Read or Die

Review of Megan Shepherd’s THE CAGE

The Cage by Megan Shepherd

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As far as the concept of “aliens creating human zoos” goes, I’ve already determined no one will top Alan Dean Foster’s Lost and Found trilogy. (And not simply because of the injection of humor and pure nonsense) It isn’t a new idea – by any stretch – and I wasn’t expecting THAT aspect to wow me from Ms. Shepherd. The notion of “saving the human species from itself” wasn’t groundbreaking, either. (Of course, I should probably take into consideration this book was published in 2015, and I might have held a different perspective on our species eight years ago)

However, the introduction of wear and tear on the mind and body due to forced perspective was interesting. People tend to take for granted the limits of the human mind, and the constant headaches experienced by the characters – to say nothing of the unraveling of their sanity – added an injection of reality too many authors overlook. We’re capable of detecting the difference between “right” and “not quite right,” and Ms. Shepherd played with that boundary nicely. I’m not entirely convinced with the Kindred’s motivations for doing so (it exceeds my tolerance for plausibility), but the kernel of acceptance is there.

And while the characters are, delightedly, NOT the usual collection of teenagers one tends to find in these group dynamics, they also lack the growth curve to account for their movements. Cora, in particular, shifts from uncertain and weak to defiant in the blink of an eye. Her motivation is weak, at best, leaving her difficult to empathize with from the beginning. Mali ends up the most fully developed of the group, and she’s relegated to a secondary role.

It isn’t the strongest beginning to a trilogy, to say the least. However, I picked up all three books, so I feel obligated to at least venture one further in the hopes things improve.

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