January 10, 2017
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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 kind hearted. 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.
I have to admit that I really was not expecting to like A List of Cages as much as I did - to love it as much as I did. Both Julian and Adam are each incredibly endearing right from the very start, in their own, different ways. I liked them both immediately. Author Robin Roe did a great job really giving us a full picture of who these characters are - at school to the other students and to the teachers, at home, and in the past - and what and who helped to make them that way.
From the description, I was expecting the story to be more centered around Julian, with Adam more of a secondary character but the story is really balanced between the two of them. It is great the way we alternate between Julian and Adam's perspectives and get to see each of their lives.
The way that Adam and Julian knew each other in the past, along with how (and why) Julian was (but is not) Adam's foster brother was also very different from what I anticipated. I liked that it wasn't what I had assumed and the opportunities those differences created.
Adam and Julian's interactions, what they bring out of each other and how it impacts their relationships and dealings with other people is fantastic. It works really well that there's that foundation there from the past, but also some serious misunderstandings (or secrets or lies or just unknowns).
“Emotion courses through every sentence of this novel, whether it is love, compassion, or bone-chilling cruelty. A triumphant story about the power of friendship and of truly being seen.”
—Kirkus, starred review
In a whole lot of ways A List of Cages was more than I thought it would be. The characters are fantastically developed, their histories are well thought through and their present day both nicer and sweeter and funnier but also darker and more dangerous, too.
review copy received thanks to publisher, via NetGalley