Saturday, August 5, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Gauntlet by Megan Shepherd

Title: The Gauntlet (The Cage #3)
Author: Megan Shepherd
Publication Date: May 23, 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 393
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Reviews for book 1 & book 2

The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in the final novel in the gripping and romantic Cage series, about teens abducted from Earth by an otherworldly race.

Cora and her friends have escaped the Kindred station and landed at Armstrong—a supposed safe haven on a small moon—where they plan to regroup and figure out how to win the Gauntlet, the challenging competition to prove humanity’s intelligence and set them free. But Armstrong is no paradise; ruled by a power-hungry sheriff, it’s a violent world where the teens are enslaved and put to work in mines. As Nok’s due date grows closer, and Mali and Leon journey across space to rescue Cassian, the former inhabitants of the cage are up against impossible odds.

With the whole universe at stake, Cora will do whatever it takes, including pushing her body and mind to the breaking point, to escape Armstrong and run the Gauntlet. But it isn’t just a deranged sheriff she has to overcome: the other intelligent species—the Axion, Kindred, Gatherers, and Mosca—all have their own reasons to stop her. Not knowing who to trust, Cora must rely on her own instincts to win the competition, which could change the world—though it might destroy her in the process. 

The Cage is a series that I have continued reading despite not actually enjoying it at all. Megan Shepherd had such a fantastic idea with this series, one that pulled me in because of its similarity to my favorite episode of The Twilight Zone. I read the first book expecting to completely love it, especially after loving her Madman's Daughter series, but came away extremely disappointed. Book two was just slightly better and here I am having read book three, even though I swore I wouldn't. I'm happy to report I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either.

The Gauntlet picks up just after the end of The Hunt, with Cora and Co. on Armstrong, a planet they've been led to believe will be their safe haven. They quickly learn all is not as they've been promised, however, and the action begins again almost immediately. The original crew finds itself split into three different groups all working towards a common goal - save the humans and win their spot among intelligent species.

Cora remains a character that I'm not sure whether I love or hate. On the one hand, she's incredibly dense to the point of being annoying to read about. On the other hand, her story is the best one out of all of them. I was totally fascinated by her fight to get to the Gauntlet and run it! I still don't really care at all about her love interest, Cassian, and luckily he wasn't in this book until over halfway through. I could really do without Nok and Rolf (whose name I just had to think for a full minute to remember) and their annoying storyline. I didn't totally hate Leon and Molly, but that's about all I can say for them. As you may have guessed, the characters are far from the highlight of this story.

Once again, this book had a lot of good ideas but there were also a lot of really dumb ones. Shepherd's use of evolution and DNA (see spoilers at the end) was so embarrassingly bad I truly can't believe they made it to the final draft of this book. Then there was the awful dues ex machina at the end. I was at least somewhat impressed that one main character died. The Gauntlet itself was pretty cool, although it was WAY too easily beat based on all we've been told for the entire series.

Like in the other two books, the world is really the saving grace of this series. I loved reading about all the different worlds Cora visited and I wish I could find fan art that shows the fake towns and buildings used as fronts from all of these books.

While this book was tolerable, it could have been a whole lot better. I had so many problems with this series that I was never able to enjoy it, which is a real shame considering all the incredible ideas Megan Shepherd has cooked up. I'll probably read whatever she writes next because I think she has great ideas! I just hope it's better executed than The Cage series.

  • I have no idea what the thought process was behind DNA in this book. One of the Kindred puts together a serum made of all the human DNA she's had access to as the officer in charge of genetics research. By injecting this DNA into Cora, Cora then has access to every memory and experience of every human whose DNA was in the serum. Somehow she communicates with them and they help her win the Gauntlet. So basically she cheats. 
  • Similarly, the use of the "evolutionary jump" was ridiculous. Apparently once Cora completes the Gauntlet and humans are officially an intelligent species, all humans magically become smarter. Or something. But it's at different rates based on how far away they are. I don't even know, man. 
  • Cora dies in the Gauntlet, which is required for her to win. She has to be willing to sacrifice herself for the good of the species. But somehow a last minute switcharoo is pulled by people who need her alive for a trade deal and instead of drowning in water, she drowns in some kind of fluid that keeps her alive. I just cannot with the fake dying.