Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure, Mystery, All That Jazz
Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars
Summary: Finn is a prisoner. So is everybody else he knows. For the past few years (which are the only ones he can remember) he has been Scum, the lowest of low, and a member of a violent gang in the enormous prison world of Incarceron. Some people have given up believing there is such a thing as an “Outside” (only the religio-legendary Sapphique has ever escaped) but Finn has dreams of an un-remembered past where he can see the stars.
Claudia is the Warden’s daughter. She has lived a life of luxury and bounty, a life of rules and Protocol, she’s engaged to an asshole who can make her queen, and she’s determined to destroy all of it. She and her teacher Jared begin to uncover disturbing secrets about the kingdom and the lost prison Incarceron.
When Finn and Claudia discover keys that allow them to communicate, they grow closer than ever to the only thing they’ve ever really wanted: Freedom.
There’s A LOT going on in this book, I’ll do my best to talk about it coherently.
This is the first book I ever read on my Kindle and I loved it (both the book, and reading on a Kindle). It was sort of an impulse-read. I was scrolling through the YA options in the Kindle store, and the summary of this one intrigued me so I figured I’d give it a shot. I’m so glad I did. Fisher creates two really awesome worlds, each at the point of crisis, and refreshing characters to guide us through them.
I’m trying to figure out whether or not Incareron is going to *happen*. I gather it’s fairly popular. Not Hunger Games popular, and obviously not Harry Potter popular, but they’re making a movie of it starring Emma Watson and Taylor Lautner soooo… yeah, we’ll see.
I’m kind of looking forward to the movie because there’s so much for the movie-people to work with. Fisher’s writing is incredibly well-crafted and visual. In fact, a movie almost seems unnecessary, I could so clearly picture her worlds in my head. She creates some really tremendous settings, both beautiful and horrible.
The plot runs smoothly with some very traditional elements (nobody is surprised that Claudia is rebellious and wants to escape her arranged marriage and kind of has a thing for her teacher; Finn n co’s journey through Incarceron is very much an epic Journey touring through various locations and hindered by various enemies), but the worlds are so innovative Fisher creates the perfect balance, capturing the reader between the familiar and the unfamiliar.
Incarceron (the prison itself) is FANTASTIC. It began as an experiment of the distant past where all thugs, criminals, and general evil-doers were sealed inside–permanently, with no way in and no way out. The idea was that the outside world could live on in peace, meanwhile, Incarceron was a self-sustaining system where the people inside would never want for anything. It was supposed to cause them to form a perfect society, and legends say it is a paradise.
This is very obviously not true, considering the story opens up with Finn and his gang stealing from and willingly murdering members of the Civicry (people in Incarceron who have managed to form a somewhat normal society, if not a perfect one).
Incarceron is huge, potentially infinite (nobody really seems to know), some areas a maze of small, dark twisting corridors like sewers, others wide open, containing towers, towns, and silver forests. And it’s alive. Incarceron isn’t just the name of the prison, it’s an artificial intelligence that watches over its prisoners with red Eyes. Watches, and listens. It changes, and it creates. It’s scary and really freakin’ cool.
Meanwhile, Claudia lives outside in a world of “Protocol,” which means that modern society has been completely abolished (it’s implied the book takes place centuries into our own future), and by law everything must be “Era,” or otherwise come from something like the 17th century. Of course, rich people cheat all the time because they like to have toilets and computers and whatever else, but this leaves a lot of poor people (literally) in the dirt.
I was fascinated by both worlds (maybe a little more fascinated by Incarceron), and I think the only weak point in the book is the connection between them. Claudia and Finn both became characters in whom I had a vested interest, and it’s obvious why the two stories are put together, considering Claudia wants to find Incarceron and Finn wants to escape Incarceron, but really… I couldn’t always see why the two stories were put together.
I think this weakness partially comes from Claudia and Finn’s relationship: I wanted it to be much stronger than it was. They each find these magical keys through which they can hear each other’s voices and eventually see each other, but so much ACTION is happening on both of their sides, it’s hard for them to have more than a two minute conversation before being interrupted. I feel like they hardly get to know each other. They figure it out too quickly–ah, of course the voice from this magic key comes from a boy/girl inside/outside the prison, makes perfect sense! And while the keys themselves become very important at the end of the story, there didn’t seem much use for Claudia and Finn’s communications.
There are a lot of mysteries in this book and you’re going to figure out most of them ahead of time. Who is Finn, really? Where is Incarceron? The one mystery I couldn’t figure out, however, was Keiro. Keiro is Finn’s “oath brother”. He is attractive. He is arrogant. He is every Cassandra Clare hottie, except extremely lacking in the redeeming qualities department. And at the end of the book, you will have no idea whether you can trust him or not. I think this shows that Fisher knows what she’s doing–if you figure out a mystery early, it’s because she wants you to, because seeing that you’re right will be gratifying (it is!). But she leads you back and forth with Keiro, so that one second you’re sure he’s trustworthy, and the next, equally sure he’s not. I’m hoping that his story plays out into something significant, because despite being kind of unlikeable he has definitely caught my interest.
The story continues and concludes (a YA series with only TWO books??) in Sapphique, which I have started reading but haven’t gotten very far with yet because the beginning features Attia, my least favorite character in Incarceron. (I’m pretty sure she’s only there to create the opportunity for a Claudia-Finn-Attia love triangle, but so far that hasn’t happened, thank God.) However, I am looking forward to finishing the story. Incarceron leaves off at a huge cliff-hanger (kind of literally) and there’s LOTS of drama that needs to be resolved.
-Cool story, bro!
-Neat quirks like: it’s the future BUT ALSO THE PAST
-Incarceron is AWESOME
-Fisher’s writing is stellar
-The two stories aren’t as connected as they could be
-Attia (you’ll see what I mean)
I haven’t written the best description of this book. I think there’s a lot that would give it wide-range appeal, so if you’re the least bit interested DEFINITELY READ IT. At the very least, let’s all read it before the movie so we can complain properly when Claudia cries too much and Finn is… well, actually, I don’t know enough about Taylor Lautner to say what I’d complain about. MAYBE IT’LL BE GREAT. (Probably not.)