Saturday, November 19, 2016

Distiller: Hikari Loftus
3.5/5 Stars

A List of Cages
by Robin Roe
320 pages
Disney-Hyperion (January 10, 2017)

Without spoilers, this story follows 14 year old Julian and 18 year old Adam. Alternating voices in each chapter, readers learn of the terrible to horrific life Julian is living and the impact Adam has on the lives of everyone he meets.

It’s often hard for me to remember how terrible kids were to each other in school, and when I began this I felt so horrified by the unkind things happening to Julian in school I was certain the author was over exaggerating to make the point of this novel clear. But after a lot of reflection, I remember cruelty like it was described in the book happening often. I even remembered being cruel to other kids occasionally. Remembering this made the importance of Adam in this story huge.

Adam is cool despite having none of the qualities cool kids stereotypically have, and we understand through Julian’s POV reflection and the way Adam’s friend react to him, that it’s Adam’s upbeat attitude and kindness that makes him a friend to all. I think everyone knows an Adam and knows what kind of positive impact that person has in their life and in their community.

Julian endures all sorts of torments. He’s lost his parents and the effects that has had on him and his life make him a target to others. But the main antagonist in this story is the one that readers understand the least, and the reason I was not a fan of the way the plot went down.

We don’t get much on this antagonist, until the moment that we get everything in the form of simplified explanations. And at that point there is a lot of information to process and not a lot of time to dissect it. And mostly it left me confused and wanting more, considering what kind of a horrible villain it was.

There was a lot of small details added to this story that seemed to be stretching towards significance, but kind of felt gimmicky to me.

I believe the story didn’t delve into the antagonist more because it might have detracted from the clear message this book is trying to convey. So, in that sense, I think it accomplishes what it’s trying to do: Convey kindness and see what makes the cages we find ourselves in, and which ones we can escape by choosing to.

The most powerful quote in this story for me is: “Hate ricochets, but so does kindness."

This, along with the thought that most people that are hateful or mean are that way because they are unhappy, really gave me something to think about as I read. Overall this book made me consider how much small acts of kindness can make a big impact on those around you, and on to those they meet. It also helped me ponder the cages in my life and helped me consider what kind of strength I will need to find my way out.

So in truth, there were things in this story that didn’t appeal to my personal reading tastes, but I can’t deny that the message is a strong one and one I want to share with others. (not to mention that so far on Goodreads I seem to be the minority, with most reviewers giving this five stars.) Your kindness matters and there is no such thing as a small act of kindness.


  1. This looks like such a great book! Thank you for the review; this might be going on my tbr pile.

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality