The Cage

The Cage

by Megan Shepard


The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this gripping new series about teens held captive in a human zoo by an otherworldly race. From Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of The Madman’s Daughter trilogy.

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?

I REALLY wanted to read a young adult science fiction novel that was not dystopian or centered on an angsty love story. Yeah, I know. I can hear your laughs from here because such novels just don’t exist! Right?

Wrong! These books are out there and I now have a nice list from Facebook friends that I am eager to check out. Surprisingly, Goodreads recommended The Cage and I couldn’t say no to the premise. I mean, come on! A human zoo! Who could say no to that?!

I’m not going to provide a summary because the above synopsis does a pretty thorough job, so lets jump straight in to the review. I loved it! I couldn’t put The Cage down because, like Cora, I needed to know what was going on! My favorite character was Cassian, the alien Caretaker in charge of Cora’s habitat. I love how earnest he is to learn about human nature and I enjoyed the relationship that develops between him and Cora. Many readers have stated distaste at the alien/captive relationship because it just seemed weird. I had no problem with it because 1. it wasn’t a surprise as it is obviously stated in the book blurb (I have no earthly idea why they were shocked and disgusted. *eyeroll*) and 2. the connection between Cora and Cassian was far more tangible than the supposed relationship between her and Lucky.

Shepard is a master at world building. I was immersed in the habitats, tasting the odd food, and slowly going nuts as the same song blared repeatedly from the jukebox. Shepard also perfectly displays the effects of captivity on the human mind. Yes, the human teenagers are erratic. Yes, the insta-love/lust between them seems unrealistic. Yes, Cora’s almost psychotic drive to escape can be overwhelming. But, they are all realistic mental responses to imprisonment and experimentation. I can definitely see myself reacting in a similar fashion to Cora because there is no way I would be a willing test subject. A number of reviewers remarked on the annoyance of the character interactions, but I thought it was one of the more impressive aspects of the story construction. Annoying, but also shockingly realistic in my opinion.

Unfortunately, Cassian was the only fully developed character in The Cage, which was disappointing. Shepard created a vivid background for the captives but that depth did not encompass the six captives. I was hoping to have sympathy and compassion for each of them but they read two dimensional despite Shepard including chapters from each captive’s perspective. Even Cora was less developed than I hoped. She was all over the place and two plots points left me irritated with her.1. Her response to Lucky coming clean about their shared history contradicts what we learn about said history later in the story. I actually yelled ‘WHAT!?’ at my Nook. 2. Her dependency on her necklace was irksome as she wouldn’t have been allowed to wear in juvie and therefore would not have developed such a dependency on it. These two points decreased my connection with Cora and left me easily annoyed by her actions. I would have been more on her side if these two details were handled differently.

Dont let that deter you from The Cage. I stayed up late because I NEEDED to know how it ended and I was so darn wound up upon finishing that I had a difficult time falling asleep. I was left wanting, needing, to know more about Cassian and the Kindred and the fate of the captives. I will definitely be reading book two when it comes out next year! I wish I could provide more information on the story/plot but no spoilers! Read it and let me know what you think!


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