Thursday, October 14, 2010


Incarceron is a prison. It's purpose: a perfect world created to ensure the safety of its inmates. Incarceron is inescapable. Incarceron, in fact, is alive.
Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher, is a brilliant piece of dystopian science fantasy about the prison of the same name. The book centers on a small group of people entrapped within, primarily Finn, who was born of Incarceron but believes he is from the now fabled outside. Because there is no way out of Incarceron, the prison wastes nothing- that includes people. Finn, though, believes that if he was born outside- and this of course means there must be a way out if he got in.
Inside Incarceron isn't the paradise its makers believed it would be. The prison has, at best, subdued those within, retaining some control. At worst, it's completely useless. There are faction feuding between one another. Fighting is constant, shallow rivalries run deep, and the prison laughs at it all.
Meanwhile in what could be another world, one frozen in time (seemingly the 18th century) complex battles of a political nature rage on, between those seeking to halt progress and those willing to allow it burst forth into the light once more, to bring transparency and truth, all through the shade of coups, plots, and secret societies.
Caught somewhere between all this is Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, who is betrothed to a haughty, irritating (yet politically important) prince, the son of a queen who is about as evil, shadowy and conniving as he is annoying, who discovers that marrying this fool in order to take part in a scheme grander than she could ever conceive was the reason for her being in this world.
This brings us to her father, the Warden of Incarceron himself. The Warden is a very powerful man, confident, and borders at times on arrogant. He also happens to know that Incarceron is not at all the perfect world it was meant to be- a failing that would cost him dearly should its troubles become known.
Claudia isn't entirely alone, as she has Jared, her Sapienti tutor, mentor, and essentially everything her father is not towards her (the Sapienti are a council of scholars responsible for Incarceron's existence). Other than him, however, are a few servants who generally don't become particularly involved in her life.
Meanwhile within the depths of Incarceron, battles rage between factions, and caught somewhere between them is poor Finn. Having been taken up by one of the factions, he has been assigned an oath brother (essentially another member he is to remain loyal to for the rest of eternity), and he's considered special, a "starseer" because from time to time he'll have visions that, while crippling, are glances of a world beyond Incarceron. In addition to his oath brother is a Sapienti, who is greatly interested in his visions and serves as a guide, much like Jared.
Finn manages to discover an incredible item- the Key to Incarceron! Now, it's up to him to figure out just what to do with it.

I must say that I absolutely loved Incarceron; it kept me riveted from start to finish. From the moment I opened the book I was unceremoniously dumped into the twisted, frightening world that is Incarceron, and at times I felt as if I had to fight for my life from behind the pages. I can definitely recommend Incarceron to those who enjoy fantasy dystopias, action adventure, and political drama.
I did feel, though, that the book needed a little more follow through in some areas, especially towards the end, and I would have definitely appreciated more background information (though I did particularly enjoy Fisher's method of introducing information through dialog).

Book Trailer:

Video Review: