Book Review: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Rating: StarStarStarStar


Incarceron is a prison unlike any other: Its inmates live not only in cells, but also in metal forests, dilapidated cities, and unbounded wilderness. The prison has been sealed for centuries, and only one man, legend says, has ever escaped.
Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, can’t remember his childhood and believes he came from Outside Incarceron. He’s going to escape, even though most inmates don’t believe that Outside even exists. And then Finn finds a crystal key and through it, a girl named Claudia. 
Claudia claims to live Outside—her father is the Warden of Incarceron and she’s doomed to an arranged marriage. If she helps Finn escape, she will need his help in return. But they don’t realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost far more than they know. 
Because Incarceron is alive.

***** ***** *****

Incredible. That’s what it is.

What if you are a prisoner, and the prison you live inside is alive? As in looking at you, listening your every step, and commands the world you live in to whatever it wants? That is Finn.

What if you live in a place where people live backwards? It is way past the 21st century but the rich people are called lords, who live in castles, who ride horses? The people are to live like it is during medieval times and yet there are ingenious devices like scanners, gravity box and portals? That is where Claudia is.

The story is unique, a very intricate mystery in itself.

Finn is inside Incarceron, but he believes he came from the Outside. He is a prisoner in a prison where he can roam freely or do anything. In the forest. In the train tracks. In dilapidated structures. People there are sickly, and poor, and most times violent. After all, they are all prisoners there. But even if they are not inside the cells, there’s a catch: when Incarceron senses trouble, it will contain whatever and wherever it is that needs containment. LOCKDOWN. Literally. So Finn intends to escape this horrible place. Yet escape is impossible. Well, almost. Then he obtained a key. Suddenly, escape seems no longer bleak.

Claudia is Outside, trapped in an impending marriage she doesn’t want to take part of but will make her a queen. When she gets hold of a key, she realizes there might be another world where she can go to. Where there is freedom. And when using the key she can talk to a prisoner who is actually inside Incarceron, the plan to escape her fate seems possible.

Together, Finn and Claudia find themselves working an escape that will benefit them both. But it really is not that simple. Because Incarceron knows their plans. And it doesn’t want anyone escaping it. For the second time.

The first ten pages led Finn to someone who has the key – a lot of action instantly transpired in those pages. I was hooked right then and there.

It was suspenseful. After each chapter, i was gloomy because there are scenes where Finn almost always gets killed. That’s how dangerous the prison is. I’m constantly thinking: ‘he’s never going to make it’ or ‘he’ll die now, that’s for sure’ or ‘oh man, not again!’. I have to give it to the author, because she makes me want to read on and on. I just have to know what happens next!

Claudia is very clever, relentless and as his father the Warden says, ruthless. She was raised and educated to be a future queen. And it suits her. She is constantly defiant to her father. She usually goads her tutor Jared to support her decisions and plans. She is determined to stop her marriage to Caspar. There are moments when she can’t control her emotions and eventually her bursts of temper made me think of her as this stupid, spoiled and immature girl who only does the things she did just because there’s nothing else exciting to do.

In every chapter there’s a new twist. A new turn that is darker, nastier, and more sinister. The ride i had while reading this is thrilling. The adventure given by Incarceron is definitely wicked!

There are scenes that remind me of some movies and i was just happy to let my imagination wander! It made it easier to picture the world Finn was in.

1 Jormanric and the Comitatus – Mad Max

2 Finn as the Tribute to the Beast – Beowolf

3 Blaize and his ‘baloon/bubble’ of a ship – Waterworld

I also remembered the tv series Prison Break. It is similar to Incarceron. Minus the concrete walls and guards.

The book has me guessing til the end. I admit that i have no idea where the author will take me.

Can Finn trust his oath brother, Keiro? Is the sapient Gildas crazy enough to escape that he’ll offer even Finn to the Beast? Is attia a friend or a lover? And the million-dollar-question remained: will Incarceron let Finn escape its clutches?

Is Claudia brave enough to defy his father for the biggest trick she planned? Can she really go through the marriage and accept her fate as the future Queen? Does Claudia have the resources to help Finn out of the prison?

I have no definite answers to all of those questions when i’m reading a book. And i am usually a good guesser! Let’s just say that i am unsure that this book will have an ending that i love. And yet i keep on reading.

So the ending left me wanting for more.

I could’ve given a five-star rating but in the first part of the book, i kept looking how far i’ve gone with the book. I was anxious to finish it. Why? Because i thought Finn, Claudia and the others don’t have enough time to escape. That feeling gave me the notion that the book was too long. Or maybe it’s just me?

Also, the author never explained some of its coined terms. She assumed the reader will be intelligent enough to figure it out as the story progresses. Well, i was stumped most of the time while reading it. Does that mean i’m getting slow on the uptake?

Sapienti – are they magicians or scientists? Maybe alchemists?

Civicry – are they prisoners far more civil to be called as prisoners?

Post-Era, Years of Rage – ??? (the meaning was still vague even after finishing the book)

It isn’t easy to say this but Incarceron is my most favourite character (if you can call it that). She sounds like a mom. Disciplines like a mom. Never wants to let her children go, like a mom. It all has the power in the prison world and yet it has that one thing it wants but can never have. For a second there, while reading its musings, i felt sorry for Incarceron.

This is a great read. Dwell in a world that is, literally… alive. *evil grin*



.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”


2 thoughts on “Book Review: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

  1. Pingback: Required Reading: March | reading is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Sapphique by Catherine Fisher | reading is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

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