge asset to a potential "escape", but in reality it just made her seem pitiful and a bit annoying. Planning on reading the next book? Enter at your own risk. 3/5 Stars
- @Siri of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library
I had the ARC of The Cage sitting on my bookshelf for way too long before I finally read it! I love love love The Madman's Daughter trilogy by Shepherd, so I was anticipating enjoying this new trilogy just as much. And I did! Shepherd is one of my all-over fave YA authors. I think I've compared her to a female Stephen King for teens in a previous review. I get sucked into her writing and transported into the book's world and get actual physical goosebumps while I read!
Aliens! It's not often that you find a book that features aliens that isn't campy. The aliens in The Cage have kidnapped six teens from earth and placed them into an elaborate cage. These aliens aren't little green men- they're a very sophisticated race that look vaguely human. They have the same number of arms and legs and same facial features; the big difference is that their skin is kind of metallic. They are described as being very solid and a bit on the tall side, which I imagine would make them formidable captors. These aliens are definitely frightening, with their silence and stoicism and lack of emotions.
Then there's the cage. The cage, to me, is very reminiscent of a zoo- it's got multiple "habitat" areas that are meant to mimic geographic features of earth, such as a desert area and a town area and a jungle area. None of them are quite right, of course, but they're just close enough to bug the teens. (For example, there's daily rain in the jungle area, but no bugs.) Within the cage are multiple puzzles that the teens can solve over and over again to win tokens. I kept thinking of seals or killer whales, who are often made to do a trick to earn fish. It made me cringe.
The setting and the story are very well set up and elaborate. I won't give anything away, but there's more to the caging of the teens than originally meets the eye. Even with it's elaborateness and depth, though, the story is never hard to follow. Shepherd is quite the writer! However, I didn't feel that the characters were as well developed as they could be. The reader sees the story from every character's point of view at least once, but a majority of the chapters are from Cora's point of view. Even with that, though, I didn't always feel like I knew her. I'd be cheering her independent spirit one moment, then completely confused when she turns around and has feelings for her captor. We have a whole backstory on her that makes her sound really tough, then she starts to lose it in the cage. This is the first book in a trilogy, so maybe we get to know other characters better in the second and third books.
The Cage was fantastic! I'm kind of glad it took me so long to get around to reading it; now I can binge read right into the second and third books without waiting! Even with the underdevelopment of characters, the unique plot and the whammy of an ending left me wanting more.
P.S. I'll say that I do think it's pretty creepy that the aliens require that the teens mate. (Like animals in a zoo.) However, it fits into the story and adds to the terror and suspense, and when characters comply the actions are never described in any detail, so I'm actually ok with it being in the book. I just wouldn't recommend it to young/immature teens.
Huh actually pretty good! The alien/human relationship was kinda weird at first but got better. The book was very intense; it was a mixture of Lord of the Flies and Across the Universe (Revis). Would recommend. I'll read the next one out of curiosity.
Never rely on the blurbs. This story's a mash-up of Twilight Zone episodes wherein the protagonists (teens, natch) awaken in a strangely beautiful place which is itself a mash-up of Earth environments. Seems somewhat juvenile and histrionic(but they are young teens), compared to other YA fantasies, but it is an enjoyable read. Shepherd takes on a number of different issues that the teens need to deal with, and some of them will make readers wince. Bullying, lying, love, rewards, slavery, risk-taking, manipulation, and trust all come into play as the teens try to decide whether to acquiesce to their captors demands or try to escape.
I loved how the book slowly built up the tension and pressure right until the very end. The setting, within and without the cage, is amazing. The characters are diverse with distinct voices and personalities. Cora is a wonderful protagonist and I love her determination. But best of all, the love triangle is written very well. It's somewhat tame and mature and, in my opinion, better than the Madman Daughter's trilogy's.
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