Monday, May 24, 2010

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

It’s hard for me to believe this book took three years before it emerged in the U.S. market. But I’m glad it’s here now. I hope it gets popular because I enjoyed this story and want to hear more about what other readers thought.

Claudia has prepared all her life to marry the prince. But as the wedding day approaches, the aloofness of her father, the Warden, and certain rumors spur Claudia to action. Questions must be answered. Finn, a cell-born without father or mother, scared and alone, is released into the world of Incarceron – a vast prison system, dark and dangerous, a great experiment gone wrong.

I totally read for plot. It usually can’t be helped but this time I became engrossed by the all the elements of plot. The exposition, setting and intro material about characters, etc, pulled me in. This is hard to accomplish. I usually can’t wait to get to the middle of a story and become worried that I’m wasting my time. There’s a lot of action and intrigue in the first few pages so I had no problem getting into it. The raising climax was nail biting. Where is the prison? How is it controlled? How is it that no one gets in or out? The climax is fairly predictable. We’re set up to know what to expect. And then, for the most part, it happens. But the resolution was great. I wasn’t sure about the prison’s location but at least one of my theories was in the ball-park. And I didn’t see the last bit coming (I don’t want to give anything away but it was a gasp moment). I am so excited I won a copy of the sequel, Sapphique (available this Dec. in the U.S.), because I am really intrigued by the futuristic society and the prison. I want to see how Claudia and Finn attempt to achieve their goals.

Let’s talk prose. Fisher uses third person narration in Incarceron and it works very well as she alternates between the two worlds. I enjoyed the “quotes” at the beginning of each chapter that were bits of Incarceron legend or the gossipy private letters between characters that are full of intrigue. This story is set in a technologically repressed future (creating a "high fantasy" feel) and a couple times I found the dialog sounds a bit too “today.” But it’s not a big deal and is probably just me being picky. However, there were some times I got lost. The descriptions can be hard to interpret. With a re-read I usually got what was going on. This is the only real drawback to this book. Nonetheless, I didn’t find they stopped me from wanting to continue. Incarceron is a fast read that reminded me of The Hunger Games. Both are fantasy set in the future, they feature a good dose of violence and action but, oddly, remain very innocent. The swearing is infrequent (mostly “bitch” and “hell”) and there are no sex scenes. I think this is a book you can give your young adult and not worry so much about content. I think the story is ok for younger readers but they may have difficulty with some of the tricky descriptions. But that doesn’t mean younger  kids (or adults) wouldn’t enjoy Incarceron. I sure did!
Publisher: Dial, 2010 (originally in G.B. in 2007)     Pages: 442
Rating: 4.5 Stars     Recommended Age: 13 and up    Source: IC Public Library


  1. Hey, Chelle! Glad you liked INCARCERON!
    I like the point you made about dialogue - now that I think about it, you're absolutely right :D
    I hope you enjoy SAPPHIQUE :D

  2. I've heard so many fabulous things about Incarceron! Thanks for sharing your review :) Just wanted to let you know that there's a Time Out shout out on my blog:

    Have a great afternoon!

  3. Come to think of it, Incarceron reminds me of The Maze Runner by J. Dashner. If you like that you may like Incarceron, too.

    Thanks Katie!

  4. Great review! I was surprised to hear how long it took Incarceron to reach the US market too. It made me wonder what other gems might be lurking on the UK shelves right now awaiting exposure to a wider market. I also totally agree regarding the gasp-worthy moment at the end of the book! Most aspects of the ending were not too shocking, but that one element caught me off guard. I am so curious to see how that twist will play out in Sapphique. I also agree with you about the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. They definitely enhanced the story. Thanks for sharing your review! Hope you enjoy Sapphique!