Book Review - Incarceron

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Claudia is the only child of the Warden of Incarceron, one of the highest positions of honor in this future world. After the unfortunate death of Giles, the eldest Prince, Claudia is then betrothed to his younger brother Lord Evian, a marriage that she would do anything to get out of. Even if it means confronting her father. Meanwhile, Finn is a prisoner inside Incarceron. When Finn obtains a crystal key, he finds it is a two way radio to the outside world, and who is on the receiving end? None other than Claudia. With the help of Claudia, Finn sets out with three friends to escape, while Claudia plots the downfall of an entire kingdom.

This book can be added to the list of 'dystopian future genre'. The pacing was quick. Claudia and Finn were both well rounded, with clear wants and desires, and the obvious drive to get the things that they most crave. Claudia is a majestic character, cool and calculating. One can see her as the Queen of this empire, even if she is forced to marry Lord Evian. Even with limited power, Claudia is a force to be reckoned with. Finn on the other hand is strong and yet pitiful. We desperately want him to remember who he is. Why is he a prisoner? Can he escape?

Characterization and pacing aside, this book was terribly confusing at times. Most of the things that happened were an "I think this is what was going on" rather than an "I know." Let me lay it down for you. This is a future society, where I think some King at some kind decided that technology was bad and wanted to go back to a simpler time. So he ordered "Protocal", which I think means that everyone dresses and acts like they are in the Renaissance. Problem: Everyone, as far as I can tell, still has technology. They have holo-projectors, washing machines, ovens. In fact, I was never quite sure what happened to people, besides a few fines, if they were caught using say...electricity. How do people who aren't rich live? Do they follow these protocals?

And then there is Incarceron. To the people outside it was supposed to be an experiment to create an Utopian society. But if that is the case then why in the world would you call it Incarceron, which obviously is a play on words for incarcerated, which means prisoner. Why not give it a nicer name? The people living on the inside definitely believe it is a prison. It isn't until well into the book that we are given any hints that it is anything but a prison. The thing is, when you are setting up a fantasy or science fiction world, we have to know the rules of the game. If not, then we become confused, and the number one thing you should not have is a confused reader.

My last bit of judgement would be that too much was given away far too early. The reader quickly figures things out long before the other characters do and this is frustrating because then all the anticipation of the story is just waiting for everyone else to get it. It may seem like this is good, because then the reader feels smarter for figuring it out, but in this case no. I almost felt a little talked down to. Like, "Hey, you reader, you probably won't get this so I am going to spell it out for you. Did you get it? Good. Moving on."

The positives are again, great characters, good pacing, and a very interesting premise even if it is a bit sketchy at times. It wasn't a bad read, I did enjoy reading it and definitely love that it is on my bookshelf because frankly I love anything Dystopian, but if this isn't your kind of book then you may want to skip this one and go read Hunger Games instead. Oh, and huge brownie points for cover of this book. I do love it.