Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Book Review: Incarceron
"Incareceron is a prison unlike any other: It's inmates live not only in cells, but also in metal forests, dilapidated cities, and unbound wilderness. The prison has been sealed for centuries, and only one man, legend says, has ever escaped."
From the book jacket
Incarceron By, Catherine Fisher
Incarecron tells the story of Finn and Claudia. Finn is a prisoner in Incaceron who has no clue where he came from. No family, no past. in fact he woke up one day in a cell in Incarceron and started his life after being befriended by a group of "Scum" known as the Comitatus, taken under the wing of his blood brother Keiro. All Finn wants to do is find a way to escape Incarceron, and prove he is from the outside.A fact he as always felt from flashes of visions he has. Claudia is the daughter of the warden of Incarceron. She lives outside in a world known as "The Realm". A world doomed to live in a "protocol" of the past where the ancient practises of serfs and kings cover up the existence of technology and progress. She is betrothed to the Prince of the Realm, and the wedding will bring to completion a convoluted plot started by the Warden some years before to grant him power over the realm.
Finn and Claudia both discover a crystal key that leads them to each other, and the promise of escaping the worlds they live in. Claudia learns that Finn is indeed from the outside, and a more important player in the present power struggle of the realm than either one of them can imagine. She also learns that Incarceron is a experiment of social structure that has gone terribly wrong. While the people of the realm are lead to believe that Incarceron is a paradise of social rehabilitation, the reality is it's a world of pain and poverty. Locked for 150 years,the prisoners,and the prison itself, have created a whole society of fear and artificial intelligence. As we learn Incarceron is not a place, but a void in time. And Incarceron itself is Alive.
I really loved this book. All through it Ms. Fisher keeps us guessing and wanting to turn the page. It is an easy read, but at the same time compelling. The whole idea of a society existing in a world within a world, created by man, is both scary and fascinating. Finn and Claudia are characters you really get behind. Although Claudia is very egocentric and sure of herself,she has a hidden vulnerability that causes you to care about her. Finn is strong but unsure of himself. You can tell from the beginning that he is a young man of importance, and that he has really been taken advantage of by those he trusts. One thing I can say is that I figured out Finn's true identity pretty early in the book. But for me it helped move the story along. They are supported by a cast of strong friends and villains alike.(In fact Finns "blood brother" Keiro is one of those characters who you like and hate at the same time!) The Warden is a man that you really want to push out a window. But by the end you can see what desperation has driven him to the lies he has told and the path he has taken. The whole idea of the oppressive "protocol" they live in being a cover up for such an advance society is very thought provoking. A great book for fans of epic fantasy and the fairly new "steampunk" genre. (I felt myself comparing it to the Hunger Games government at times!) I loved it and give it two thumbs up. I am eagerly awaiting it's sequel "Sapphique" which I just ordered yesterday!