Is he just a troubled 17-year-old high school student? A quiet, intelligent kid with a bad home life? Or is he a shattered human being, a boy who lost his faith in the world when he discovered that his loving father was secretly a psychotic serial killer?
As Ethan’s world suddenly spirals out of control, he must confront the reality of his dark past and finally make the decision that will either define his life – or cut it short prematurely.
Starting any book is always a step into the unknown, this one does not disappoint with its unexpected start. From the get go we are misdirected from the usual to the stark and grim imagery (grimagery) but is this a good thing?
That depends on each reader of course. This book is targeted at the YA market but also smoothly crosses over into the adult readers world most satisfyingly. Kids these days are subject to so much in the way of adult concepts that perhaps they wold lap up the macabre nature of this book even though there is a lot of real world grimness pervading the story.
For us older readers we have a book involving drug use, self harm and some strikingly grisly images of a serial killer ilk, which is maturely done, in that nothing is gratuitous and there for its own sake, it has a part in the narrative.
Ethan, our protagonist is an introspective tortured soul, his teenage solitude with all those complex and confusing feeling of teenhood together with his being tormented by association with a serial killer even though innocent make for an extreme coming of age story. This confronting of past demons as well as the usual rigours of puberty has worries coming at him from all angles.
Mention of the superficial teenage angst shouldn’t put anyone off, yes it is repetitive and annoying by its very nature but necessary, compared to say The Catcher in the Rye which I found to be a very dull book. The Cage Legacy brings a more human and modern take on youth, something with pace and mystery that kept me reading.
Diary entries throughout the book round out Ethan’s character, his past and drives distinctively. The more I dwell upon it, the more I realise that nobody focuses on the family of serial killers, perhaps a thought is given but the fallout isn’t the story and so gets ignored. I like the idea of seeing life through such troubled eyes, from a less well-known perspective.
The supporting characters all have their issues as well, allowing subplots to swirl around the main plot whilst never distracting from it…if I had one gripe with the book it’s that some of these were not quite tied up at the end but this is a small issue and like life leaves you with something to dwell after you finish the book should you wish.
The tension is kept ramped up all the way to the end of this gory story with its rapid pacing and twists. I found myself obsessing over the most little of things, namely Mary and her welfare…but that is probably due my own idiosyncracies at work. I enjoyed this book a lot and would recommend it, however if you are going to get it for a teen reader, there are some genuinely chilling bits as well as references to the aforementioned drug taking, self harm, abuse and gore to be taken into account.