Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher
Incarceron was created to be a paradise. Instead, it has become a warped and ruined prison world. Finn is one such prisoner, but with no memory of his past beyond waking in a cell. But Finn has dreams of an outside world, dreams that may be memories. And when he discovers a mysterious key, Finn embarks on a journey to escape Incarceron, if there is a way out at all. Meanwhile, young Claudia is betrothed to Prince Caspar, a cruel and naïve boy. Her only hope in escaping an unwanted future is a key that she has found to Incarceron, of which her father is Warden. Claudia and Finn hang all of their hopes on each other, when they discover they can communicate through the keys. But escaping Incarceron will be much more difficult than either of them can imagine.
Finn is a sympathetic character, especially when he mourns his bad decisions. He wants nothing more than to escape Incarceron, but not at the expense of his friends. Though, we’re never quite sure what some of his friends would do if the situations were reversed. Never knowing what was going on inside of their heads definitely added to the suspense of each circumstance they were thrown into. The story is told mainly from Finn and Claudia’s point of view. Claudia is often called haughty and cold, though the reader only sees her as a compassionate girl towards her teacher and Finn. The greatest suspense of the story is driven by the Warden’s and Queen’s treachery and deceit.
I confess to being a little confused when first starting the story. The setting was unclear, and characters even more so. But after a couple chapters, the story set into motion, characters started developing, and I was soon caught up and couldn’t put it down. Incarceron is a fantastic story that both science fiction and fantasy fans will enjoy. Written for young adults, the main characters are teenagers; but the story translates for adults as well. No sappy, teenage angst. But there is plenty of drama, intrigue, and mystery in this captivating tale. This was definitely one of my favorite reads of the year.
Incarceron will be released from Dial Books on January 26, 2010.