This is my third book by Susanne Valenti — the third in the Cage of Lies series. I read the first book for an ARC review, the second book I bought off Amazon, and the third book was provided by the author as an ARC for an honest review. If you haven’t read the first two books, there are major spoils for them in my review. And to be fair, why would you be looking at this review if you hadn’t read the first two books?!
Overall my review is quite favorable. I haven’t read Valenti’s short story Cut Glass, but I will at some point. Crystal has potential to be one of my favorite characters.
by Susanne Valenti
January 31, 2016
Format: ebook, ARC
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Rating: 3/5 Moose
Following the death of her boyfriend, Coal, Maya has one goal in mind: revenge. In her warped reality, only one person understands her, Coal’s sister Alicia. Together they plot to head to the City and get their revenge on the Wardens and Gregory. These plans are derailed when Jayden stumbles across a radio broadcast and overhear plans of the Wardens attacking the town. The chance for revenge might be closer than Maya thinks.
Most of the characters are recurrent from the previous books. There are a few new red shirts in the form of townies, plus some new wardens.
Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts
Kudos on giving Blaine a love interest. I enjoyed his story line all the way through. If the book had more of his point of view, or Alicia’s I would have enjoyed it a good bit more I think.
I am rather bummed with how Laurie is portrayed in this book. She was my favorite character in the first two books, but in this book, she is a bratty teenager who is pissed that her boyfriend (the guy in charge, trying to keep everyone alive) can’t say he loves her. And every time he tries to talk to her about it, she blows him off. I hope this goes away soon, because again — Laurie was my favorite character.
There are potentially too many protagonists in this series. Who is the big bad? There are the mutant animals and plants, there are the Creepers and their creepy (haha) leader, the City and Wardens, and the other potentially murderous scavenger groups. I honestly forgot all about the Creepers and their potentially regular human leader — and they were the protagonist I enjoyed about the series.
Maya rubs me the wrong way. I get being one tracked minded. I get wanting revenge. I don’t get why she blatantly is ignoring orders, especially from people who have a better grasp on reality and planning. And she’s a little too…much in this book. She saves the day a little bit too often for my taste, while Alicia — someone who grew up learning to fight and training — ends up injured and out for most of the book. Also, she’s almost completely forgotten to care that her parents are in jail and have been for YEARS. Want revenge? Then want revenge for that too.
I am on the fence about the whole love triangle (square?) in this book. I get needing to feel human and intimacy, but I haven’t cared for Taylor in any book. I think Maya is taking advantage of his feelings, but I think Taylor is taking advantage of her vulnerability. Part of me feels it’s too soon for a rebound anything, but then again, is it?
There is a twist at the end of the book (which I kind of figured and guessed what would happen). Part of me is glad it happened, or Maya was going to get really insufferable. I think my biggest issue with Maya is that she is so okay with dying, and I mean, I get it. Your (perceived at 16 years old) soulmate has died. But there is more to live for, and your whole life shouldn’t center on a guy. It’s a very teenage ideal, but yeah.
On the whole, the book is pretty well written. It could have used one more pass by an editor or with someone slightly removed from the story — there are a few missed periods, a few weird page breaks, and repetitive phrasing (i.e. “I woke up without screaming for the first time in a long time” or “the food tasted better than it had in a long time / I hadn’t been this hungry that food tasted this good in a long time.”) Paraphrasing, of course — my tablet is currently dead. But seriously, the book is well written, especially compared to some other YA books I’ve read and instantly stopped.
I do also like that at one point, Hunter essentially tells Maya this is all her fault. In reality, this is 85% true. I think Gregory would have eventually sold out the town even if Taylor, Maya, and Laurie hadn’t run away. But there are many deaths that Maya should feel guilty for, and she doesn’t seem to feel it.
GIVE LAURIE MORE DEPTH PLEASE!
Now that I have that out of my system.
I am in the minority on how I feel on this book, based on the reviews that are rolling in on Goodreads. I am so glad that Susanne has such a great following! While I do think this book could have been revised a bit more, the series on the whole is good. I’m curious to see what’s going to happen next.