Re-reading this, and my previous review, I don’t really have much to add. I was still just as enamored of the world as I was the first time I read this through.
I guess the only thing that I really felt myself questioning was that, knowing the twist in the end, I didn’t really see any links that made it make sense. If that sentence even made sense. I guess for the general purpose of the experiment I can understand, but I also feel like it was kind of a split personality for the character it centered on – he was the one he wanted to be when presented to us, and the one he was required to be when hidden from us?
Anyway, still really enjoyed this re-read.
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?
There are a lot of mixed reviews on Goodreads about this book, but personally, I thoroughly enjoyed it!
This is such a different alien story than other that I have read. There is the usual attraction between the alien and human, but it is so different, neither of them turn against their own people or abandon their core beliefs of what humanity is. And the way it ends! Oh my goodness there was a twist I didn’t see coming!
The other characters were all really interesting in their own ways as well. I started out liking Lucky and Rolf and disliked them to certain degrees as we got deeper into the book, then they both redeemed themselves a bit. Then there was Nok, who I didn’t like or trust from the beginning and was proven right about. And then there was Leon, who seemed like he’d be the stereotypical bully but ended up extremely complex and I enjoyed every time we got to hear from him. Mali, I don’t even know how I feel about her but she’s definitely an important one.
I loved how Shepherd mapped out how twisted all the characters were becoming. I didn’t know who was crazy and who was sane at moments. And while Cora was pretty rash sometimes, I sympathized with her the entire time and loved how determined she was to not be a victim. She had let so many things slide in her life and had grown accustomed to doing what others said that I really appreciated that when she decided to be strong she didn’t let it go. And as we learned more about her past it became clear that she had always had that strength and it wasn’t a stretch for her at all.
Cassian is so interesting. His interest in humans and their humanity is really intriguing considering what his people value in society. And when we bring in the evolution of the people in the cages it just gets more complex. I can’t wait to see what happens between he and Cora in the next books, I think it’s going to be a hard road for them, but I have faith because I really like them together.
The “love triangle” in this was also really well done. As well as the general originality of it all, the world building was fantastic and the character development so interesting. Overall, another great book from Shepherd.