Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Review: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Grade: A-
GoodReads Page for Incarceron
Page 1:
"He felt them before he heard them; vibrations in the ground, starting tiny and growing until they shivered in his teeth and nerves. Then noises in the darkness, the rumble of migration trucks, the slow hollow clang of wheel rims."

Page 30:
That was the first time he had heard the Prison laugh.
He shivered, remembering it now, a cold, amused chuckle that had echoed down the corridors. It had silenced Jormanric in mid-fury, had made the hairs on his own skin prickle with terror. 

The Prison was alive. It was cruel and careless, and he was inside it.

My Summary: 
Incarceron is a thought-experiment in prison science. It is a sentient building set in a dystopian future, meant to house criminals and any undesirables in a location unknown to anyone but the Warden. The entire infrastructure is separate from any external factor by sealing it with its original inhabitants and now their descendants. The rest of the world believe the prison experiment to be a success, and imagine the prison to be filled with content souls living a sybaritic life.
Inside, it is a barbaric story. The local thug-King of a roving band within the Prison keeps a rough court inside. Within it is Finn, who remembers flashes of his rich past, despite being told he is cell-born. 
The Warden's daughter Claudia, is also in a prison. One of her father's making - meant to marry the heir to the Kingdom  in The World Outside. Finn and Claudia strike up an unlikely connection and their struggle to escape their respective prisons begins.

The Good:
Each chapter begins with a quote, which gives us glimpses into why and who/what Incarceron is. Very interesting to me was the description of the prison and its dystopian life. The outside vs. inside juxtaposition kept me thinking, as the folks outside who have hi-tech medicine, gadgetry, have chosen to live in a frozen 17th century world (almost a kind of prison, really). 
The Bad:
While clearly targeted at a YA audience, I would have liked to see some more characters and a more detailed understanding of the political clime such a world would have risen in. There were issues with the changing viewpoint of the storyline, it seemed done with a heavy hand. My benchmark for this has to be The Time-Traveller's Wife (A+ Review) which did a great job of moving across space and time and the two main characters.
A SOLID tale, one I would recommend to all my YA readers. Enough intrigue and excitement to keep the reading going, and fast-paced enough to satisfy a thriller/mystery fan.
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  1. I liked this one but I fully agree with your cons here - the book would have been better if only the author dared to write it in a more mature way. Nice review!

  2. Exactly! Good, but had the scope to be potentially great.


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