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Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Second Look: The Cage by Megan Shepherd

I'm taking a second look at The Cage by Megan Shepherd.  You can see Stephanie's original review from last year here.

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 kind of agree with Stephanie about the aliens' requirement that the teens mate.  (Like animals in a zoo.)  It is pretty creepy.  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.


Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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