There came a time in the world's history when people knew we were running out of energy. Our last reserves were put into creating Incarceron, a prison meant to hold the world's outcasts and the unwanted, in order to protect them from the outside world. The Outside became a place ruled by "Protocol": time is forbidden, and the world will forever remain trapped in one Era. To those outside, especially the wise men, or Sapienti, Incarceron is revered as a paradise; a success. However, the prison does not live up to its reputation. It is alive, and not so much a paradise as a hell. Finn, a prisoner, is known as a cell-born and a Starseer. He believes he came from the outside, and, as he discovers the mysteries between the eagle tattoo on his arm, becomes determined to escape. Finn finds a crystal key and, through it, meets Claudia: the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron. She resolves to help him escape in order to escape from a prison of sorts herself: an arranged marriage. As they learn more about the key and each other, they will uncover more mysteries and betrayals than they could ever expect. Will Finn escape? Or will Incarceron's "justice" prevail?
Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher, was completely original, and equal parts terror and fascination. The steampunk elements were very interesting: from metal forests to the "half-men" created by the prison, the scenery and background of Incarceron were definitely some of the book's strongest attributes. I was also captivated by the idea of the Protocol. I found it very interesting that the inhabitants of the Realm knew about aspects of the past, such as washing machines and slang ("What's up?"), and used them when no authority figures were around, they still kept up the appearance of the Era, even down to making sure there were enough spider webs in a room to make it look authentic. The dynamic between Oathbrothers Finn and Keiro kept the story moving; their different motivations but overall loyalty to each other made up a central element of the plot. The contrast between Claudia and the Outside and Finn and company inside Incarceron, in their knowledge and lifestyle, was also incredible. The juxtaposition of extreme riches and extreme destitution can be paralleled to the world today, and definitely causes some deep thinking. The only drawbacks of Incarceron were that it was rather predictable at times, and that some things could have been explained more fully, such as the prison being alive and how the characters so quickly made some of the discoveries they did. Overall, however, Incarceron was a fantastic book with fascinating elements of steampunk and dystopia that I would recommend to any lovers of YA fantasy.
- Date of Review: 5/2/2010
- Publisher: Dial
- Publication Date: January 26, 2010 (first published May 3, 2007)
- Genre: Teen Fiction Fantasy (Steampunk/Dystopian)