Author: Megan Shepherd
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy | Science Fiction
Release Date: May 26th 2015
Review Source: HarperCollins Children | Edelweiss
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?
Straight away I knew this was a book I was going to enjoy. The summary, especially this part: "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." hooked me. One town with such a diverse mix of environments. How on earth does that work? Aliens, that's how.
It's been so long since I read something with aliens in. Like, I'm quite ashamed with myself that it's been so long that I've allowed myself to go this long without a healthy dose of extra-terrestrial creatures. Though the aliens weren't the primary characters (well, if you exclude Cassian) they really added to the story. Including Cassian, I had a wee crush on him. Which feels weird admitting considering he's an alien, but I don't care. I loved him.
Now on to the none-alienated living creatures. The humans. Five individual people who were kidnapped and placed in a human zoo. At first, at the 'human zoo' part I didn't know whether to just stare wide eyed at my kindle or actually say a string of confused words. The interactions between the five was....interesting. And by interesting I mean unpredictable. The selected few couldn't have been more different from one another. From their backgrounds to personalities, each individual was very different. It's very noticeable, too. They clash, they don't get along, and I bet the pressure of being caged in what they think is like a human zoo doesn't help either. At one point, they almost live up to being creatures in a zoo. Turning against each other and almost acting like savages, whilst Cora, being the defenceless one, runs for her life to avoid the others.
Going into this book I did expect more action, but it was more mellow than expected. The plot was unhurried, which was a much needed change from all the fast paced novels. The more we got towards the end, the more things kept kicking up a notch. The anticipation started to build then exploded with a ciffhanger at the end. A ciffhanger I totally didn't expect. I have a feeling book two is going to be more active, but that's just a guess on my part.
But back to the plot. Personally, I loved the connection Cora and Cassian had. Despite that he's an alien; I didn't find it weird or strange at all. Throughout the novel we don't find nearly enough out about the species, the main piece of information being that they're the most advantaged and intelligent species around. I didn't pout for more information on them, was content with what we were given. I didn't want an information overload. There's book two for that!