Release date: May 24, 2016
After their failed escape attempt, Cora, Lucky, and Mali have been demoted to the lowest level of human captives and placed in a safari-themed environment called the Hunt, along with wild animals and other human outcasts. They must serve new Kindred masters—Cora as a lounge singer, Lucky as an animal wrangler, and Mali as a safari guide—and follow new rules or face dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, Nok and Rolf have been moved into an enormous dollhouse, observed around the clock by Kindred scientists interested in Nok’s pregnancy. And Leon, the only one who successfully escaped, has teamed up with villainous Mosca black market traders.
The former inhabitants of the Cage are threatened on all fronts—and maybe worst of all, one of the Hunt’s Kindred safari guests begins to play a twisted game of cat and mouse with Cora. Separated and constantly under watch, she and the others must struggle to stay alive, never mind find a way back to each other. When Cassian secretly offers to train Cora to develop her psychic abilities—to prove the worthiness of humanity in a series of tests called the Gauntlet—she’ll have to decide fast if she dares to trust the Kindred who betrayed her, or if she can forge her own way to freedom.
After the utter betrayal Cora faces at the hands of Cassian, she is now in a different form of captivity. The kids from the enclosure of The Cage are now either placed in a menagerie for Kindred amusement or in a dollhouse for Kindred research. Either way, they are still slaves to these higher beings. When Cassian comes around urging her to help out the Fifth of the Fives and participate in the Gauntlet, which would raise the stations of humans throughout the galaxy, she gives in, partly to save their skins and partly because of her lingering feelings for him. Told from six perspectives, the plot builds a cohesive storyline around the fact of slavery and subjugating lesser species. Also, it builds on the plot that just because they are of the same species, that doesn’t mean humans can be trusted.
So, in The Cage, the primary ideology was what would happen if humans were treated the way we treated out wildlife. Now, they are a part of that wildlife, and they see the way they are being treated. Out of this, Lucky comes out strongly with his morality, his belief that their fight is not just for humans but for all lesser species. Seeing the animals in the safari, his heart empathizes with them and he wishes to free them, too, from the circular hell they all are going through. On the other side, Leon is learning about things he is willing to fight for. Basically, the disjointed mess of rage and aggression that these teens were in The Cage, who were so envious and ready to tear each other apart, are now the best of friends and care for each other immensely. The fact that there could be a world for them to return to is a big temptation that they have to overcome if they want to fight for the enslaved humans. The ending was, well, on a cliffhanger which makes me simultaneously dread and anticipate the next installment. This was a sequel that went ahead of its brilliant predecessor.
Received a free galley from Balzer&Bray, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
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