Review: Uncaged by John Sandford & Michele Cook (Blog Tour)

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Uncaged by John Sandford & Michele Cook (Blog Tour)Uncaged by John Sandford, Michele Cook
Series: The Singular Menace #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on July 8, 2014
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

#1 New York Times bestselling Prey author John Sandford and Michele Cook debut a high-octane young adult thriller series.

Shay Remby arrives in Hollywood with $58 and a handmade knife, searching for her brother, Odin.

Odin’s a brilliant hacker but a bit of a loose cannon. He and a group of radical animal-rights activists hit a Singular Corp. research lab in Eugene, Oregon. The raid was a disaster, but Odin escaped with a set of highly encrypted flash drives and a post-surgical dog.

When Shay gets a frantic 3 a.m. phone call from Odin—talking about evidence of unspeakable experiments, and a ruthless corporation, and how he must hide—she’s concerned. When she gets a menacing visit from Singular’s security team, she knows: her brother’s a dead man walking.

What Singular doesn’t know—yet—is that 16-year-old Shay is every bit as ruthless as their security force, and she will burn Singular to the ground, if that’s what it takes to save her brother.

Hey everyone! Welcome to my stop on the Uncaged blog tour! Today, I’m sharing with you my 4-star review of this epic young adult thriller. Enjoy!

Uncaged is unlike anything I’ve ever read and it’s definitely not a genre I usually gravitate towards. However, I enjoyed every single second of this thriller; it was a fast-paced read that kept me on my toes, dying to know what happened next. I would sit down, intending to only read a handful of chapters and I would end up reading a huge chunk of the book in a single sitting – I just couldn’t put it down!

At first, I really didn’t connect with Shay, the main character. However, I liked her right from the beginning – does that make sense? Normally, when I can’t connect with a character, it ruins the story for me. But I had nothing against Shay, so I still enjoyed getting to know her and seeing her story and her journey. She was never weak or defenseless. She was always strong and able to take care of herself, but I definitely still saw a lot of character growth in her from beginning to end. She starts out as more of a loner, in desperate need to find her brother. From there, she really opens up and begins to trust the people she has come to consider friends. And before that, trust was definitely not something Shay gave easily to anyone besides her brother.

Odin was interesting… From the synopsis, it seems like Uncaged is his story, but it’s really not. His actions get the story going, but it’s really Shay’s story. Odin is more in the background. Shay had to go looking for him and he’s the reason Singular goes after Shay. Without Odin doing what he did, Shay never would have gone to California and never would have met Twist, Cade, Cruz, Emily, etc. So, as I said, his actions get the story going, but this is truly Shay’s story.

I loved, loved, LOVED Twist. When we were first introduced to him, I was completely confused and uninterested. I mean, Shay describes him as looking like the Cat in the Hat and below is one of the first interactions we have with him:

“‘Assault on me is an insult to Dum and Dee,’ the Cat in the Hat said.”

I mean… What?? But as time went on, I pretty much adored him and everything about him. Clearly, this book is some kind of take on Oliver Twist. The hacking, the group home, the leader (Twist) – and obviously his name alone incites comparisons. To be honest, my first thought was “This book reminds me of Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes… And that was a loose take on Oliver Twist. So if that’s the case, this must be a take on Oliver Twist, too!”

I loved West. I don’t think I was supposed to.. I mean, technically, he’s not one of the good guys – at least in the beginning. But there was just something about him from very early on that made me adore him. I can’t explain it beyond that without risking spoilers. I will say, though, that the way his story ended in Uncaged… It broke my heart!

I loved the secondary characters in this book, as well. Cade, Cruz, Emily – and yes, X, especially! They, along with Twist and Shay, were like a family. Maybe not in the beginning, but they came to be. They always had each other’s backs.

Despite how much I enjoyed Uncaged, I did have a few problems with it, as well. The plot and timeline were not straight-forward. We’d have two chapters in a row that were from Shay’s story. Then, we’d skip to Odin’s story and it was something that took place hours (sometimes days) prior to Shay’s chapters. It was really confusing. Also, there were too many characters and too many plots and I just couldn’t keep track of what was going on and who was who most of the time. I still can’t sort out who half the Singular characters are… However, over time, I did get used to the writing style and it became easier to understand what was happening.

There was also a lot of technical jargon that I didn’t understand and I had to stumble my way through it. It wasn’t so confusing that it ruined the story for me; however, the story would have been MUCH better if I’d understand it.

Finally, I’m a HUGE animal lover. Going into this book, I knew it dealt with animal experimentation and lab experimentation and I tried to look past it because the overall plot sounded epic, but certain scenes just absolutely broke my heart, so that was difficult.

But then that ending.. WOW! That ending was insane, action-packed, crazy… I could go on and on. My heart was in my throat for much of the ending. Several things happened that I didn’t expect. I love the set-up for book two, though, and I’m really, really excited to see what happens next!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It had an interesting plot and intriguing characters. Plus, it’s not something I normally read and it was nice to discover a new genre. I definitely recommend this book to fans of Oliver Twist, as well as to fans of books that feature computer hacking and Oliver Twist-like plots, such as Remember Me by Romily Bernard, Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes and Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon.