Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 448 pages
Source: Scholastic Book OrderIncarceron -- 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 ...
My Take: Catherine Fisher does what few authors have ever done in a Dystopic novel; created two worlds simultaneously. The background is still a little fuzzy but apparently, the world got too complicated with so much change going on. Huge war fought and time was frozen. Actually, a group of old guys got together and chose a time period and commanded everybody to stay in that time period in word, dress, technology, and everything else. Except for the privileged, of course. There is wiggle room for staying young, beautiful, and going potty. I mean hygiene.
Meanwhile, another world exists in a different place. These are descendants of the first world (I think) but it is not so pretty. There is no cheating with technology since it doesn't exist. Or toilets that I could see. It is a prison where everybody is trapped. Nobody escapes. Except there is a legend of a man named Saphique who did escape. But the prison has become sentient and will not allow happiness nor escape. Of course, every sentient being has an Achilles Heel.
Just so you know, mine is Diet Coke and chocolate.
Claudia - outside in the Realm. Finn - Inside the prison. Finn believes he is from the outside. Claudia needs an escape and believes that Finn is the long lost prince. Claudia has a scary father who is the acting warden of the prison. Finn wants Out. Claudia wants him Out. Prison wants him In. Where is the portal? Queen Meanie (Sia) wants her son to be king and not Finn or whoever he is.
This is more fantasy than the usual distopia but imagination abounds! Story is original with many shades of Wrinkle in Time and a little bit of Harry Potter type action.