Rating: 4.5 Stars
“I remember a story of a girl in Paradise who ate an apple once. Some wise Sapient gave it to her. Because of it she saw things differently. What had seemed gold coins were dead leaves. Rich clothes were rags of cobweb. And she saw there was a wall around the world, with a locked gate.”
Summary: A thrilling, high-concept fantasy for fans of Garth Nix and Nancy Farmer.
Incarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells, but also metal forests, dilapidated cities, and vast wilderness. Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, has no memory of his childhood and is sure that he came from Outside Incarceron. Very few prisoners believe that there is an Outside, however, which makes escape seems impossible.
And then Finn finds a crystal key that allows him to communicate with a girl named Claudia. She claims to live Outside- she is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, and doomed to an arranged marriage. Finn is determined to escape the prison, and Claudia believes she can help him. But they don’t realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost more than they know.
I went into Incarceron with no expectations at all. Good things and bad things had been said about it, and I was pleasantly surprised of how much I was invested in the book when the action started perking up. The first few chapters start out a little confusing; the setting is vague and you don’t exactly know the motivation of the main character for doing what he does. But after the pace picks up, the rest is a roller-coaster. A roller-coaster that only goes up, my friend.
The story is pretty fast-paced. We are started with a blast of action, and after a few quiet chapters we find Claudia plotting and Finn and Keiro planning their escape. In their journey, we are introduced to many characters, plots, and crazy technology. Claudia’s chapters mostly consist of her plan of escape from her wedding, and Finn’s consist of his hard journey along with Keiro, Gildas, and Attia to Outside. Throughout the book, a lot of the adventure and secrets raise a lot of questions, and I loved the aura of mystery surrounding it.
The world, in my opinion, was one of the best parts of the novel. It may be confusing at first, so let me break it down for you: this world consists of amazing futuristic technologies and devices, but king decided that “change” and progress” was bad, so now they forced to live in a fake medieval-esque era. Interesting, isn’t it? I usually don’t like it when science-fiction and fantasy is mixed, but I got so invested in this world halfway through, it was scary.
The characters were also great, but they needed a bit more development. Since this is a fast-paced adventure book, there isn’t much time for backstory and development, but I feel like Finn should have also received the same amount of development as Claudia. I enjoyed Claudia’s chapters a bit more than Finn’s because of this reason. I got to explore her character and personality a bit more, because she was mostly involved in all the action that was going on. In Finn’s chapter, he barely did anything even though there was a lot of action going on. After the “Maestra” chapters the rest of the chapters revolved more around Gildas, Attia, and especially Keiro. Those chapters were all drama, exploring, and finding out more secrets about Incarceron and Outside.
I have to say though, the characters were captivating, nonetheless. I loved Keiro, he was hilarious, and I felt like he received more development than Finn. Claudia and Jared hold a special place in my heart; their quiet determination in everything was so likable, and their relationship was great. Attia often got on my nerves, but I eventually came to like her, and Gildas was wonderful. The remaining characters are amazing as well, you can’t help but love them.
Overall, Incarceron is a fast-paced, adventurous, funny, and captivating novel. This will suit fans of high fantasy and science-fiction. You don’t want to miss it. 🙂
This review can also be found on my Goodreads here.