by Catherine Fisher
pub: Jan 2010
Incarceron – a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology – a living building which is ever-watchful, and ever-vengeful -- and a typical medieval torture chamber. A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here.
In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison – a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device – a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn’s escape is born ...
Incarceron is like Häagen-Dazs ice cream, wonderful and of the highest quality, but enjoyed slowly. Incarceron is not an adrenalin fueled thrill ride but from the ingeniously written first pages, it sucked me in.
For the most part it consists of Finn and Claudia uncovering the truth about each other's respective worlds. It's done very well. I normally like faster paced books that give me jolts of excitement but this steady read kept me consistently engaged and turning pages, needing to know the end but sorry when it was over.
Finn is in Incarceron and Claudia, the warden's daughter, is on the outside. Through a little magic they are able to communicate.
Claudia is surprised that Finn wants to escape since the outside world has been told Incarceron is somewhat of a paradise. She has her own problems because she is slated to marry this creepy future king. She agrees to help him escape.
Yeah, I said king. Fisher has this crazy imagination and I loved it. Incarceron is a story set in the future, with amazing technology and advancements. HOWEVER, a while back the king decreed that people had to live like they were in the17th century, as far as ideals, dress and language.
The Protocol also includes the banned usage of anything automated. So while their world is run by computers, society is living in the past. Time has essentially been banned. I found this whole concept unique and a lot of fun.
In every chapter, I felt like I was reading the final twist only to happily discover that there was more. Yes, I got answers but they gave me more questions. Fisher parts out relevant information to help you slowly piece together the truth. Peeling back the layers is like a Christmas morning treat - opening this huge box only to find another brightly wrapped package inside, then another and another, until you finally get to the treasured nugget.
I enjoyed Fisher's writing style and her characterization is excellent. Her wonderful description has this unique world dancing off the pages. It comes alive. A few things were predictable. I figured out the mystery behind Finn's past but I loved where it was going and was satisfied, not disappointed, when I was right. It's the journey, folks, and this one is worth the price of the ticket - or book in this case.
Toward the end Fisher changes perspectives like a schizophrenic watching Rain Man.
Pictured: The idiot that lost the key in the first place
This can get confusing, switching quickly between several characters, but you're so engrossed in the story, who cares? Just buckle down and pay attention. And, quite frankly, you have to be on your game as you read this anyway. It is complex - in a good way - and really gets you thinking. It caused a few family discussions in the Kirk house.
Incarceron is great! Definitely a read for those who like a good mystery and intriguing, complex plots. And FYI, there's no sex or language so I can recommend it for younger readers too.
The Cover: Of the two, I like the one with the blue key. It's really cool! The other one is dull and boring.
First Lines: "Finn had been flung on his face and chained to the stone slabs of the transit way. His arms, spread wide, were weighted with links so heavy he could barely drag his wrists off the ground. He couldn't raise his chest to get enough air. He lay exhausted, the stone icy against his cheek. But the Civicry were coming at last."
Good first lines. It gets the reader curious and the next few pages really deliver!
The sequel, Sapphique, is due out in Jan 2011. I'd post the synopsis but it has too many spoilers about Incarceron so don't read the blurb until you finish Incarceron.
I think it sounds fantastic and I'll be first in line for a sequel. I did find two covers. I prefer the US cover (the one with the keyhole) for the same reason I like the US cover for Incarceron...because it's super cool.
Incarceron is one of the many great books available in our MegaBook Giveaway!