Book Review — Incarceron

Title: Incarceron
Author: Catherine Fisher
Publisher: Dial Books
Year: 2010

Yes, it has been since August since I finished reading a book. I’m not sure what burned me out so badly, but I’m hoping with a new year and no classes I can get back into the groove. And I start by finishing my first book of the steampunk challenge, a novel released here in the states only last year but has been in the UK for three.

The setting: a dystopian future in which to preserve the earth’s resources, they returned to a more Victorian lifestyle, advanced technology contraband. Many of the great thinkers were sent to Incarceron; to the people of the Outside, it is a place to covet, a paradise, but those on the inside know it’s a living prison of chaos and deceit.

The story follows two characters. Claudia lives on the outside, the daughter of the warden of Incarceron, and the betrothed of the prince, although she doesn’t like him very much. The other is Finn, a teenager in Incarceron who swears that he is from the Outside, and not part of the prison, ready to do anything he can to get out. These two individuals come together through a key, the key of Incarceron, which allows them to communicate with each other. When Claudia suspects that Finn is actually the older brother of her betrothed, the prince she fell in love with, she puts herself to the task of getting Finn and his companions out of Incarceron.

Let’s talk about what I liked. I loved the setting, of the Outside in particular. Incarceron was a pretty typical chaotic setting. Claudia and Finn are both engaging as the main characters, especially past the first 70 pages or so. Had the book’s earlier pacing been better, I could have read it quicker, especially with these characters and such differing dilemmas. When Finn and Claudia start to communicate, the threads pull together, and that becomes the point of captivation.

My biggest complaint is the descriptions and the action pieces. I always felt like I missed something. I found myself having to reread physical encounters, and frequently. I tried listening to this book and quite literally couldn’t because the actions were so confusing you couldn’t follow them out loud. It was very strange, because descriptions were otherwise detailed and dialogue easy to follow.

The pacing is also a definite problem. I know a number of people had to put the book down because the pacing was just not working for them. I was able to stick it out, but if Claudia and Finn started communicating sooner, the book would have been significantly more captivating.

That said, though, I would recommend this book, though with caution. If you’re interested in the story, stick through it, otherwise know it will frustrate you. I look forward to reading the sequel, which just came out in the States a couple of weeks ago. I’m assuming some of the bugs in this one have been worked out in Sapphique.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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