The Cage

The Cage

The Cage

by Megan Shepherd

Genre: YA Science-Fiction
Published: May 26th, 2015
by HarperCollins




When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn't know where she is or who put her there. 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.


The Cage is a good read. But it had the potential to have been a great one – if only it wasn’t struck by a severe case of ridiculous instalove.

People fall into the same routines of thinking day after day: toss an apple and it falls to the ground. Pick a flower and it withers. Fall asleep and wake the next morning.
But this? This was like dropping an apple and having it fall toward the sun.

16-year-old Cora and four other teenagers wake up with no idea where they are or how they got there. As they slowly begin to trust each other, they realize that their situation is more desperate than it first appeared: not only are they not on Earth anymore, but they’re the main exhibit of a twisted alien zoo. A zoo full of humans.

The five teenagers that are brought to this alien planet are all stereotypes to the extreme. There’s the flawless model, the generic nerd, the tattooed rebel, and the “nice guy” who knows more than he seems. And, unfortunately, there is really not much more development to the character’s than that. They’re simply stereotypes – nothing more, nothing less; and that made it so hard to connect to them because they felt so contrived and fake.

The story’s main flaw is the instalove that occurs between Cora, the beautiful, special protagonist, and Cassian, the “gorgeous” alien kidnapper. Without even truly getting to know her, Cassian starts obviously favoring Cora: he gives her more food and more rewards than any of the other four teens. And Cora, even though he kidnapped her and despite the fact that she barely knows him, supposedly loves him for that.


If you can get past the instalove, however, the story truly is very atmospheric. The world Shepard sets up – even though the history and world-building behind it might not be the strongest – is seriously atmospheric and just downright creepy at times.

A decent novel that I’d definitely recommend – especially to The Fifth Wave fans, but, unfortunately, not anything completely mindblowing.


45 thoughts on “The Cage

  1. Great review! I will most definitely be skipping this one (mostly for the sake of my health. This is one of those ones that makes me want to retch just reading the synopsis.) Seriously, another “special” protag with a love interest of another species? You have to be joking. Also, stereotypes. Ugh.

  2. Sounds like a case of Stockholm Syndrome. ._.

    Just the mention of insta-love has me rolling my eyes. And the generic stereotypes…*sigh* It’s sad when a potentially good book gets ruined by rookie mistakes. 🙁

  3. I have to admit that I loved this book. Even though all the issues you had with it are completely accurate, and I probably shouldn’t have liked it as much as I did. No, I definitely shouldn’t have. I also should NOT ship Cora with Cassian, but I DO. It’s one of those books where you can’t even explain WHY you loved it, you just did 😉 I totally agree about the atmosphere- it was phenomenal, and what really hooked me from the start! Great review. And the Schmidt gif is perfection!

    1. I can definitely see why you liked it Shannon – the world was so eerie and well-written, and I think I would have liked it more if the instalove and the character stereotypes weren’t there.

  4. Ah, shame this was underwhelming for you! Still, I really loved this author’s The Madman’s Daughter series — so I’m definitely going to give this one a chance. (And besides, the cover is really quite gorgeous!) Lovely review! I LOVE the sound of the atmospheric world, though.

  5. UGH I hate Stockholm Syndrome. It’s fine sometimes, but when the MC never gets a clue, it’s severely irritating. Also I hate when amazing concepts are ruined by poor execution. Buuuut since you said the rest of it was pretty good, I may have to check it out anyway, because this concept is so freaking interesting.

    Sarcasm & Lemons

    1. I think the concept is what saved the book for me – haha. It a shame because if the instalove and character stereotypes were eliminated it could have been a great book.

  6. OOHH, that premise grabs me straight away, but tbh, I’m kind of sick of the character stereotypes. And it seems whenever a group of kids are thrown together they’re ALL the stereotypes. Why aren’t there books where a bunch of nerds are stuck??? hehe, or any personality, really! But it seems unrealistic that a group of kids always fits the categories. If that makes sense. It may not. I AM RAMBLING. XD I’d still like to try this one, one day…but let’s just say it’s not top of the wish-list. xD

  7. Oh boo…I have this one to read sometime in the near future. Who knows when? hah That’s a bummer that the characters aren’t too fleshed out and gah, instalove. It’s everywhere! Hopefully I’ll be able to get past it and enjoy the overall story though. ahha


    1. I hope you’re able to overlook the instalove and character stereotypes Lauren! It really is a great book besides that.

  8. Sounds like it had a lot of potential, but I agree about the instalove thing, that gets painful, seriously, it is just so unbelievable at times. Still, I would keep an eye out for this book.

  9. I was vaguely interested in the premise, but the character archetype + instalove are instant turn offs for me. Life’s too short to read derivative books. Why do authors waste a potentially interesting premise on tired tropes! It makes me so so sad.

  10. The barfing gif for instalove LOL! It’s probably Stockholm Syndrome. I don’t think I can fall in love with the alien who kidnapped me, and he doesn’t even really KNOW me. But I think I will read this because I am curious about why people are caged in an alien zoo. Pretty creepy, though.

    1. The romance is a shame because everything else is so, so good Dre. *sighs* Definitely let me know what you think of this if you end up reading it.

  11. You recommend this to Fifth Wave fans? I don’t think I should read this book then. I hated that book! And from the sound of your review, looks like The Cage won’t be that much of a remarkable read either!Which is pretty disappointing, since I was really looking forward to read this book, because it was about aliens.

  12. Wonderful review for this. This is something I was very curious about, but wasn’t in a big hurry to read. I’m very happy to read this review though, you’ve prepared me for the insta love. I hate insta love, it can really ruin a book for me. But it is much easier to deal with when I know that it’s coming. I might read this, as it does sound like there are interesting aspects to it, but I won’t be in a massive rush to get to it.

    1. I hope you end up being able to deal with it better since you know it’s coming – haha. 😉 If you do end up reading it, let me know what you think Charnell!

  13. Instalove and stereotypes?! I don’t think I can handle that combination. >.< It's too bad because this sounds like such an interesting concept. Sorry you didn't love it quite as much as you had hoped, though I'm happy it wasn't a total flop for you. Great review as always, Zoe! 🙂

  14. I’ve seen a few mixed reviews for this one too Zoe, but most seem to share your sentiments exactly, it could have been epic, but the romance aspects were ridiculous. Instant love is horrid enough, without making her fall in love with her incredibly attractive captor. Stockholm syndrome gone horribly wrong it seems. I’m in two minds about this one, it sounds like an awesome read apart from that, but not sure it’s enough to urge me to crack it open. Fabulous review Zoe, glad you were still able to enjoy it somewhat nonetheless <3

    1. I hear your dilemma Kelly – other than the romance it really is a quick and entertaining read. Let me know what you decide, okay?

  15. YES. THANK YOU, ZOE. I did like it more than you (though agree on the characters, not much apart from the stereotype to them.) but I loved the whole human zoo psychological aspect, which was fun. BUT THE ROMANCE. Yeah, no. I mean, I could’ve dealt with the instalove with the one who knew her, what’shisface (I honestly can’t even remember his name.) but with Cassian? Haha no. no. no no no. Just no. The twist at the end did save it for me, but ugh, the romance made me want to gag.

  16. Oh no, it’s such a shame that the story kind of freezes in the mode it begins with and doesn’t develop any further. I would have wanted to see character development and let The Cage change them in some way – and it really seems like the insta love takes it all over. I am going to give this one a pass, personally :/ But great review!

    1. It really is a shame, because there is so much potential. Like, how did being in this cage affect them psychologically and emotionally? There’s so much that could have been explored but wasn’t. 🙁 Thanks Olivia!

  17. I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. But I just couldn’t. Cliches, tropes…it frustrated me. I know it’s supposed to be part of a series, but I don’t think I’ll be continuing. It’s too bad it wasn’t as good as the synopsis made it sound.

    Thanks for stopping by Writing on a Vintage Typewriter!

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