Ang init! Which means “It’s so hot!” in Filipino. Just had to mention that because it’s really hot nowadays. I can’t believe I’m wishing for the rainy season to start because it’s such a hassle to go around the city when it rains but I think it’s better to have rain than this unbearable heat – high 30s in Celsius (high 90s in Fahrenheit) and very, very humid. You’ll start sweating even right after taking a shower. Now that I have that out of my system, on to the review.
Sapphique is the sequel to Incarceron, which I recently read and reviewed. Warning: This post contains spoilers for Incarceron so if you haven’t read that book, don’t proceed in reading this review. Even the summary has spoilers for the first book.
Here’s the summary from Catherine Fisher’s website:
Finn has escaped from the terrible living Prison of Incarceron, but its memory torments him, because his brother Keiro is still inside. Outside, Claudia insists he must be king, but Finn doubts even his own identity. Is he the lost prince Giles? Or are his memories no more than another construct of his imprisonment? And can you be free if your friends are still captive? Can you be free if your world is frozen in time? Can you be free if you don’t even know who you are? Inside Incarceron, has the crazy sorcerer Rix really found the Glove of Sapphique, the only man the Prison ever loved. Sapphique, whose image fires Incarceron with the desire to escape its own nature. If Keiro steals the glove, will he bring destruction to the world? Inside. Outside. All seeking freedom. Like Sapphique.
If you click on the link here and look up my review of Incarceron, you’ll see that I really enjoyed reading that book. So it should come as no surprise that I had high hopes for its sequel. Sadly, I was disappointed. My friend Moses, who sent me copies of the duology, already mentioned that the sequel isn’t that good but of course, I was still curious. The characters are still the same but Claudia and Finn aren’t the focus of the story anymore. The point of view shifts from Claudia, Finn, Jared to Attia and Keiro. Also, there were some new characters introduced to the story such as Rix.
Finn was able to escape Incarceron but he just went to a different kind of prison. People Outside are still trapped, albeit not in a physical prison, but in lives constricted to following the Protocol. They had to follow the rules governing the seventeenth century and how people lived their lives back then. Outside isn’t the paradise that everyone in Incarceron dreams about. Finn also has to deal with his memory loss. He may be Prince Giles but he doesn’t have much to prove it. Finn’s troubles don’t end there, he also has to worry about his political enemies in court – those who had him sent to Incarceron in the first place and the ones who don’t believe that he really is the lost prince. Claudia has her own set of problems – her father destroyed the Portal and trapped himself in Incarceron and her beloved master Jared’s sickness is getting worse. Meanwhile, Attia and Keiro struggle to find ways to escape and Incarceron grows restless: the prison wants to escape just as much as its inmates.
The changing points of view can be frustrating at times because it would change right after something big happens. A single chapter can contain scenes from various points of view. Like Incarceron, Sapphique is just as fast-paced and also riddled with political intrigue. However, I didn’t feel like the sequel lived up to the first book. I think Charlotte’s comment in my post about Incarceron is applicable to Sapphique:
“There was just so much happening, and I was so busy trying to keep track of things that I never relaxed into it… and I never even finished reading the sequel. It just wasn’t for me. Maybe when I’m older.”
Also, there were a couple of plot threads that were just left hanging. There were too many questions and not enough answers. I was expecting more character development and maybe the shifting narration just wasn’t able to delve deeper into each character. I would still recommend that people who’ve read the first one to read this sequel because you can’t help but be curious and Sapphique would give you closure, so to speak. I can see why others would like this but I echo Charlotte in saying that I guess this just wasn’t for me.