Author: Megan Shepherd
Publication: Balzer + Bray (May 26, 2015)
Description: 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?
My Thoughts: Cora awakens to find herself in a habitat with some other teens her age. Her last memory is of riding with her brother to a resort to meet with their parents. All of the others have also been snatched from their lives and put in the habitat too. They are being experimented on by aliens called the Kindred. Cora soon meets the Caretaker - Cassian - who explains what is required of them and befriends Cora.
The kids are paired up and Cora's partner is Lucky. He knew of Cora on Earth since she is a senator's daughter. But their relationship is closer than Cora can imagine. Cora has just spent 18 months in juvenile detention for manslaughter when she took the fall for her father's drunk driving which killed a woman - Lucky's mother. The experience has left her with claustrophobia and insomnia. It has also left her much stronger than she realizes.
A lot of time is spent developing the setting which pits the kids against each other. The other kids are a bullied genius, a girl who was sold by her Thai parents into what turns out to be a London escort agency, and an Australian near-criminal. Added to the mix is another girl who has been with the aliens since she was a young child. The alien scientists are constantly testing them and putting pressure on them. They seem to be doing things to isolate Cora from the rest of the group and force her to turn to Cassian. Shades of Stockholm Syndrome!
The story was an interesting psychological study. It clearly sets up sequels.
He was quiet for some time, and then very slowly rubbed the scar on his neck. "I understand more than you think, I could not have observed humanity for this long without being affected by it. The others of my kind are fascinated by the brightly colored parts of humanity: your clothing, your architecture, the tricks you can perform. I'm not as interested in those. I like the quieter part, like how humans wish on stars knowing they won't be answered. And what you told me once, about how some mistakes are worth making. I have made mistakes myself." He took the glass and took another sip, as though he could swallow whatever painful memories pained him. "That is why your capacity for emotional depth intrigues me. The Kindred do not have those notions. Forgiveness. Sacrifice. They are remarkable traits."I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.