Author: Catherine Fisher
Hardcover: 448 pages
Author: Catherine Fisher
Hardcover: 448 pages
Incarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells, but also metal forests, dilapidated cities, and vast wilderness. Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, has no memory of his childhood and is sure that he came from Outside Incarceron. Very few prisoners believe that there is an Outside, however, which makes escape seems impossible.
And then Finn finds a crystal key that allows him to communicate with a girl named Claudia. She claims to live Outside- she is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, and doomed to an arranged marriage. Finn is determined to escape the prison, and Claudia believes she can help him. But they don't realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost more than they know.
- Overall rating: 9/10
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A young man's desperate quest to find his way out of a mysterious and terrifying prison collides with the court intrigue of a technologically-advanced world that has been forced into a faux bygone era by its oppressive rulers in Catherine Fisher's Incarceron. This highly original sci-fi/fantasy follows two characters - Finn, a young man who is trapped inside the frightening Incarceron, and Claudia, the clever daughter of Incarceron's warden. With their own fates depending upon their every choice, Finn and Claudia must navigate their way through two worlds filled with dangerous threats.
What I Liked:
- The inventive world-building is shown rather than described. Fantasy novels sometimes suffer from too many dry descriptive passages, but this book jumps right into the thick of things and reveals the world through the characters' experiences. Not only is the prison environment intriguing and menacing, but the odd faux-historical nature of the outside world is also fascinating and strangely suffocating.
- Claudia is a brave, observant, and determined heroine. She is calculating, has a complicated relationship with her father, worries about her tutor's health, feels compelled to help Finn escape, and dreads her arranged marriage. I loved her calculating nature and her ability to play the games necessary to her success at court.
- The relationship between Claudia and her tutor, Jared, is one of my very favorite aspects of this book. She trusts and cares for him, and he would willingly risk his life for her. Jared is wise and devoted, and he knows Claudia as well as she knows herself. His cautious nature provides the perfect balance to Claudia's bold personality. When I first read this book's description, I imagined I would be rooting for a romance to blossom between Claudia and Finn, so I was surprised to find myself utterly charmed by Jared. Their relationship has a quiet, unspoken subtlety that I loved.
- Finn is a compelling character with a strong conscience. His past is mysterious. His relationships with Keiro and Gildas are interesting and potentially dangerous, and it is easy to find yourself hoping for his escape.
- I liked the complexity of the court intrigue and look forward to learning more about the outside realm in the next book.
- The secondary characters are enjoyably memorable, each with their own motivations and vibrant personalities.
- Finn's journey through Incarceron is like a hazardous and twisty roller coaster ride, and the dramatic tales of an individual who escaped from Incarceron help propel his quest forward. These legendary tales of Sapphique are relayed by one of Finn's companions, and are also shared in little snippets at the start of several chapters. They often sound like passages from a richly-detailed mythology, and they help explain Incarceron's history as well as offering hints about the events to come.
What I Wished:
- The shift in perspective between outside and inside Incarceron is occasionally frustrating. Most of the time it is skillfully used to build tension, leaving a character in one location in peril while the perspective shifts to the other location to reveal some crucial information. It does draw the story forward and keeps all the characters in focus even when they are in two separate worlds, but I sometimes found myself wanting to hurry through the chapters set within Incarceron in order to see more of the outside world.
Incarceron is the type of well-crafted fantasy world that is so full of mysteries that you find yourself hanging on each chapter wondering where the characters are heading, and the science fiction elements in this story succeed in bringing the stakes up several notches. I would recommend it to fans of sci-fi, fantasy, and dystopian fiction. And I very much look forward to reading the sequel, Sapphique, which is scheduled to be released in the US on December 28th! If you would like to learn more about Incarceron, please visit Catherine Fisher's website. I was excited to learn that Fox 2000 has purchased the film rights to Incarceron because this is definitely a story I would love to see take shape on the big screen.