Book Review: The Cage by Megan Shepherd

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? Add to Goodreads.

The Cage | Megan Shepherd | Young Adult | Science Fiction | May 26th, 2015 | Balzer+Bray

As a fan of Megan Shepherd's The Madman's Daughter trilogy, I knew THE CAGE would be a must read for me. The summary intrigued me: teen captives in a human zoo, only this zoo is not of Earthly origin, but rather the alien, otherworldly kind. I couldn't wait to see how Shepherd turns her pen towards science fiction and aliens.

The concept of "endangered" humans being taken by an advanced, alien life form to a remote and unknown planet for their safety and protection was a fantastic twist that I really enjoyed. Thought-provoking and creative, the base for The Cage and its world building is unique for sure. Instead of traditional cages, there's designated areas from different time periods and places created as elaborate habitats.

The characters are interesting as each comes from diverse backgrounds. The captives are strategically picked for certain characteristics - traits consider worthy or, even necessary. The Cage is told predominantly from Cora's perspective, but it also uses alternating point-of-views for the remaining captives. Cora as the main protagonist leads us to question everything. She comes across as daring, curious and impetuous. Her determination to escape is admirable, but at times it felt unrealistic ... still, I liked her brash attitude and braveness.

My one frustration was the amount of time plotting an escape. It was this actionless part of the story that felt sluggish. Once Cora discovers a few "key-twists" the story is pushed into exciting and page-turning mode that I really enjoyed.

Let's talk about the swoon in The Cage. You're either going to "ship & dig" the romance or say "What the fluffy-bunny!" There's a certain friendship between Cora and a human boy who is sweet, but I was truthfully more interested in what was brewing between Cora and the otherworldly guy in charge of our human captives. What can I say - I enjoy forbidden, taboo romances. Cassian's fascination with Cora intrigued me. I wanted to know if he was trustworthy or not and could not turn the pages fast enough to find out. You'll have to read it to find out, but know that Megan Shepherd once again had a trick up her sleeve.

Fans of Megan Shepherd's writing and those who enjoy the Sci-Fi genre will find a unique premise and well-done world building, plus her signature style of twists and romance on the forbidden side.

My Rating: 3.5 stars. I liked it!

PLEASE NOTE: A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by Balzer + Bray in exchange for my fair review. Thank you, Balzer + Bray for the review opportunity!