This is the sequel to Incarceron. I got an advanced reading copy of this book through Around the World Arc Tours. I liked it a bit better than the first book, you get to learn a lot more about Incarceron and about the Realm outside of the prison.
A lot happens in this book. Finn is struggling to fit in in the Outside world. Claudia and Jared are at Finn’s side and trying to help him remember his identity. Because of his birthmark Finn is the supposed Prince Giles of the realm. The Queen is not happy with this and will stop at nothing to discredit Finn’s claim to the throne. Inside Incarceron things are not much better. Keiro and the slave girl are traveling together and trying to acquire Sapphique’s Glove in hopes that it will lead them out of Incarceron; the Warden is also trapped in Incarceron.
Overall this was an entertaining read. A lot happens in this book and the plot moves quickly. Fischer’s strength as a writer is creativity. This is a very creative story, although some aspects of Incarceron have been done before. Basically Incarceron is a prison that gains awareness; this is something I’ve seen before in Resident Evil (The Red Queen taking over the building) or even the movie The Cube. I am sure there are other references, but overall this is a creative book and engaging.
The place this book falls short is characterization. None of the characters are all that engaging or likable. This is no different from the first book, Incarceron, so if you liked that book than you will like this book too. Finn is kind of wishy washy and has trouble finding any confidence to do what needs to be done, that is until later in the book. Claudia is at times kind of bitchy, although I do sympathize with her character. Claudia has a lot to put up with and a lot to accomplish and, outside of Jerad’s assistance, she doesn’t get a lot of help. Kiero continues to be borderline evil and is in his own way intriguing.
We get to see more of the horrors inside Incareron and Incarceron continues to gain sentience. You learn a lot more about how the prison was made and how it began to think for itself. Some of the revelations that are revealed around the relationship between Incarceron and the Outside are interesting too.
Something that I liked, but I can see it pissing people off, is the ending. The ending resolves most of the story but doesn’t do it in a very happy way. I did think it was a realistic way and that it matched the rest of the story well. It would have been nice to have a couple chapters to resolves what happened after. So, as I said I thought the ending was appropriate if not thrilling. But I bet that it is going to really irritate a lot of people.
Overall this was a great read. If you enjoyed the first book you will enjoy this one. If you didn’t enjoy the first book I would pass on this one. This book was creative and engaging, but is weak on characterization and ends in a way that may be unsatisfying for some. I would recommend these books for middle grade or higher level readers. If you like Suzanne Collins Underland Chronicles or Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom, I think you would like this series as well.