Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

I’ve been waiting to read Incarceron ever since I first saw it mentioned in Sounis, the LJ community for Megan Whalen Turner fans. I’ve gotten a lot of great recommendations from members of Sounis and the premise of this was really interesting. I’m glad my friend Moses, who lives in Australia, agreed to get the UK paperback editions for me because I like this edition better and at least the sequel, Sapphique, is already out in the UK edition. He read it before passing it on to me and when I asked what he thought of it, he said that it seems like my kind of book.

Here’s the summary from Catherine Fisher’s website, click on the link to see her inspiration for the book:

Imagine a living prison so vast that it contains corridors and forests, cities and seas. Imagine a prisoner with no memory, who is sure he came from Outside, even though the prison has been sealed for centuries and only one man, half real, half legend, has ever escaped.

Imagine a girl in a manor house in a society where time has been forbidden, where everyone is held in a seventeenth century world run by computers, doomed to an arranged marriage that appalls her, tangled in an assassination plot she both dreads and desires.

One inside, one outside

But both imprisoned.

Imagine a war that has hollowed the moon, seven skullrings that contain souls, a flying ship and a wall at the world’s end.

Imagine the unimaginable.

Imagine Incarceron.

After reading the book, I’m still considering how I feel about it. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked it but I’m not sure if it falls under my favorites list. I might give the sequel a try before I decide. Anyway, the premise of Incarceron is interesting. I admit, I’ve already seen a similar premise back when I read The City of Ember so it’s not new but I have to say that Incarceron is much better. I can’t even remember the details of The City of Ember. Plus Incarceron (the prison) is a sentient being and not just a structure built underground with walls to keep people in.

The start of the book is a little confusing because it dives right into the story but give it a couple of chapters and you’ll be properly engaged. The points of view switch from Finn, the boy inside Incarceron who’s convinced he’s from Outside even if he has no memory of it, and Claudia, the Warden of Incarceron’s daughter. I love the world that Catherine Fisher created. Incarceron was created with the goal of letting people live in a contained, perfect world but it backfired. And while there are problems inside the prison, people outside are trapped in a different way – the law requires that they give up modern conveniences and pretend that they’re stuck in the seventeenth century. Both Claudia and Finn think that the other has it better and they both want to know more about the other person’s environment. But the book isn’t just about Claudia and Finn and how they unravel the mysteries of each other’s worlds. As with all the books that I enjoy reading, a huge aspect of my enjoyment rests on the characters and Incarceron doesn’t disappoint. There’s a cold-blooded queen, a spoiled prince, a wise but sickly tutor, a mysterious oathbrother, a slave turned loyal follower and an inmate consumed with the dream to get out.

Incarceron is an action-packed book filled with political intrigue, plot twists and turns, fascinating characters and a unique setting. It can be read on its own but it will leave you wanting more as there are still some plot threads that need to be resolved. I’m glad I have the sequel on hand because I’m interested to see where the story goes.