Book Review : Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Claudia Arlex is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron and has lived a life of luxury and intrigue. Betrothed to Prince Caspar, Claudia will become the next Queen and is expected to uphold the Protocol that was established by King Endor to bring an end to the Years of Rage. There are factions hidden under the gentile facade of society that are scheming to be released from the restrictive rules. Incarceron was designed by the Sapienti to reform the rabble of the earth and become a paradise. Finn Starseer has no memories prior to being part of Incarceron, but he believes he came from the outside and he is determined to escape. When Finn receives a crystal key he discovers Claudia and finds hope that there really is a place outside of Incarceron. The problem is that Incarceron is alive!
Adult Point of View
Incarceron was intriguing from the first page. Fisher has developed a world with multiple layers. The prison, Incarceron, is an enclosed society which has developed new codes of conduct. Within one layer of Incarceron live the Civicry and the Comitatus, commonly known as Scum. The Civicry live full lives with families, positions in society and are civilized. The Comitatus lived in a brutal world of warlords, bloodbrothers, slaves, theives and murder. There are many other wings and levels of Incarceron, each with their own social structure and oddities produced by Incarceron.
I loved the complexity and the feeling of not knowing what was going on. I imagine this is how Finn felt being thrown into the prison and discovering the world. I also liked the sharp contrast from the prison to the outside in the superficial details and then the growing sense that each is more like the other than we originally perceived. One of the main reasons I enjoyed Incarceron, was because of the Protocol that had been developed in the outside contrasted with the dark, foreboding prison.
Finn was one of my favorite characters because he had an underlying morality to his actions despite his circumstances. Claudia’s character was appropriate for a girl growing up under privileged circumstances, meaning she was a bit of a spoiled brat. I did feel that for one who had been groomed to play “the game” (political intrigue) by the Warden, she was actually too naive. For example, to think she could change the monarchy without deaths, shows she was not as sophisticated and cutthroat. Perhaps, that was the author’s intent, but I felt it was a weak link. I also enjoyed Jared, the Sapient, with his wisdom paired with his physical frailty. I loved the line from a peasant, “While the nobility play at history we endure history.”
Having the prison, Incarceron becoming a sentient being and being compressed into such a small object, the pocket watch cube, are not completely original. However, I still felt these plot elements were used in a new way and helped define this book as unique. It is never explained fully how the “Years of Rage” came about or if the Protocol dictating society is limited to this small geographic area or the entire world. Because of the richness of the world development I did not find that this hampered my enjoyment.
Some questions that are raised within Incarceron include, How does idealizing the past endanger our future? What constitutes a prison? Are prison’s of our own making? What would symbolize hope in your own life? What controls the world around you? What is worth fighting for and to whom should we be loyal? When do we choose the superficial over that which is genuine?
4 out of 5 stars
– the Mother
Wow, maybe even 4.25 stars!
I highly recommend this author.
Teen Point of View
I absoulotely loved this book! It is beautifully written and a whole new story, it doesn’t take after any books I know of. I thought this book was very deep and had lots of mystery that left me excited for more. I also enjoyed the second book, Sapphique, and the author’s other series. It has lots of twists and lots of action and adventure. I recomend it to all teenagers and for a fun read, adults too.
4 out of 5 stars
If you enjoyed this series try Cast of Stones, A (The Staff and the Sword) by Patrick W. Carr. I think you will love it!