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78 of 83 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I am Everywhere
Incarceron: it's a vast intelligent city-prison, sealed off from the outside world and hidden from everybody except the Warden.

So it's pretty much inevitable that one day, a way out -- or a way in -- will be found. Catherine Fisher's "Incarceron" is a hauntingly original sci-fi/fantasy story, setting up two very different characters in two parts of a stagnated...
Published on February 3, 2010 by E. A Solinas

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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Left Me Wanting So Much More
Incarceron is a very original story unlike any I have read. One main character, Finn, is stuck in a prison, trying to escape, slowly reclaiming memories. The other main character, Claudia, is stuck in a prison of her own, an arranged marriage to someone she despises. She is living in a technologically advanced society that has decided to revert back to the time of kings,...
Published on April 12, 2010 by Ithlilian


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78 of 83 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I am Everywhere, February 3, 2010
Incarceron: it's a vast intelligent city-prison, sealed off from the outside world and hidden from everybody except the Warden.

So it's pretty much inevitable that one day, a way out -- or a way in -- will be found. Catherine Fisher's "Incarceron" is a hauntingly original sci-fi/fantasy story, setting up two very different characters in two parts of a stagnated future world. It's kind of confusing at times, but it smoothly clicks into gear after awhile.

Both Claudia and Finn are trapped. She's the Warden's pampered daughter, and is about to be married off to a playboy prince for her father's benefit. He's an amnesiac boy in the Scum gang, plagued by seizures that give him prophetic visions.

But their lives take unexpected turns when a prisoner taken in a Scum raid on a train recognizes Finn's eagle tattoo, and he manages to get his hands on a mysterious key that might allow him to get outside -- if he can find the door. And Claudia is plotting with her dying teacher to get a mysterious key hidden in the Warden's office.

When the two keys bring Claudia and Finn into contact, Finn suddenly has hope that he can escape Incarceron -- but instead he encounters the true horrors of the secret prison. And in her desperation to avoid marrying the bratty prince, Claudia uncovers a secret plot that her father is involved with... and not only Finn's secrets, but her own.

Metal trees, stagnant royal courts, sorcery, creepy old crones and high-tech prisons that always watch with red camera eyes. The world of "Incarceron" is a pretty weird one, and it works pretty well considering it seems to be cobbled together from all sorts of strange sources -- the only real problem is that Fisher takes a VERY long time to mesh together her two main storylines. And I'm still not quite sure what the Sapienti are.

Fisher has strangely haunting, vivid prose, with lots of tangled plots and motives, and some moments of pure horror (Finn encountering a vast, freakish Beast made of bugs, dead flesh and metal). While it starts off very slow, the plot really starts speeding up when Finn and Claudia encounter each other, both in the keys and in person. And Fisher manages to throw some genuine surprises into the mix -- while keeping the door wide open for a sequel.

Claudia and Finn are likable characters who are both similar and very different -- they're trapped and manipulated, yet they both crave freedom from their terrible lives. Fisher also twines in a bunch of supporting characters whose motives are often murky -- you've got bratty princes, malevolent queens, the icy Warden, the sickly mentor Jared and the tricksteresque oathbrother Keiro.

"Incarceron" is kind of slow-moving through the first half, but fortunately there's enough plot, chills and intrigue to make up for that. And I think the story of Incarceron isn't over.
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87 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One awesome book!, January 5, 2008
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This review is from: Incarceron (Paperback)
Flinn has no memory except bits of pieces from Outside. He lives in a vast prison where cruelty and danger is the norm.

Claudia lives in a manor house stuck in a 17th century world run by computers.

A world were artists and poets are doomed to endless repetitions of the past.

Her life is about to change as she's about to marry a spoiled prince and enter a society filled with whispers of assassination plots. Her father is Warden of Incarceron, the prison which is tucked away. No one can enter and no one can leave.

Or so they thought.

Flinn and Claudia's worlds collide when they both find a key. A key that might be the way out of the prison for Flinn and inside for Claudia.

Both will be surprised at the secrets hidden in Incarceron. As will be the reader on this very imaginative, exciting tale.

I loved this book. The author does a great job of introducing the reader to both worlds--the one inside Incarceron and the one outside. Both POV's flow seamlessly in this tale. Flinn's struggles to find out if he does belong Outside are powerful. He refuses to accept the belief he can never leave. Both worlds are rich with detail. I can't help but wonder if there's a sequel in the works?

I highly recommend this book! Right now it's only available in the UK but I'm sure it'll be coming here soon. It's well worth the wait!
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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Left Me Wanting So Much More, April 12, 2010
Incarceron is a very original story unlike any I have read. One main character, Finn, is stuck in a prison, trying to escape, slowly reclaiming memories. The other main character, Claudia, is stuck in a prison of her own, an arranged marriage to someone she despises. She is living in a technologically advanced society that has decided to revert back to the time of kings, queens, and formal court life. My main point of interest was the plot. I wanted to know why the ruling king decided to force everyone to live in another time period, why they decided to build such a strange prison system as Incarceron, and I wanted to know what exactly Incarceron was. I don't think the plot was fully realized. There is so much potential in the setup, but the novel felt mediocre.

There are 400+ pages in this book, and a large part of it takes place in Incarceron. Therefore, I should be able to describe what Incarceron is like. That is not the case. The escapees were traveling along some course that was not plotted out, over land that wasn't described very well, to a destination that was completely unknown. I can't say what Incarceron looks like in general. There were plenty of descriptions of metal trees and a few cells, but everything else just seemed like a blur. I've never read a novel where I understood so little about a place. I have no problem not having the answers to the questions I posed in the first paragraph, but I really did want to get a good feel of what Incarceron was like, and I didn't get that at all. What is daily life like for people on Incarceron? I have no idea, and I don't like that.

Another issue I had was the way certain secrets were handled. As a reader, I enjoy when the author keeps me guessing and doesn't reveal everything about a character's past outright. I do not enjoy when one sentence reveals everything, and the author continues to act like it is a mystery. That occurred in Incarceron very early, I won't give out the page number to avoid possible spoilers. Later in the novel, it happens again in the snippet at the beginning of one of the chapters. I would rather have the story unfold normally, than figure out a big secret so early. Even knowing a few of the mysteries, there is plenty to keep the reader interested. The plot itself is so unique that I had to read the entire thing to be satisfied. I didn't get answers to the questions I really cared about, and the abrupt ending left even more questions than I started with.

Overall, this book was just ok. I was more annoyed than enthralled with the lack of important details about Incarceron and the outside world. I really think Incarceron could have been so much better. There is so much potential with this unique storyline, but the execution was not good. The events that occurred in the prison were a huge turn off and almost made me push the rating down more. I don't think I've ever wanted so much more out of a novel. Oh well, all I can do is hope for more information in the next book. It goes to show that an interesting plot can go a long way, even with bad supporting details.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Complex and Horrifying Dystopian Masterpiece, January 31, 2010
There are two kinds of great novels. There's the kind that you can't put down, an addiction running through your bloodstream, the kind that, time permitting, you inhale in one single reading. That kind would be those rare books like The Hunger Games.

Then there's the other kind of great book. This kind shakes the foundations of your literary beliefs. It haunts your dreams, your thoughts during the daytime, and may even give you nightmares. But you can't read this in one sitting, so intense it is, so much figurative weight it holds.

INCARCERON is this type of novel.

18-year-old Finn was "born" three years ago in the massive prison Incarceron. He can't remember life before the prison, but he is sure that, unlike nearly everyone else in Incarceron, he came from somewhere else, somewhere Outside. Aided only by strange visions, a mysterious crystal key, and the legend of Sapphique, the only man who ever escaped Incarceron, Finn is determined to escape as well.

Outside Incarceron, in a world trapped in time by the royal dynasty's will, Claudia, the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is about to undergo an arranged marriage that she has no desire to be a part of. She steals her father's key to Incarceron, but what began as an act of petulance soon gives way to something more sinister and significant when she discovers that she can talk to a boy named Finn through the key, and a boy who is trapped in Incarceron and asks for her help to escape.

Neither one of them, however, can begin to imagine the scope of what they're dealing with. There are plenty of people who want to keep the teens in the dark about Incarceron and court politics. And the prison itself is alive, and it is not so willing to aid them...

INCARCERON is not a book that makes you immediately fall in love with it. In fact, in many aspects it's actually quite the opposite. Neither Claudia nor Finn are extremely likable: Claudia was raised by the Warden to be shrewd and calculating, while Finn often feels like a passive goody-two-shoes undeservingly stuck in a horrible situation. Catherine Fisher also drops readers unapologetically into her world, with the result being that you're left scrambling for something to hold onto as you struggle to adjust yourself to this confusing world full of court intrigue, secrets, and threats.

But as the story moved along, I found myself slowly being drawn in, gradually getting caught up in the parallel desperations of Finn and Claudia's stories. While the plot arc of the novel seems to move slowly, each chapter is packed full of interesting conversations or scenarios, so that, while you are able to put down the book, you will hardly lose interest. Fisher has an effortless way with words, mesmerizing and creepy at the same time.

The revelation at the end is of the jaw-dropping degree, and is what convinced me of Catherine Fisher's literary mastery. It's not often that an author can manage to string readers along, and then throw them for a completely unexpected--and yet, if you think about it, actually quite brilliantly sensible--loop. Fisher's storytelling experience shows in the way she weaves together this complex novel.

INCARCERON will probably best appeal to fans of high sci-fi or fantasy, as it is a difficult story to digest. But if this is the type of book you crave, then you will be justly rewarded for your time. Perhaps you, too, will be like me, and try to recommend this book to everyone you know, believing that it is a book worthy of handselling and wider recognition.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good concept, awkward writing, June 27, 2010
I was excited to read this book, because so many people had recommended it, putting it in the same category with such books as Hunger Games (which is amazing.) So I started and the book fell quite short of my expectations. I just felt like I had to persist and it would pick up eventually. After struggling through the first 250 pages, I was mildly entertained enough to endure to the end. However, by that time, you knew what was going to happen. Although these issues, by themselves are not what let to my poor rating of this book.
Catherine Fisher's writing is, in one word, awkward. She drops you into what feels like the middle of her book, with no clear explanation of anything. Her development of the world around the characters is clunky at best. And for a fantasy novel, being able to imagine and visualize the world in which your characters live is essential. The action sequences are poorly described as well and it's usually not until the end of them that you understand what just happened. Her dialogue between characters is poorly written and often you have no idea who is talking. She prattles on adding more and more open ends right up until the last 10 pages when she tries to tie everything together enough so that the book can end. And I'm not talking about an "Oooo, there's gonna be a sequel that I'm so excited to read" kind of open ending. I'm talking about an "I'm really bored with writing this book and my editor gave me a due date that I have to comply with" kind of ending. In fact, I didn't realize that there was a sequel until I got on here to write a review. I just figured it was another example of her poor writing.
At this point, I don't want to trudge through another 500 pages of something that could be written better by 16 year old AP English student, so I don't think I'll be reading the sequel.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good start, but poor middle and ending, August 21, 2010
I picked up Incarceron from my local bookstore and couldn't wait to start it. The plot was interesting enough: Finn, an inmate in Incarceron (a prison unlike no other) believes he comes from the outside. Claudia, the daughter of Incarceron's warden is determined to escape an arranged marriage and figure out the secrets of Incarceron. When both Claudia and Finn find a key, they find each other, and are both determined to uncover the secrets of Incarceron.

Eagerly, I began devouring the book. The book is 400+ pages, but the print is big and is a fairly quick read. I finished the book in about a day. I WILL say it is one of the better sci-fi/fantasy YA books I've read in a while, but that doesn't make it good. I had a few problems with this book, and unfortunately, its cons outweigh its pros.

*This review includes SPOILERS*

My problems:

1.) The writing - Catherine Fisher writes in a very simplistic, way. It's easy to follow and it fit the book. My problem was the description of Incarceron. Many times I had to re-read passages because her description of Incarceron was very, very vague. Honestly, I cannot for the life of me describe Incarceron accurately. There are also times where Catherine Fisher will put a huge word, randomly. This takes away from the book. If you're going to write a book with more challenging vocabulary, don't randomly dump the word every 30-50 pages or so.

The ending was so vague I still DON'T know what happened after re-reading the last 20 pages at least four times.

2.) The characters - From the inside flap of the book, I was anticipating an interesting male character who was curious about his past life, brave, and courageous. I pictured a girl with determination, who was wise and mature for her time. Unfortunately, I didn't get this. Instead, Finn turned out to be gullible, naive, passive, and Gary Stu-ish. I didn't feel anything for him--he just seemed like an empty character.

Claudia, was a little better, but still not that good. I liked Claudia because she actually DOES something, but much like Finn, she falls flat and resonates more like a blank slate character than an interesting heroine. I had trouble remembering that both Claudia and Finn were seventeen years old because they acted immature and childish. The relationship between Finn/Claudia was not believable to me at all.

I did not like how Catherine Fisher introduced so MANY characters yet gave little to no information about them. I have no idea how to describe Keiro, Attia, Jared, or the Queen. Sound like a lot of characters? There's at least five more. There was such a wide variety of characters I often forgot their names or got their names messed up. I feel like Catherine Fisher would have benefitted by axing off a good three characters or so.

3.) Lack of information - Even from the start, you are given very little information about Incarceron, Information is so scarce, the first two chapters will have you go, "Huh? What?" and all there variations. Even now, I still don't know what the Sapienti are. It feels as if you have skipped a whole book. I must admit, I looked at the spine of this book many times just to make sure this was indeed the first book of the series.

4.) Anti-climatic ending? - The ending is debatable. Was it something I was expecting? No. Does that make it good? No. I felt like the ending was rather sloppy and rushed. The whole thing about Incarceron being small felt a bit like a cop-out to me. Catherine Fisher could have done SO much, but instead she makes Incarceron a little cube (or something along those lines.)

What I did like:

1.) The cover - It's a very pretty cover. Too bad it's hardcover.

2.) Jared and Keiro - These two were really the characters that kept me reading on. Jared was intriguing and I hope he is featured more prominently in the next book because he really was one of the saving graces. Keiro is your typical egotistical sort of anti-hero, but I understood where he was coming from.

Overall, I think Incarceron would have benefitted more if it was split up into two different books. Incarceron is a good start from Fisher, and there is potential, but it is wasted in this book. The characters are hard to connect to because they're no more than Deus ex Machina's, the plot is interesting but executed poorly, and the ending feels like Fisher took the easy way out. I will pick up the second book, but if it fails to impress me, I will not pick up the third.

Recommended to fantasy lovers. Similar books include: The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner (both of which were better, in my opinion.)

3 out of 5 stars.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Fantasy!, November 30, 2009
By 
This review is from: Incarceron (Paperback)
I loved this book! I'm already aching to read the sequel! It was one of the best fantasy novels I've read in a while. The book began with an intense scene and it didn't slow down. There was a lot of great action and tension as the reader gets sucked into the world of the prison. I cheered for Finn's escape the whole way through the book. Claudia was just as wonderful as I found myself rooting for her to make new discoveries that would help Finn escape.

The world created by Fisher is so immense but we get wonderful background information through the chapter quotes and some of them are quite beautiful and lyrical. I appreciated how the story was able to develop to give the reader more insight into the mysterious world, and even more mysterious prison. This isn't a prison I'd ever want to be jailed in. The prison is a perpetual threat and becomes another living character in the story.

The plot was original and the writing kept me interested and flipping through the pages. Overall, it was a fast, entertaining read!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark, exciting fantasy adventure, February 10, 2010
Incarceron is a dark, intelligent fantasy unlike any other. This book pulls no punches as it describes two worlds; one a living prison where society has sent all of its criminals and its wisest leaders in a great "social experiment" to create a perfect society, and the other a world that has voluntarily stunted its own growth, put itself into its own prison by outlawing progress. Incarcercon is by no means a perfect society. It has turned into a violent hell ruled by the prison itself which allows lawless bands of criminals to prey on the weak. It's counterpart is a world filled with political intrigue, spying, backstabbing and assassination. These two worlds meet when Finn, a prisoner of Incarceron finds the key and uses it to contact Claudia, the daughter of the prison warden.

The characters in this novel are brave yet terrified, smart yet naive; in other words very human. They drive this novel through a sea of suspense, meeting up with incredible characters and situations as they work from outside the prison and inside to find a way for them both to escape.

This novel is slow going in the beginning, but hang with it! The author takes a bit to set her incredible universe and it is well worth the wait. I would recommend this to any fantasy lover from 6th grade to adults as it is a truly unique look at society. I can't wait for the next one in this series.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Less than Expected, April 5, 2010
The story description sounded so much more interesting than the book actually was. The characters were sort of flat and I did not really care what happened to them. The setting was rather vague and contradictory. By royal decree people are forced to live a 17th century existance without the evils of technology but the whole thing is run by a computer wha? There is also a sort of self-aware miniature prison world that is pretty vague as well. I enjoyed other books by Fisher so much more than Incarceron. I have no desire for the sequel but do recommend Fisher's previous books including Darkhenge and her Oracle series.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy-lovers will be drawn in...and will not be disappointed in Fisher's clever and expertly crafted plot, February 1, 2010
By 
Seventeen-year-old Finn is convinced he does not belong in Incarceron, the endless nightmare of a prison. Created hundreds of years ago by the wise council of the Sapienti, Incarceron is unlike any prison ever constructed. Prisoners do not just live in cells but also the world that is Incarceron. This includes rundown cities, unbridled wilderness, deep chasms and the unknown. According to legend, only one man has ever escaped to the "Outside": the mysterious Sapphique. Finn plans on following in Sapphique's footsteps, but a few obstacles stand in his way, one of which is the person who overlooks Incarceron: the Warden.

On the Outside, only the Warden knows the secrets of Incarceron, and he has no plans to share them, not even to his only daughter, Claudia. Being the Warden's daughter, Claudia has been exposed to the finest things money can buy. Her trusty tutor, Jared, has left out nothing from her top-notch education. There are strings attached to this upbringing, however, and the Warden has slowly been preparing Claudia to become queen in an arranged marriage she is dreading. It doesn't help that she is also terrified of her father and his power over both her and Incarceron.

Circumstances begin to change for Finn and Claudia when they both come into possession of a mysterious crystal key. Claudia managed to swipe hers from her father's study, while Finn procured his after a deadly hostage exchange. Not only do the keys enable Finn to unlock doors within Incarceron, they also allow Claudia and Finn to see and hear each other. Armed with this new power, they pledge to help one another escape their ill-fated situations.

Claudia is now in a race against time. Her marriage is only days away, and she is determined to help Finn escape --- even if that means entering Incarceron herself. But a conspiracy brewing in the royal court just may end any hope of rescue. She is also unsure how to avoid the all-knowing, all-condemning authority of the Warden.

Meanwhile, Finn is in a battle against both himself and the deadly prison. Untold dangers lay ahead the dark and twisting world of Incarceron. Finn's band of followers --- oathbrother Keiro, slave-girl Attia and resident prophet Gildas --- are just as clueless as Finn. Does he have enough determination to overcome the deception of Incarceron, and is it even possible for someone to leave? Incarceron is alive, watching and waiting.

The idea of putting the world's criminals, terrorists and murderers into a self-sustaining prison is both alluring and intriguing. Not only would it potentially rid the world of immediate danger, it would also place the prisoners in a supernatural environment that appears free from the restrictions of a cell. Author Catherine Fisher takes this theory and runs with it. She has the difficult task of creating two completely opposite worlds and melding them into one storyline --- and ultimately succeeds on every level. Fantasy-lovers will be drawn into the worlds of INCARCERON and will not be disappointed in Fisher's clever and expertly crafted plot. Add this one to your reading list immediately.

--- Reviewed by Benjamin Boche (bennyboche@hotmail.com)
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Incarceron
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher (Paperback - February 8, 2011)
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