Monday, June 15, 2015

Audiobook Review: The Cage by Megan Shepherd

Title: The Cage (The Cage #1)
Author: Megan Shepherd
Narrator: Barrie Kreinik 
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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Reviews for book 2 & book 3

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?

When I first saw the cover and read the synopsis for The Cage, I almost came out of my seat with excitement! The main reason is that I was raised on old Twilight Zone episodes. Does anyone besides me remember the episode where the astronaut lands on a strange planet, is greeted warmly and given a place to live, only to discover he's in a human zoo?!

Okay, well... that was my favorite episode of all time! Because it's completely insane and twisted and amazing and, well, that's what I was really hoping for with The Cage. Not to mention Megan Shepherd is one of my favorite authors! I absolutely LOVED The Madman's Daughter and Her Dark Curiosity (I still haven't read book 3)! All that to say I was super excited about The Cage. Unfortunately, this book was kind of a total let down.

At the very beginning of The Cage we meet Cora, our heroine. She's blonde and pretty and she just got out of juvie for a crime she didn't commit. She's also really freaking stupid. I wanted to like Cora so much. Mostly because she's the main character. But I just couldn't like her. Every time she opened her dumb mouth I had to roll my eyes. Seriously, by the end of the book, every time she said "could it have been..." (or any variation) I'd respond to her aloud with "Gee, you think so, Cora?" Her biggest dumb moment(s) was her escape plan. From the moment she discovers she's in a "cage" she can think of nothing else besides escape. Does she ever consider where she might escape to? Hmm... I doubt it.

Which brings me to the other characters. Almost every single one of them is also really stupid in his or her own way. The only ones who weren't total morons were probably Leon and Mali. Rolf and Nok are living in a fantasy world where everything is lovely. Rolf is a moron and can't see the blatant EVERYTHING going on in front of him, Nok does nothing but stuff her face with candy and treat everyone like crap, and both Rolf and Nok are assholes.

(Let me just completely divert here for a moment with a question for my UK friends: do people in London really say "yeah?" after EVERY SINGLE SENTENCE?! Because I listened to this as an audiobook and I was ready to punch Nok in the face halfway through.)

Lucky, love interest #1, is completely delusional and thinks it's cool and fun to have sex with someone when it's super clear they're not into it. Mali is a little weird, but at least she's not blind like the rest of them.

And then there's Cassian, love interest #2. He was super stiff and weird, which was a result of his being an alien and all. Which made the whole romance thing seem a little forced. Because when exactly did they fall in love? I get that he's beautiful (how many times did she say he looked like an angel?) but other than that he really isn't anything super special.

But enough about characters. The world building was, by far, where The Cage excelled. As soon as Cora arrived in her enclosure and the surroundings started being described, I was totally hooked! The eight different biomes all within sight just sounds so insane! It's something I'd kind of love to see... And the description of the town left chills going up my spine. How creepy would it be to walk into a ghost town that had buildings from multiple different cultures down the street? The reference to Disney World (Epcot) didn't hurt either!

The amazing world Megan Shepherd created made me really, REALLY wish she had done a lot more with the story. Because it had the potential to be amazing.

There were plot holes everywhere. For example, if the Kindred (aliens) were watching them, why did it matter if they could "shield their thoughts" via pinching while having the conversations out loud? Wouldn't they just hear them? I refuse to believe these super intelligent aliens built a cage this high tech and didn't install a speaker system to hear the humans inside. Come on.

Cora's backstory was also extremely unbelievable.

(Highlight for spoilers.)
Okay, so her dad drunkenly kills someone and she takes the blame because... what? Because he's a politician with a career that's super important? Are these people all high?? What about Cora's career? How do her parents expect her to get into a decent school or get a decent job with MANSLAUGHTER on her record? I understand her being dumb enough to think that would work out, but her parents? At one point Cora tells Lucky "it's what anyone would have done" because it was for her dad. Um... no, Cora. It isn't what anyone would have done. Maybe I'm just a cold-hearted bitch, but if my drunk dad KILLED SOMEONE I wouldn't take the blame for it. Sorry. Seriously, these people shouldn't be allowed to breed.

I wanted to like The Cage so much. I wanted to LOVE it! It had everything I could ever want! My favorite Twilight Zone episode written by an amazing author! Okay, maybe that's not everything I could ever want... Either way, it wasn't good. I've been going back and forth between one and two stars all day, but I'm settling on two because the world was really good! I just wish everything else had been.