Author: Catherine Fisher
Publisher: Dial, 2010
Where I got it: I borrowed it from the library.
Why I read it: I like reading the new dystopian stuff, and this was new and dystopian. Plus I had the time to read it.
Here, there are two worlds. There is the Outside, where the people are slaves to Protocol—sticking to the technology and practices of an Era of old, of what seem to be Medieval times. And the other is Inside—within the living walls of Incarceron. Incarceron is a prison that lives and thinks, watching the thousands upon thousands of prisoners it traps inside.
One of these prisoners is Finn, a young man who believes he is different—from the Outside. And when he comes across a mysterious Key with the same insignia that's tattooed on his wrist, he is more sure than ever.
Claudia is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, due to be married off to the Prince of the realm. But she will do whatever it takes to escape this fate.
When these two characters come together through a variety of unexpected (on their part) occurrences, they try to hatch a plan to help each other get what they want.
I thought this book was okay. It wasn't outstanding, but it wasn't bad. I liked the ideas, the dystopia of Incarceron and Protocol, but I felt there could have been more development on all counts. None of the characters were very relatable/likable, though some were not as bad as others. A lot of them seemed just a little too flat and/or wooden, while Claudia is usually just plain irritating. She's a somewhat strong heroine, but I didn't particularly like her. The really cool thing about this was that Incarceron is a character in itself; the constantly changing, moving, living organism that contains all its prisoners, some of which are created from its own walls.
I did like the (sparse) plot development of Sapphique, a legendary character who was said to have escaped Incarceron, but not much is revealed in this first book. I would have liked to learn more about him.
There weren't many plot twists that I didn't see coming. It was actually pretty predictable to a point, though there were a few exceptions. Some things were definitely left murky, leaving it open for the sequel, Sapphique. Unfortunately, it's not a particularly memorable novel, so if you read it now and wait for the sequel, you might forget certain plot elements, like I probably will. If you like dystopian YA, I'm not going to say it's a must-read, but it's not a complete waste of time either. If you're interested, it's worth picking up so you can come to your own conclusion.