Great new series from Megan Shepherd
Cora Mason wakes in a desert setting with no clue how she got there, or where there is. The place she's in, it makes no sense. There's a jungle next to a farm, she can walk from the hot desert into freezing snow. She soon discovers she's not alone. There's four other teenagers with her and they're being watched. They've been taken, they're no longer on Earth, and they're expected to live in the environment created just for them - like they're an experiment being observed. Cora's sure their best chance for escape lies in the sympathies of their jailer, Cassian, but can she convince the others to trust the man holding them prisoner? And do the others really want to leave?
I was anticipating this series the second I heard Megan Shepherd was writing a new one. And even though I didn't enjoy it as much as her Madman's Daughter series, I still really liked it. It was set in a completely different world from her first series but still kept the complex characters, the dark writing, and the 'nothing is black or white/good or evil' theme.
I really liked all of the teenage characters. They were all so different, taken for different reasons from different parts of the world. They all had something to contribute to the group and even if none of them would have given each other a second look on Earth, in The Cage, they were all they had. The book was told mainly through Cora's POV but all the other characters each had a few POV chapters spread throughout the book. It was interesting to read how it was done. Cora was the girl who never gave up hope of escaping, who had something to go back to, who questioned everything. We saw the way the others appeared in her eyes, the way they started slowly bending to the lifestyle the aliens wanted for them. Then we got to know the other characters' pasts and their reasoning for complying.
Cora, the main character, was the daughter of a senator who was hiding some pretty big secrets and had just gotten out of juvie when she was taken. She could be pretty naive and never really thought her plans through, just wanted to escape and go home, but it was hard to take her seriously when her ideas to escape were always going to fail. The other teens in the cage with her were: Lucky, a boy she shared a mysterious connection with that she didn't know about and who was protective of her; Leon, a smuggler with a tough act and a big heart he kept hidden; Nok, a model on Earth who was shy; and Rolf, a boy genius who was always bullied back home. There was also Cassian, their jailer, who seemed sympathetic toward them whenever he appeared to explain their purpose. His race, the Kindred, wanted to save a few select humans from the Earth's doomed fate. All they had to do was follow the rules: eat, sleep, procreate.
The book had a bit of a 'Lord of the Flies' vibe in the way the teens acted. Stick together at first, them against their captors, but slowly turning on each other. The different character POVs really helped to show and to understand how each different teen got to their mindset. Megan Shepherd also did a great job in keeping me questioning the Kindred's motives. Were they truly trying to be helpful and save mankind? Were they evil and lying to the teens?
Overall, it was a great concept, had interesting characters, and so many little twists. It was fun to read and I can't wait to see where the next book takes these characters.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.