Author: Catherine Fisher
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Incarceron (Book 1)
Publication Date: January 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 442 Pages
ISBN-10: 0803733968 (Dial/Penguin)
ISBN-13: 978-10803733961 (Dial/Penguin)
Reviewed by: Bridget
Incarceron — a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology — a living building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character, and a typical medieval torture chamber — chains, great halls, dungeons. A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison — a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device — a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn’s escape is born …
Quick & Dirty: This was a great fantasy filled with a intriguing story, a fascinating world, and wonderful characters.
Opening Sentence: Finn had been flung on his face and chained to the stone slabs of the transitway.
Finn is a young prisoner in the prison Incarceron. He woke up 3 years ago in a tunnel in the prison and has no memory of his previous life. He doesn’t believe that he was born in the prison because he keeps having visions of his earlier life. He knows that the outside exists but no one escapes Incarceron. Eventually Finn finds a mysterious crystal key that is supposed to be able to help him escape. He is able to communicate with the beautiful Claudia and she is determined to help him escape his prison.
Claudia is the Warden of Incarceron’s daughter. She has been raised knowing that she will one day be the queen. Years ago Giles, the crown prince of the realm and her fiancée, was killed in a riding accident. She now is engaged to the annoying Casper, Earl of Steen, he is the son of the current Queen. He is going to be the next king and Claudia would do anything to not have to marry him. Events start to unfold and Claudia gets a feeling that what happened to Giles was fowl play and she plans to expose the Queen and her son as the culprits. By doing this she hopes to stop her impending wedding. She knows that Incarecron exists but no one knows where it is or how penetrate it. When she steals a crystal key from her father she meets the prisoner Finn and decides that she will do what she can to try and set him and everyone else free from the dreaded prison.
The story is told from both Finn and Claudia’s point of view. Finn is a noble, honest person that lives in a brutal world. Inside Incarceron life is very difficult and to survive Finn has had to make some very tough decisions and trust not very good people. But with the visions of the outside world, Finn holds the key ingredient to surviving Incarceron, hope. He makes mistakes, but in the end he really tries to do right by the people who have helped him. He doesn’t live in an ideal situation, but he tries to do the best he can, which I found to be an admirable quality. Finn is a good strong character and I enjoyed getting to know him.
Claudia has been raised to obey and do as she is told. It has been her father’s dream to see her become queen. Claudia has always put on a complaint front, but underneath she is very rebellious. I love that she has a feisty side and she goes to great lengths to get what she wants. On the other hand she also has a very compassionate side. She has her own agenda to be sure, but she doesn’t want anyone to get hurt. She wants justice and she really wants to do the right thing. Claudia was a fun character with lots of attitude and I am excited to read more of her story.
I really enjoyed Incarecron. The world that Fisher created was fascinating and intriguing. The characters were strong and I felt that I got to know them all pretty well. The story was interesting and held my interest the whole way through. There were a few moments where I felt that the pacing dragged a little bit, but it was minimal. The action was really well done; the plot had some surprising twists. There is very little romance in this book, but there were lots of hints that suggest there will be more in book two. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys YA Dystopian or fantasy books.
Tugging the pack over, he put his hand in, and touched the Key.
It was warm.
He lifted it out, very gently, and let his fingers close over it, so that the heat it was generating comforted his cramped fingers. Quietly it said, “Speak to me.”
Wide-eyed, Finn glanced at the others.
No one moved.
Carefully, his leather belt creaking in the stillness, he stood up and turned. He managed three steps before the rustling crunch of the metal leaves made Keiro mutter and turn over.
Behind the tree, Finn froze.
He brought the Key up to his ear. It was silent. He touched it, all over, shook it. Then he whispered to it. “Sapphique. Lord Sapphique. Is that you?”
FTC Advisory: Dial/Penguin provided me with a copy of Incarceron. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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