By Catherine Fisher
Incarceron — a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology — a living building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character, and a typical medieval torture chamber — chains, great halls, dungeons.
A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison — a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists.
But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device — a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn’s escape is born ..
I admire the author for trying to create what I thought was an interesting innovative concept. A prison that controls itself and torments those within it, a supposed paradise gone wrong.
My main problem with the novel are the characters, and more specifically the protagonist Claudia. She is shallow, overly emotional and there is no depth to her. The author tries to portray her as ruthless and calculating, someone who wears a mask, unperturbed and indifferent to the world around her. Sadly there is absolutely no delivery. She’s almost petulant. Her motives throughout the novel are selfish. Finn didn’t grow on me either. He is not a well developed or particularly strong character.
Though well written, the novel is a slow progression. The novel entails Claudia’s long awaited marriage to a Prince and the detailed journey of Finn and his comrades through Incarceron in the hopes of escaping. Both story lines fall flat. Claudia’s political struggles and murder plots did little for me. Mostly because she isn’t directly involved in either. While I enjoyed getting glimpses into the grittier parts of Incarceron, Finn’s lack of leadership and ability to voice his thoughts made it so the other characters walked all over him (frequently).
Doubtful that I will be looking into reading the sequel.