Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Title:  Incarceron
Author:  Catherine Fisher
Format:  Hardcover
Pages:  702
Genre:  Fantasy/Steampunk/Young adult
Series #:  1 of ??
Read:  February 17-19, 2011

Rating:  A-

Synopsis (from the publisher):  Incarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells, but also metal forests, dilapidated cities, and vast wilderness. Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, has no memory of his childhood and is sure that he came from Outside Incarceron. Very few prisoners believe that there is an Outside, however, which makes escape seems impossible.
And then Finn finds a crystal key that allows him to communicate with a girl named Claudia. She claims to live Outside- she is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, and doomed to an arranged marriage. Finn is determined to escape the prison, and Claudia believes she can help him. But they don't realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost more than they know.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Totally unexpected ending!  I love books that end with a surprising twist, and Incarceron did not disappoint.  Besides an amazing ending, it also had great characters and an original & exciting concept.

Claudia and Finn are the best characters in the book, with great depth and development.  The secondary characters also receive plenty of attention and detail, making them much more than two-dimensional sidekicks.  I wish there had been more time to develop the Queen's character.  She seems like a much more vicious and scheming villain than Claudia's father, but she doesn't come in until the end of the book, so we only catch a glimpse of her dark side.

The plot and concept of the book were unique and exciting.  Once I really got into it, I couldn't put the book down.  The idea of a living prison that watches over its inmates, that has turned evil itself over time, is incredibly creative.  And on the outside, the people have been forced to freeze progress and stay stuck in one particular time in order to establish peace in the land.  So despite amazing advancements in technology, everyone's living as if they were born during Shakespeare's era, with ruffled clothes, arranged marriages, and only a few modern amenities (honestly, they weren't going to give up toilets).

My only complaint with the book was that it seemed incredibly jumpy and fractured at times, like something had been skipped over in the story.  I had to reread a few parts to make sure I hadn't missed anything.  Otherwise, Incarceron was amazing.  A-

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