Reviews of children's and young adult books old and new

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It's Alive

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

New from Penguin this year Incarceron is a young adult book you will not soon forget. I was so excited when I read about this book last year before it was released. I read it over a couple days and it was hard to put down during the time I needed to be doing other things. The story sucks you in right away so leave some time to read this one because you will not want to put it down.

Incarceron is a prison that was meant to be a utopia. The designers planned to take all the undesirables and give them a perfect world and spiritual leaders to guide them. Claudia has been taught this her whole life. As daughter to the Warden of Incarceron she is being groomed to be the next queen but Claudia does not want the life that is being forced on her and she wants to know more about Incarceron. Finn is a thief and believes that he was not born in Incarceron even though it had been sealed for hundreds of years. Finn and his oathbrother Keiro try to find meaning in Finn's odd fits and visions. One man in Incarceron believes that Finn is his key to escape and can show him out of the prison. Incarceron is always watching, it can create and destroy life, it makes storms for its own pleasure and will seal off passages to watch its inmates suffer. There is only one who has ever been rumored to escape, and the takes about him are as varied as Incarceron itself.

Wow! That was all I could think as I read this book. I finished it and just wanted to talk about. It took me a full hour to really start to think about the plot holes and even then I didn't really care. The story is told in two parts, sometimes the reader is following Claudia and other times we are following Finn, as the two stories get closer to being entwined the amount of pages between them lessens. For example in the beginning there is a few chapters about Finn and then a few about Claudia by the end their stories are on alternating pages. That really does help increase the tension that is built so well throughout the story. I really did enjoy this book and recommend it as a great fantasy read. There are some big plot holes though that in my mind need to be addressed. To discuss them here though will ruin the end of the book, so I will not go into all of that now. Just be aware that not all of your questions will be answered to your total satisfaction.

In Claudia's world they apparently had great technology at one point but some ruler decided after "the years of rage" that progress was too dangerous and made everyone live in an approximation of the 16th century. The idea that people would have to hide things like their toilets and washing machines because there were not era appropriate is fascinating. And of course people do hide their technology because living without things like modern medicine and hygiene is crazy. I really appreciated the way the author wove the two stories together. The reader figures some things out very early in the book, much before our main characters do and that wait to have your thoughts confirmed is torturous but does keep you reading. Lastly the details about Incarceron itself are creepy and wonderful. Incarceron is fitted with hundreds of thousands of red eyes that watch every movement and let the prison know all the things that are happening. From that information the prison can make its own choices about who lives and dies. It is scary and awful but wonderful to read about. I highly recommend for young adults ages 13-45.

If after all of this you are still not convinced you should read this book, watch the trailer, hopefully that will persuade you.

No comments:

Post a Comment