Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

June 7th, 2010 by Brian Leave a reply »

During the last week of school I finished Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. It’s a blending of sci-fi and fantasy elements. Part of the plot takes place inside a living prison, complete with HAL-9000 red eyes stalking the characters’ every move. Part of the plot exists in Protocol, a forced culture shift backwards to a simpler time where people solved their problems through stabbings and poison like civilized people.

Finn lives in the prison but there are rumors that he is a starseer, someone who has actually seen the outside world. Claudia is the daughter of the prison’s warden and needs to make contact to someone inside the prison so she can avoid an arranged marriage.

The general plot points of the book don’t take too many risks. There’s no real deviation from the standard “I’m just a simple boy” “No, you’re the Chosen One” (Galileo Figero!) fantasy arc. Where Incarceron does keep your attention, though, is in its characters.

I think there’s something wrong with me. I always cheer for the villains in epic stories. Darth Vader doesn’t deserve all the bad press he gets.

The character I rooted for in the prison was the gang leader. Catherine Fisher does a great job describing him. I could picture him sitting on his throne with his food taster chained nearby, much like Jabba the Hutt. Add the villain’s superstition that he holds people’s souls in his rings and you have me intrigued.

Finn has a counter-part, Keiro. He’s Finn’s oathbrother but you never know if he’s going to betray his best friend when the opportunity arises. Keiro is uber-overconfident and struts around Incarceron as if he owns the place. Any scene with him usually has conflict and grabs your attention.

The plot does try to surprise with some character reveals of the “Oh. The hermit was actually a hero the whole time” variety, but you can see it coming. Towards the very end, though, the characters call each other by multiple names, signifying everyone’s hidden identity. It could have been the fact that I was reading during the last week of school, so there’s a potential I had temporary memory loss, but the end seemed a little confusing. It doesn’t take away from the story, but I caution my students ahead of time to pay attention as you near the last third of the book so you know who’s who.

It’s an enjoyable book that falls into the Hunger Games/Maze Runner Kids Being Stalked in an Enclosed Arena genre of fiction. If you liked those books, you should pick up Incarceron. You won’t be disappointed.

And yes, like any good YA fiction, it seems, we need a series. Book two, Sapphique, comes out this December.


1 comment

  1. Allen Sale says:

    As an avid fan of science ficion and fantasy, I’m enjoying the book. It’s a nice break from the sort of fiction I usually read for adults. The author has done a lot of world-building and it shows. I personally love the epic scope.

Leave a Reply