Tuesday, June 29, 2010

HBIC Review: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Review Posted by Tina at Tinasbookreviews
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Young Adult, Published by Dial January 2010
Hardcover: 448 pages

Book Synopsis

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. (GoodReads)


Incarceron holds many secrets- the first - its location- from its inhabitants and the outside world. Incarceron can feel, breath and sense all the emotions in the prison. It can be light or dark, hot or cold and can control all the elements in its world. Many of the prisoners are so embedded in Incarceron, they have no thoughts of a different place or time, but some feel the isolation and wrongness of the prison, one of those is Finn. With no way out and no knowledge of his past, Finn is determined to find the man that can help him, the only man who knows Incarceron’s whereabouts and the only man who holds the key to its door- the warden.

Life outside the prison has the sunlight, the stars and the moon. Not everything is paradise though, real life has been put on hold, no advancement, no going forward and its people are stuck in a forced Era of a time passed long ago. Claudia daughter to Incarceron’s warden lives in this world and on the cusp of an arranged marriage she stumbles upon a truth that will rip the reality of the Outside apart. Fisher captures two very different yet strong characters both trapped in their own prisons. Each one wanting to get out, each wanting to know the truth. When by chance both of them find a duplicate key, they find each other and are able to communicate through it. With hope of a way out of the prison, Claudia begins to dig deep into Incarceron’s secrets and devises a plan to guide Finn to the Outside.

Incarceron is layered with many weird and futuristic elements; the prison shows us a world of metal rainstorms, hybrid individuals and red camera eyes. When Finn speaks to the red laser and finally gets a response it reminded me of that crazy space movie with the astronaut talking to that computer. While Incarceron pulls us into science fiction, the Outside shows us more the dystopian themes. With old era kingdoms, control over the society by force of time progression, evil queens that practice sorcery and the plots for ultimate power. Ms. Fisher did an amazing job bringing these two worlds and two characters together, some of the visual imagery and almost slow-motion action scenes put you right into the thick of this novel. Although slow building in the plotline; I thought the pace fit the story to bring you the feel of both worlds. Once the climatic part hit it did speed up the story and resolved it's main issue. With many questions left and a cliffhanger leaving us wanting more, Incarceron was a fantastic thrill ride with in-depth characters, who’s really the bad guy here moments and guessing at every turn. Fall into a fascinating, brilliantly written science fiction adventure that will intrigue you with its intelligent prison and futuristic themes.


Incarceron can be enjoyed by many readers including teens and adults as well as middle grade readers who read above average. Contains- mild language, violence, action, fantasy elements with dystopian themes, depression, grief, betrayals and magic.

4/4- YA- Sci-fi- Dystopian- Fantasy

BWB Discussion Questions

1. Claudia was portrayed as a very strong character, did you think bravery lead her steps into Incarceron or do you think she just played a card in the prisons hand?

I think Claudia and Jared out tricked the prison. I believe her bravery lead her steps and listening to her heart about Finn helped her determine to free him. Also near the end I think Claudia was fueled by anger. Anger and love can move mountains!!

2. Although Jared and Claudia's relationship is purely student/ teacher....did you pick up any undercurrent of sexual tension between them?

I know it my seem ewwy, because Jared came off as much (much) older than Claudia but......I think there was some undercurrent attraction going on. Claudia trusts him completely and I think Jared loves her as well.
They act much closer than teacher/student and rely on each other a bit more than say father/daughter. I don't see a connection between Claudia and Finn but at this point there has been no romance in the book....so I guess we will see!!

3. Spill! What are your predictions for the next book {Sapphique}? What are you looking forward to/what do you hope gets explained before the grand finale?

Well I see Finn taking his rightful place.....perhaps going back in to rescue Attia and his brother...(I think there may be something up with Finn and Attia) Who knows- hopefully they can find a way to super size the prison and free all its inhabitants.

4. What do you think of the relationship between the Warden and the Queen in regards to the big picture?

I think it was a complete manipulate/blackmailing relationship. I think both were trying to outdo each other, Certainly the queen is not done with her scheming and the warden obviously has some tricks up his sleeve...(little sleeve now) but I got the feeling that these two are bitter enemies.

5. Do you think that Finn is the only one besides Sapphique who has escaped or left Incarceron?

Hard to say...but as of now yes....I think these are the only two, unless there is some crazy tunnel that others have found...but according to the rules of Incarceron and how Fisher set the plotline it would only be possible for Finn to have escaped.....the ending in the cave threw me but also made me stop and think if Sapphique really got out or is perhaps not even real.........

6. What is your take on the futuristic aspects mixed with the period clothing and mannerisms? Is this what would be considered Steampunk or is it more Science Fiction?

The storyline was defiantly science-fiction, although it had dystopian elements Incarceron wrapped itself around fantasy and mystery. I think the clothing and feel was for sure Steampunk. Only the whole forced Era and mannerisms were fake, If I compared this I could see it as a Sherlock Holmes meets Blade Runner.



Chelle said...

I loved Incarceron! The world of the prison was especially interesting to me. I won a copy of Sapphique and can't wait to read it.

I didn't think Claudia and Jared were sexually attracted at all. That's just what many people assume whenever they see a guy and girl together and frankly, I don't think that's fair. Actually, I thought Jared was a stand-in father figure for Claudia which explained to me why she cares for him so much. I could be wrong though! So, I'll have to see how things pan out in the sequel!