Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
You never know what you're going to find in a used book section at a Goodwill, but sometimes you find gold. I haven't read a book like this in a long time, one that just focuses on an adventure and creative world building that deals with both fantasy and dystopia elements at the same time. Let's dive right in.
Finn is a prisoner of Incarceron, a vast world of a prison full of brutality and cruelty that sees your every move and from which there is no Escape. But Finn is a Starseer, who sees visions of the world beyond Incarceron and is convinced that he doesn't belong and will find the way out. When he comes across a mysterious crystal Key, he soon comes in contact with Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron. Claudia seeks out the Prison, thinking that within it is the only person who can save her from her impending arranged marriage. As Finn and his band of (not so) trustworthy companions race through the vast world of Incarceron, Claudia does everything she can from the Outside to help set them free.
Starting off, the characters in this thing are just awesome. Everyone is memorable and, as you might sometimes get with a wide array of characters, nobody gets left out or underused. Everyone has a purpose and place in this story and you remember each one of them. Finn's group in particular is an interesting bunch. Finn's oathbrother, Keiro, for instance, is the kind of character who could either be loved or hated by fans, but manages to be complex and interesting. He's the kind of person you want to trust, but aren't sure you can. While Incarceron is the place supposedly full of criminals, the Outside world is almost just as suspicious and deadly. You get the feel that everyone is putting on a play in the Outside and that nobody is really showing their true emotions and it's all described really well.
As I said earlier, the world-building in this is just great. The different areas within the prison are wonderfully imaginative, vast cities to forests made entirely out of metal and mountains made of diamond. You almost forget that this is supposed to be a prison when it could very well be its own world, but then you remember that there's no real sky, glowing red Eyes are everywhere, and dawn and dusk are replaced with Lightson and Lightsoff. That's actually really clever. The real sense of dystopia comes from the Outside however, which is designed to resemble a rather Victorian Era-esque time period, yet also possesses technologies far beyond what that time period should allow. The book takes its time before it tells you just how the Outside world came to be what it is and how it came to be. As a result, I did feel a little lost in the beginning of the book, but the answers to just what happened to the world became clear as the story moved on.
If I had to nitpick, I would say that both Finn and Claudia's stories don't always mesh together very well. This is mostly because they're very different, as Finn's side of the story is a daring escape through a dangerous world while Claudia's is more of a suspenseful political intrigue story. Both stories are good, don't get me wrong, but they could almost be two different books fixed into one. It's easy to get caught up in one side of the story and then remember, "Oh, yeah! Those other guys were doing this other thing over here." However, it does come together in the end. It wraps up in a pretty intense climax with twists that, I admit, I couldn't have predicted. It smoothed itself out nicely in the end.
I've been needing a book like this for awhile now. Fast-paced, intriguing, well thought out, and full of great character and imagination, I'm glad to say that this book is definitely worth your money at your local bookstore!
Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Have a book you want me to review or just want to recommend a book you'd like to see featured here? Then find me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer as well as on Twitter @Michelle_Beer88.
Next Time: I've been sitting on this one for while and now I've just gotta do it. It's Retrospective time again people and we're going over a series that actually does justice to Greek mythology...excluding those movies, of course.