Monday, May 23, 2016

THE HUNT by Megan Shepherd

Rating: B+
The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in the second novel in this gripping and romantic YA series about teens abducted from Earth by an otherworldly race—from Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of the Madman’s Daughter series.
They’ve left the cage—but they’re not free yet.
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.
My thoughts on the book:
I really enjoyed The Cage, and I was super excited to read The Hunt, but I was also apprehensive because so many second books are awful. However, Shepherd did not disappoint. This novel was better than I expected it to be, and I absolutely fell in love with it. The characters' grew throughout the book, the plot had a constant sense of urgency and alternated between sweet moments and dark moments, the pacing was spot on, and the writing was top notch. 
Cora grew up a lot in this installment, and I really enjoyed following her through the story. Mali and Leon developed a lot more, too, and I'm still a sucker for Cassian. I also gained some respect for Nok and Rolf this time around, and everyone really did their part. Lucky was another character who earned my respect. I liked some of the new introductions, but some of them, like Pika, annoyed me. I couldn't feel much sympathy for her, which kind of made me feel like a jerk.
The plot kept me engaged from the first page forward. The idea of the Hunt menagerie was horrific on many different levels than the menageries mentioned in the first book. What the animals and people went through in that menagerie broke my heart. I was engaged and sympathetic to everyone's plight, which isn't something I'm normally capable of in books with multiple viewpoints. Also, Nok and Rolf's situation was extremely twisted. I was concerned about everyone. Cassian managed to win me over again. I'm a sucker for aliens, apparently. The pacing was pretty fast, and I flew through the pages. Nothing felt rushed, though, except for the ending. It ended in a cliffhanger, and I really hate cliffhangers, hence the B+ instead of an A.
Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a unique and well-written sci-fi adventure. You won't be disappointed.

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