THE CAGE by Roy Brown


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In the same staccato style as his suspenseful Find Debbie!, Brown constructs The Cage, an underground catacomb where eight teenage amnesiacs inexplicably find themselves. The names outside the boys' cells are their only tip-offs to their identities although Raxby's flash remembrances of prison life and O'Malley's track-marked arms point to troubled pasts. Right away it's clear--to readers at least--that the group is part of some sort of mind control experiment, but happily this doesn't turn out to be the usual evil brainwashing scheme. Instead, church and state are in cahoots, trying out a new amnesia-causing drug with the intent of wiping the slate clean for the eight delinquents and, through temporary imprisonment, conditioning them to become survivors. Brown makes it quite clear where his sentiments lie: ""We are our scars, man,"" heroin addict O'Malley tells Bainbridge, the ""informer"" (actually social worker) in the group. ""That's what makes us human. . . . You aren't saved by having yourself destroyed, obliterated."" And the whole experiment literally goes up in smoke when pyromaniac Landers sets fire to their cloister-prison. If at times Brown plays it too cagey, dropping half-hints that take a long time to add up, this is still worth following. . . . A convoluted but thoughtful conundrum.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Seabury