Today I have the honor of reviewing my new favorite book.
You know those books that keep you up all night? The ones that you can’t put down? The ones where you fall in love with the characters? Well, A List of Cages was each of those things, and more. It was simply amazing.
I don’t do reviews a lot, but I had to make the exception for this book. It deserves a full review that properly displays just how much I loved it. Prepare yourself for lots of raving.
First of all, I got this book from my library (and talked about it in Monday’s library haul) because it had been on my TBR for a while. I can’t remember how I heard about it, but I’m about 99.9% sure it was from Marie’s blog. That’s honestly where I get most of my book recommendations…so thank you, Marie. 😉
Title: A List of Cages
Author: Robin Roe (author website here)
Page Count: 310
Genre: YA Contemporary
Goodreads + Goodreads Summary
When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.
Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…
Before I get into the review, I want to warn any potential readers that there is some mature language in this book, so if you’re sensitive to that, then just be prepared for it. (It’s not very frequent, though.) Also, there is a major trigger warning, but it’s kind of a spoiler? So, I’ll use the little toggle thing if you want to see it.
Child abuse and violence
Wow, I have so much to say about this book.
This is the kind of book that you don’t just read and forget about. I read it and stayed up for an hour longer, staring into space and thinking about this book. It just got in my head that much! So if this review is rambly, it’s just because I have so much to say.
First I’m going to rave about the plot and pacing, but since I don’t want this review to give any spoilers (I just want it to
force you gently suggest you read this book), I won’t talk about it too much. 😉
The pacing was incredible! From the very first chapter, I was hooked. I picked this book up to read for about twenty minutes before I went to bed, and I ended up staying up for three hours and didn’t put it down until I had finished the entire thing. It literally never left my hands for three solid hours. XD That just shows how intriguing it was!
Also, it was SO well-written?? Starting at page 1, I thought to myself, wow, I love this writing. It. was. perfect. And it was multiple POV which I love, and it was only two perspectives (the two main characters), so it didn’t get confusing.
I almost never dog ear books that don’t belong to me, but there were a couple parts that I loved so much I knew I had to share them. For example, the author managed to tie in Harry Potter (all the heart eyes) and make my bookworm soul incredibly happy.
“Getting smacked in the face with a Harry Potter book does not qualify as a fight,” Charlie says.
“First of all, it wasn’t just any Harry Potter. It was Order of the Phoenix.”
Matt gasps. He knows that Order of the Phoenix is the longest and most potentially dangerous of all the Harry Potter books when being used as a weapon.
–A List of Cages, p. 75
Y’all. This just makes me so happy. They mentioned Harry Potter! And they mentioned how Order of the Phoenix is the longest one! *screeches*
Anyway, this book was just incredibly well-written. And it mentions Harry, so that’s just another reason to love it. 🙂
My absolute favorite part of A List of Cages were the characters.
I truly felt like I knew the characters. They made me smile, they made me laugh out loud, and they made me cry real tears. I felt connected- both to the main characters, and to the cast of side characters.
First of all, we have Adam. Adam is a senior, he’s super clumsy, and he is a ray of sunshine. I love, love, love Adam, and here’s why.
- He’s popular, but he’s nice to everyone. There are specific examples where he strikes up a conversation with the people at the bottom of the school chain- and why? Because he truly cares about everyone.
- He’s always smiling and laughing.
- He even makes friends with a security guard at a museum??
“…then an elderly security guard yells at me for stomping…I explain to the old man that I wasn’t stomping, but my feet fell asleep and I was doing that thing where you jump around to wake them up. We end up talking and I find out his name’s Gus and he has four kids and nine grandkids. He shows me a private exhibit of swords that’s closed to the public, so okay, maybe things are looking up.” – A List of Cages, pg. 140
- He has the best relationship with his mom (they have game nights and watch shows together, and she’s the best ever)!!
- He always tries to do the right thing.
- He invites Julian (the other main character) along to everything he does with his friends, even though Julian’s only a freshmen.
Please, if you don’t read this book for anything else, read it for Adam.
Or read it for Julian, the other main character. Julian is a freshmen, an orphan, and lived with Adam before Julian’s uncle claimed him. He’s pretty quiet, kindhearted, and has so many secrets he’s hiding. I can’t say much about Julian with spoiling some things, but he’s honestly so sweet and just…my heart.
Finally, there is an amazing cast of side characters!
I hate it when side characters just get pushed to, well, the side. I don’t expect to know their life stories, but it’s nice to feel like they’re a part of a story. Adam’s (and Julian’s) group of friends are always popping up and end up playing really important roles.
- You’ve got Emerald, the girl Adam is secretly in love with and who is so kind and sweet and beautiful.
- Then there’s Charlie, Adam’s best friend, who is tough and kind of frightening, definitely the sort of person you want on your side of the argument.
- Allison, Charlie’s girlfriend, who’s the mom of the group.
- And twins Camila and Matt, who are just loyal and great friends. (And of course, as seen above, Matt has great taste in books.)
There are more side characters (such as Julian’s uncle), but for fear of spoilers, I won’t get into them. This review is also getting very long, oops.
This is a powerful story. It’s not light or fluffy, it deals with things that aren’t the easiest to read. It’s hard to read, but it is amazing. The characters, pacing, writing- I truly loved every second of this book. It made me think, and that’s important in a story.
If it wasn’t already obvious, I award A List of Cages 5 stars, and I really do highly recommend it. It’s one of my new favorite books, and I know I’ll be rereading it soon!
And that concludes this lengthy review. 🙂 This is the most excited I’ve ever been about writing a review before (usually I don’t love writing them) because I just couldn’t wait to share this book with you all. I loved it.
Also, fun fact- this is my 100th post on Purely Olivia! I can’t believe I’ve done a hundred posts, and I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather be my 100th post. XD
Have you read this book, and what did you think of it? Do you want to read it now? Do you love getting to know the “side characters?” I’d love to chat with you in the comments!