Review of The Cage by Megan Shepherd

TheCageCoverThe Cage
By: Megan Shepherd
Release Date: May 26th 2015
Publisher: Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
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.

The Story:
I really didn’t know what to expect with The Cage. I read 2 of Megan Shepherd’s last series and really love hear writing style but wasn’t a fan overall of the books. I was excited to see her going in such a different direction and knew I’d want to see what she’d do with a science fiction edge. I will say, The Cage was highly readable. I started it expecting to read a chapter and read about a third of the book before I knew what I’d done.

There was no hesitation to jump into the story. Shepherd plops us right into the alien habitat and we are immediately introduced to the surroundings and characters. I felt that this was a great way to start the novel and felt pretty strongly about what I was reading. I was as curious as the characters to find out where they were and why.

As the story progresses the pacing slowed down for me and I felt that a good chunk in the middle dragged. It was still easy to read but I could have done without some of the details. I did love that we got to venture out of their zoo enclosure a view times though the world outside of their ‘cage’ was very vague. Such a small amount was described I look forward to learning more.

Now, I think I’ll be one of the only people to think this book mimicked another book, The Bone Season. I saw some similarities that I couldn’t ignore. We have a Warden, alien-type characters that wear gloves and the people be treated as less (okay this is a really common theme but still). The summary suggests that the characters are part of a human zoo (ala Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter House Five) but for me it really didn’t come across as a zoo. It felt more like experiments on humans and a way to control rather than a way for an alien species to view humans in their habitat (which is how I think of a zoo).

The Characters:
Now, I could take all the above about the story pretty easily. It did feel like a rework of other books and nothing felt overly original to me but with every chapter I began to loathe the characters more and more. By the end of the book I downright hated every single character in the book. I’m not sure that’s ever happened before. Not a single character stood out to me as someone I cared for or wanted to succeed. They could really all blow up and I’d be A-Okay with it. That’s awful, right?

The main character, Cora,  was determined…I give her that. But determined to the point of stupidity. She was dead set on a course of action through a large part of the book-she wanted to escape. But really, if you are not even on your own planet and floating out in the universe even if you get out of the enclosure how will you get far? She didn’t seem to really care about anything other than getting out. It was somewhat frustrating for this reader though I could see why she wanted to leave. Things sorted out towards the middle and end but it was a bit too late in the game. I’d already spent a good amount of time wondering what she was thinking.

The secondary characters were so bad to me. Not even in the start did I care for them. They each were fairly shallow though there was an attempt to give them depth. I never cared about their backstories. I imagine it was given to show the reasoning for their actions in the enclosure but it didn’t work for me. As the story progresses the characters all get more and more unhinged. Things did improve for me the more awful and crazy they each became. It got a bit creepy in a few places and I highly enjoyed those bits.

For those curious about a love triangle–there was one…sort of? The main character’s feelings are pretty easy to decipher and I never felt that she truly was drawn to one of the love interests. There are two men that had feelings for Cora and I did prefer one over the other. I’ll not go into spoilers but I felt it was obvious who she was attracted to. So I’m not sure it’s a traditional triangle but it might bother some of the more triangle sensitive readers out there.

Final Thoughts:
As many problems as I had with The Cage I will say that Megan Shepherd is a gifted writer and this book was able to gain my interest and keep me glued to the pages. I was never surprised of the outcome or twists but it was a fun ride. Will I read the sequel? I really don’t know. I do think that other readers will really enjoy this book especially if they are able to enjoy the characters (or at least a few of them).

 

Comments

  1. says

    You hated all the characters by the end? YIKES! I already had this one off my TBR because of the potential love triangle, but I need to feel some connection to a character to enjoy a story. It’s really hard for me when someone is so determined to do something that I can’t agree with. It eats away at me while I’m reading. I am happy to hear this isn’t a strong love triangle – though I don’t don’t trust this won’t turn into one after the events of the last series. Thanks for your honest review! It gave me a better picture of the book.

    • says

      Yep, I was pretty disappointed with the characters. I thought I’d like them but boy did I not. I really need a connection myself to really enjoy what I’m reading but I will say this book was rather easy to read and kept me interested though I didn’t care for the characters. That’s pretty impressive really! haha.

  2. says

    NOOOOOOOO. Now I’m so sure that I will not like this book either :'( SOOOOBS. She even included a love triangle? AGAIN?! Goddamn it. I shall not read this book. Ugh. Makes me so sad. I still will not ever forgive Megan for PROMISING me there was less of a love triangle in book two of her previous trilogy. And then the girl had sex with the wrong boy. WHAAAT THE. I shall NEVER forgive that 🙁 Would you consider that a love triangle? Because to me, that is something that shall never ever happen if the girl “loves” another boy. Ugh. I’m still so angry about it, lol. Sorry 😀 Okay, I have still only read her first book, but I peeked at book two and three. Doubt I will ever read them 🙁 Sad face. And now I’m staying far away from this too. Though I am buying it.. because, damn, so pretty.

    ANYWAY. Your review is all kinds of gorgeous Kristen 🙂 But oh, I am so so sorry that this book was awful. Sniffs. The characters sounds really bad. And the plot doesn’t sound exciting, like I thought it would be. Hmph. How mean. Sigh. You are amazing for finishing it, though 🙂 Thank you for sharing your thoughts sweetie. <3

    • says

      It wasn’t a real love triangle but if you are highly sensitive to them it’ll bother you–maybe? I’d be curious to hear what you think if/when you read it. I’m actually really curious what you’ll think of it so you should read it so we can discuss!

      • says

        How mean of you. Now I’m curious about it again, lol 😀 But I think I will wait until my hardcover of it arrives. Probably. Will see what I have time for this month 😀

  3. says

    Oigh!! Another sort of love triangle?? Really not a fan of those, adding the romance all the time and ending with the sort of triangle-y scenario bothers me!

    And not being able to care for any of the characters and being annoyed by the main character? Not cool at all!

    Not too excited to read this one, I must confess…

    • says

      It’s rather mild really but some might dislike it. There was so much I didn’t care for in this book it was an afterthought really. It’s so weird to really appreciate the author’s skill and writing but hate the characters and not love the storyline. I don’t know how she does it. I can totally see how folks love her work but I’ve yet to love one of her characters. Since I enjoy her writing style I’ll keep coming back hoping that the next book will be the one I really connect to.

  4. says

    Aw! It’s upsetting to hear that you didn’t like this one because it sounds so interesting to me. I really loved the plot idea and since I haven’t read The bone Season maybe I’ll end up enjoying it?

    I hate the idea of a character who acts like a martyr for no reason. It’s very irritating, for sure and I can totally understand why you wouldn’t like it because of her. And since you mentioned that her feelings are easy to decipher, I don’t know if I’ll like it. The more complex a character is, the more I tend to love them for whatever reason.

    Great review!

  5. says

    Awww noo! Despite my complaining when it comes to dystopias and how I’m bloody sick of them already, I was actually anticipating this one. No idea why though seeing as the premise promise me something that I was so so sick off LOL Stories that drag are a big no no for me, especially with my limited attention span nowadays. And mimicking Bone Season. Bleugh not a fan of that. And stupidity makes me want to bang my head on the wall. Oh goodness. Thanks for the fantastic review, Kristen! x

  6. says

    I’m sorry this one didn’t work much for you! The story sounded interesting to me, but if the details are vague + the characters aren’t likable + hints of a love triangle… well, you know this one isn’t for me. :/
    I hope your next read is better, girl! Thanks for your review.

  7. says

    Oh gosh. It sounds like The Madman’s Daughter trilogy but in science fiction. I HATED Juliette in that series, for basically the entire series… she was so clueless and idiotic. Sounds like the same with Cora. Yay. I’ll be reading this one weeks from now, but I already had low expectations. I didn’t love Shepherd’s debut trilogy so I don’t expect to LOVE this book (though it would be nice). Interesting perspective you provide.

    Excellent review, Kristen!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  8. says

    I haven’t read the other books before, but generally I am not a fan of when another book seems to mirror another. I think I will have to give this one a pass because of this, and because it seems to be lacking in some things like descriptions.

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