Friday, May 29, 2015

Me on The Cage

Title: The Cage
Author: Megan Shepherd
Release Date: May 26, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

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 Cage is mysterious, puzzling, and dangerous. Trapped in an impossible place, will Cora and the others learn the truth of where they are, why they're there, and what's wanted from them? Will they even want to know the truth?

Cora is a bit rough, smart and practical but wary of everything and everyone, which makes sense, considering where she was before the book started. She wakes up lost, confused, wondering why she's no longer with her brother. It doesn't take long for her to realize she's in a place that shouldn't exist, and it doesn't take her long to realize she's not alone. But she never really trusts any of them completely. She's learned not to trust people. Until Cassian.

I worry about the romance between Cora and Cassian. On her side, she's wary, yes, but also confused, in near constant pain from her headaches, desperate to get out, to return home. She's strong but vulnerable in a number of ways. On his side, he seems obsessed with her. He's focused on keeping her alive, keep her her safe, leaning from her. Which leads to her trusting him and him gaining more and more control over her. It doesn't seem healthy to me, seems rather manipulative on his part. I wonder what will happen between them in the next book.

The reason for the teens' abduction is chilling. Captured by aliens, settled in an enclosure to be watched. Their purpose is simple now, according to their captors, but not to them. Their rebellion is human resistance at its best. It's our refusal to be controlled, to have someone in charge of our basic needs like where we sleep, where we live, what we eat, and who we must be with. When Cora and the group realize that they're caged like animals, to be observed in a zoo for the rest of their lives, the primal instinct to flee and find freedom takes over. But it's not that simple. It never is.

This book is rather strange. It went from me thinking it was going to be about finding an escape to some kind of dark and twisted science fiction tale to an exploration of human defiance, risk, challenge, and the strength of our emotions. It's intriguing, yes, but the possibilities of what could happen, what has happened to humans taken previously by the aliens, is disturbing. I'm curious as to how the rest of the trilogy will play out, what other secrets about the aliens will be revealed. What is happening to Cora and the others. I do wonder if everything will end with Cora strong and confident, not taking any lies from anyone, completely in charge and in control, but only time will tell.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from Edelweiss through HarperCollins.)

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