Title: Uncaged (The Singular Menace, Book 1)
Author: John Sandford and Michele Cook
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Uncaged follows Shay Remby as she searches for her brother, Odin, who disappeared after a Singular animal testing laboratory was ransacked in Eugene, Oregon. Shay discovers that Odin is traveling with an animal rights group called “Storm” and follows him to Hollywood, California. Upon her arrival, Shay meets an artist named Twist, who owns a hotel for street kids, and decides to stay with him. As she attempts to find her brother, Shay begins to uncover the secrets that Singular is trying to keep hidden. With the help of West, a disgruntled Singular employee, and a few new friends from the Twist Hotel, Shay concocts a plan to break into the Singular facilities and save her brother from a horrible fate.
The novel is told from various viewpoints and because of this, I never grew especially attached to any of the characters. The majority of the book is told from Shay’s perspective. I liked her as a character and appreciated her determination to find her brother. The other portions of the book were told from different characters within the Singular corporation. Besides West, none of these characters seemed to have much personality. They were static, stereotypical “bad guys” and I didn’t think their chapters added anything to the novel. I would have preferred their portions being cut in favor of some additional character development amongst Shay and her friends.
The supporting cast in Uncaged was pretty entertaining. Twist owns the hotel that Shay finds herself staying in. Twist is a street kid turned wealthy artist and because of his humble beginnings, he takes in street kids. I thought he was an interesting character and a good companion for Shay. Shay befriends a few other fellow street kids while at the Twist Hotel, such as Cruz and Cade. Sandford and Cook allude to a deeper background behind both boys, but it’s never elaborated on. Shay’s roommate, Emily, was also interesting and I wish her character would have been developed more as well. Although Odin wasn’t in the novel very much, I thought that his relationship with Shay was very endearing.
The villain in Uncaged wasn’t a person, it was a corporation. Singular owns the laboratory that Odin helped break into and it is allegedly attempting to merge humans and machines. Throughout the novel, the operations and people of Singular are very vague and all that was revealed was that it’s a very important company that will go to great lengths to keep their operations private. There wasn’t much personality from any of the characters that worked for the company, aside from West, and I was never really interested when the book would venture into any of the Singular character’s points of view.
This novel is the first in a series and it unfortunately ends in the middle of a scene. Although I don’t normally mind when a novel that ends in a cliff hanger, this novel stops so abruptly that it’s jarring. There’s absolutely no resolution and I thought that it made the ending slightly frustrating.
In terms of the genre, I would definitely say that it’s a more mature YA book in terms of subject matter. There are a few graphic scenes, including torture scenes, that may not be appropriate for younger readers. There are some scenes throughout the novel that involve animal abuse.
Overall, I thought that book was okay. It’s a very easy read, but I was never really invested in it. The novel became very science fiction oriented and without a connection to any of the characters, I wasn’t hooked. I honestly don’t think there was much character development at all. I think that if you are more interested in a plot-based story with bits of science fiction sprinkled in, you may enjoy this book more than I did.
If you have read Uncaged, please share your thoughts in the comments. To view Uncaged on Amazon, click here.