I have had Incarceron on my To Read list since way back in the fall. The reviews I'd seen were all really great and the cover is amazing. This book more than lived up to my expectations. Incarceron is the first book in the Incarceron Series. The second book Sapphique came out in December but I have yet to get my hands on a copy. Sapphique is the final book in the Series. Incarceron is so many things. It's a dystopian novel because of the political oppression and subsequent unrest. It's a steampunk - or maybe a reverse steampunk- in that you see technology and history taken out of the original context and juxtaposed. It's YA because the characters are young adults and teens for the most part and because of how the politics of the story are treated. This would be a good book for older teens due to the historical and political threads that run through the story. I am unsure if younger teens would have the history background to understand what "Era" means.
The story of Incarceron is told in two view points, those of Claudia and Finn. Claudia is the warden of Incarceron's daughter and she tells the story of what is happening Outside. Finn is a prisoner of Incarceron whose story follows the happenings Inside. Finn has no memories of his parents or of being a child. He only remembers waking up in a room inside Incarceron one day. He has visions that he believes are really memories. Finn and his Oath Brother, Kiero, are part of a band of thieves inside Incarceron when Finn comes across a crystal key. This key will lead him on the adventure of his life. Finn wants to know who he is and to gain his freedom from the prison. The prison that is alive and not only speaks to him but tries to control him and everyone in it.
Claudia lives in the Outside and while she knows that Incarceron exists, that is all she knows about the prison. The world Claudia lives in is different from Finn's world but not very much more free than Finn's. One day, Claudia steals a crystal key from her father, the Warden, and begins an adventure that may gain her the freedom that she doesn't currently have. Freedom from the Protocol that forces a technologically advanced world to live in a bygone time and freedom from the marriage her father has arranged for her to the repulsive Earl of Steen, the Queen's son.
The book alternates viewpoints between Claudia and Finn, even after they find that they can talk to each other with the keys. The book reads like a race through the levels of Incarceron and it has all kinds of action and adventure. I really enjoyed this book and was sad when it was over. The dystopian theme of placing controls on technological advances, education and change is really well illustrated in this book. Also, the overwhelming feeling of being enclosed and kept prisoner was tangible. Reading the book made me feel claustrophobic. I highly recommend this book for older teens and up. What a unique world that Catherine Fisher has created!!
You can find out more about Incarceron and Catherine Fisher on Goodreads and her website. There was news in December that Fox had bought the rights to Incarceron and wanted Taylor Lautner to play Finn. That would be interesting, for sure!
Incarceron earns 4 Fairies for an interesting and unique story.