I didn’t even realize that I didn’t have any pictures of A List of Cages. What kind of human am I?
Alright. Let’s get into the stats on this book.
Genre: Hard Hitting Contemporary
Page Count: 320
Pub Month/Year: Jan 2017
Plot Rating: 4/5
Character Rating: 4/5
Ease of Reading: 5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5 (4/5 on GoodReads)
Recommend To: Anyone who wants a contemporary that will make them cry and feel all the feels.
Trigger Warnings: Child abuse (physcial and mental). This is a tough book to get through and I just want you to know that the abuse scenes are described in great detail.
Let’s start with a general summary. I like going into books knowing as little as possible so I’ll try to keep it to what I would have liked to know going into this book.
This story is a hard hitter, as I’ve already said. It follows two different POVs, Adam and Julian. These two boys have a history together due to a tragic accident in Julian’s past. At the time of this book, Adam is a senior in High School and Julian is a freshman.
Adam is helping out the counselor at the school and is assigned to make sure Julian actually goes to his appointments. During that time, Adam and Julian begin getting closer but Adam realizes that there’s something off about Julian.
Julian just wants to be blend in. He doesn’t want to cause trouble for anyone, especially his uncle, Russell. Anything to keep Russell from getting mad at him. But when Adam starts getting closer to Julian, how will he manage to keep the balance?
(I don’t know if that would be an accurate description of Julian’s side, but we’ll just go with it)
Ease of Reading
Now onto some of my thoughts. Let’s start out with how easy/hard it was to read.
This book was such a quick read for me. After going through the Shadow and Bone trilogy, I’ve been on a contemporary/romance kick. This was another that I managed to read in about 2 days (probably less because I had to work 8 hours both days and sleep during the day).
Now, just because it was a quick read, doesn’t mean it was mentally easy. This book broke my heart so many times. I don’t even know how many times I had to just put the book down because I was reading on my lunch and I didn’t want to break down and cry in the break room.
I still can’t stop thinking about a lot of what happened in this book. I’ve always been iffy about reading books with child abuse, but this book has pushed me to read more. I want to read A Child Called It at some point. I know that it’ll crush me.
This book read like a children’s classic would for me. All the books I read in school (like The Outsiders and The Giver) had the same feel, even though they were different subjects and writing styles. They just gave off the same feel while reading. Like this would be a book that someone would read in school. If that makes any sense.
I had the lovely Taylor proofread this for me and helped me keep it spoiler free. And she pointed out that during the Java and the Librarians live show, they mentioned Adam’s parts felt YA and Julian’s felt more MG. Which makes sense. Adam was a senior and Julian was a freshman. So well done with that, Roe.
Now onto the plot.
I was going to do characters first but the characters were such an important part of this story that, in my opinion, they were more important than the plot.
Now, the plot was kind of slow burning but it needed to be. A lot of time went by (I believe it was an entire school year) during these 320 pages but a lot seemed to happen with the character growth. I’ll get more into that in the character portion of this.
Plot wise, there was a lot of lead up to the turning point then a lot of lead up to the climax. But it was all necessary, in my opinion. With a story like this, there needs to be a lot of repetitive behavior and not too much “action.”
Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of “action” in this book. I’ll just get into the characters to get into that more.
The characters were my favorite part about this book. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such strong feelings about characters. There were characters I loved, characters I absolutely despised (like, more than Umbridge. Yeah), characters I just wanted to snuggle, characters that I needed more of. Everything. I love the characters of this book so much. Robin Roe did such a great job and writing them.
Now, back to the “action.” There were a lot of repetitive scenes and characters doing the same things over and over. But there was always something different. The characters were always changing. Like, (not spoilery) there are a bunch of scenes of Adam and his friends at lunch and every single one of them show growth in all of the characters. It always shows something different. I absolutely love that.
Characters make a story for me. If I hate the characters, I don’t care what happens and I don’t end up liking the story, usually. This book was everything. The characters were wonderful and that kept me very interested in what was going to happen to them.
*Disclaimer: this next part will be semi-spoilery, so tread carefully*
Now, there were some issues with the characters that did bother me and it bothered me a lot. The adults seemed to be useless. They were all either mean people or didn’t seem to care/realize what was going on. Which, I feel like is unrealistic. The way it was all handled would have been pretty obvious for teachers/counselors to suspect something and question it.
*Semi-spoiler is over. Now I have a major spoiler thought I need to share. Skip to Overall if you don’t want spoilers*
The most frustrating part of this entire book was Adam. When he found out about what was going on, he decided not to tell anyone. Which he also knew he should have but he listened to his friends. Which, it makes sense, a little bit. As a teenager, he doesn’t really understand completely what’s going on or how things should be handled. But Roe made him out to be so naive and that frustrated me.
*spoilers over! Continue!*
Overall, I adored this book. I only took away .5 stars because there was just something that I can’t put my finger on that make me take away that .5. There was just a little tiny bit of SOMETHING missing. I couldn’t begin to imagine what that is.
Maybe it was the fact that it was a bit slow at times, but I still loved those parts. They may have been slow “action” wise, but they were wonderful for the characters. I don’t know.
I love this book and if you think you can handle reading about child abuse from the victim’s POV, do it. I feel like as long as it’s not triggering for you, you should read it. It’s such an important read.
Have you read this book? What were your spoiler-free thoughts? If you’re going to put spoilers in your comment, either message me privately or say that you’re putting spoilers in it. If you don’t, I’ll comment. So people who don’t want to be spoiled while reading comments, check for the spoiler warnings.
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(All gifs from Tumblr, photos from Google or GoodReads)