I have heard wonderful things about this book and couldn’t resist the idea of a vast living labyrinth of a prison. There is a going to be a sequel to the book called “Sapphique” that will be released in December 2010 (it is already released in the UK). This was a very good book, that I kept feeling could have been even better if we had gotten greater depth on the prison itself.
Incarceron is a living prison. Originally designed to be self-sustaining and a paradise for those criminals sent there fore rehabilitation; things have gone wrong over the centuries. Incarceron is now a pit of despair, with inmates only hoping for one thing…escape to the Outside. Finn is a boy born in the cells of Incarceron, supposedly created by the prison itself. Finn, thinks that he can remember the Outside and will stop at nothing to try and find out who he really is. Claudia lives on the Outside and is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron. She hopes to escape an arranged marriage. Two keys bring the characters together. Finn tries to outwit the prison itself, while Claudia struggles to make sense of layers of intrigue at court.
Fisher has created an incredibly interesting world. The concept of Incareron is interesting, it’s been done before, but it is interesting to read about it in more depth. At times it reminded me of the movie The Cube or of The Red Queen in Resident Evil. Incarceron recycles everything and decides the fate of its denizens. I loved some of the scenes in Incarceron, but couldn’t help wishing that more adventures had taken place in Incarceron. I felt like Incarceron has a lot of potential as an awesome setting for numerous adventures, but that we barely got to scratch the surface of it in this book.
The book itself switches between Finn and Claudia. I have to say I enjoyed Finn’s story in Incarceron much more than Claudia’s. Claudia’s story takes place in the Outside in a world that still has the technology of the future available but is forbidden to use it because of the Protocol of the current rulers. Because of the Protocol, society is stuck in a medieval-like courtly state. Claudia’s story deals mainly with intrigue and trying to outmaneuver both her father and the Queen.
The writing for the story is pretty good, it is easy to read and a good balance of description and action. The characters are okay but characterization wasn’t the books strong point. I didn’t care about any of the characters all that much. I do have to say that all of the characters were an interesting balance of good and bad, but this didn’t make any of them particularly likable. The strong point of this book is really the creativity of the setting and the world.
I just couldn’t help feeling like this could have been an absolutely amazing read if we had spent more time in Incarceron and less time with Claudia. I also felt like the book should have been longer and dealt with more things in detail; like how the Protocol was put into place and how the Masters got their standing. These things are discussed briefly but could be so much more interesting and add so much to the story. At times I also felt like this would have made a much better adult novel. There are many atrocities in Incarceron but in general they are dumbed down to make it safe for younger readers. I just think that this concept would have been wonderful in full detail as an adult novel…it was almost like too much had to be glossed over to make it PG.
Overall a great read and I will probably read the sequel. I just wish the idea had been filled out a bit more, because it is a fascinating idea and world. Maybe Fisher can write an adult series about Incarceron in the future.
This book went towards the following reading challenges: