Buddy Review | A List of Cages by Robin Roe

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Today’s a special day on Ba_BAMB, because it marks my first ‘buddy’ review, and it’s with one of my favorite bloggers, Birdie Bookworm. If you haven’t checked out her blog, you should. I love her Flights of Fancy! Birdie and I have been buddy reading friends for a long time (she’s the only person on the planet who loves Damen and Laurent as much as I do,) and we’ve discovered so many good books together! I was so excited that she was up for it when I invited her to review A List of Cages with me. This book took us by surprise with its grit, but we powered through this emotional read and have lots to discuss!

A List of Cages by Robin Roe
Young Adult
Published on January 10th, 2017
ARC from Netgalley

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Book Blurb:

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… 

| Buddy Review |

Angie: Whoo. What a read. A List of Cages nearly did me in. If I had read it further out from when we chose to review it, I would have paced myself with this book. I had to gear myself up to reading. I don’t think this is a book that everyone is going to be able to swallow.

Birdie: I think most people would say it was well written, but yeah I think the subject matter is going to be tough for people to read.  I mean, I read a lot of YA books about some pretty intense situations, and A List of Cages was still hard to read.

Angie: Let’s talk about Adam. What a good young man he was. This is the kind of child you hope to have. He was kind and caring, and I love that throughout the book, you got to see that part of him start to influence his friends.

Birdie: I thought it was pretty powerful, the idea that you can help people in different ways.  I loved the idea that people needed Adam because of the light that he brought into their lives.  It was a really wonderful way to describe him.  It’s no wonder that Julian clung to him so deeply, even just in his memories.

Angie: Julian – this kid broke my heart. That he went from a home where he was so obviously and unabashedly loved to where his was killed me. And there was one scene where he extended kindness where it was so unexpected, it brought me tears. I was sobbing by the end of the scene. That someone could be so mistreated but still full of such compassion and willingness to care for others is so amazing.

Birdie: It was so awful.  I think it was layered too, because even if his uncle had just been cold or mean, that would have been horrible enough (after losing his loving parents).  Then, add to it just how horrific his uncle was.  Even if he’d never had great parents, I think I still would have struggled reading this.  The fact that it was BOTH, yeah I there were times I had to make myself keep reading.

I have to add, in addition to Adam and Julian, I actually really liked Charlie’s character.  I loved that he was a bit of a dick, but that as the story progressed you watched him melt.  Of all Adam’s friends, Charlie was my favorite.

Angie: I agree. I really liked Charlie’s character, too, and I like that he was able to eventually pinpoint what he was feeling. And that he took it a step further and shared it. I also loved how, even though his family wasn’t a huge presence in the book, they felt fairly fleshed out to me.

I did have two issues with this book – first Adam’s romance. I don’t really feel like the book was better for this. I don’t feel like it really added much to the story. And second, I thought the end was a bit drawn out. I think things could have been wrapped in more efficiently and kept a better pace.

Birdie: I didn’t mind the romance, in the sense that an 18 year old boy would have a crush on a girl and he was so dynamic it was hard to believe that she wouldn’t like him back.  I also appreciated how Emerald influenced the story and the decisions that were made, and how that made Adam feel in the end.  I also liked that Adam’s friends (including Emerald) adopted Julian.  I’m not sure the story was made better for the romance.  It could have been left out, and she could have been just a friend, and I would have liked the story just as much.  It just didn’t detract from the book, for me.

Angie: I agree the crush was realistic. I just didn’t feel it was pertinent to the story, and I think that time could have been spent on something else, or left out altogether, and that may have helped the pacing for me.

Birdie: I did have a hard time at the end.  I guessed how it would end, just because it had a predictable ‘bad guy’ ending.  I hoped it wouldn’t go there, and that the Uncle’s story would end more realistically.  BUT, this was countered by how well I think the author wrote the emotional scars left on everyone.

Angie: I guess that’s another issue I had. After the big event at the end (that I thought took too long to get to,) there wasn’t enough exploring of those feelings for me. But I do like how this book shows what a domino effect feelings are – the things you do don’t just impact one person. They have the ability to impact a bunch of people, for better or for worse, and in this case, we saw both.

Overall, though, even with the problems I had with this book, I think it was a wonderful read. And I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

Birdie: Absolutely.  My complaints were minor, because overall the story really got to me.  Great pick for our first BaBAMB buddy read.  🙂

Angie: It was a great read! Thanks so much for visiting Ba_BAMB!

| Our Rating |

4-stars

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