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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sapphique satisfies
Sapphique is the second volume of a (presumably) 2-book series that began with "Incarcereron". Both are the first books I've read by British author Catherine Fisher, apparently well known as an author of YA fiction. Whatever. I'm not too proud to admit that I liked both very much (despite my 56 years) so make of that what you will.

I don't want any...
Published on April 22, 2010 by James Tepper

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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good - but not completely satisfying
After really enjoying Incarceron, I jumped immediately into Sapphique. I hate to say this, but it didn't quite work for me.

First of all, let me say what I really enjoyed about the book. I loved the plot twists and how Incarceron's power affects the Realm. The switch in narration between the characters in the Realm and the characters in Incarceron kept things...
Published on December 12, 2010 by Antonia C. Tunis


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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sapphique satisfies, April 22, 2010
By 
James Tepper ""Are we there yet"" (Boonton Township, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sapphique (Paperback)
Sapphique is the second volume of a (presumably) 2-book series that began with "Incarcereron". Both are the first books I've read by British author Catherine Fisher, apparently well known as an author of YA fiction. Whatever. I'm not too proud to admit that I liked both very much (despite my 56 years) so make of that what you will.

I don't want any unnecessary spoilers here, but be warned: - if you have not read Incarceron (which is almost obligatory before starting Sapphique) do so or you will be lost, and possibly suffer some (not fatal) mini-spoilers (of Incarceron) in this review.

This is a fairy tale, fit for young and old, that blends good old fashioned SF with fantasy and coming of age motifs. As the story begins (right after Incarceron ends), our hero Finn, has escaped the all-encompassing, break-proof and sapient, prison world, Incarceron, with the help of Claudia, who is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron. Claudia believes Finn is her long lost betrothed Prince, captured and imprisoned in Incarceron 10 years ago, who is destined to rule the "realm" (the outside world) as King by her side as Queen. Where and what Incarceron actually is, is more or less explained in the first book, but no matter.

In "Sapphique" we have a wicked Queen stepmother (more or less) who is scheming to deny Claudia and Finn any chance of happiness, let alone control of the realm. The realm is odd. Everyone is stuck, by virtue of a centuries old "Protocol" in some ersatz 18th century English-type world. Violations of protocol are strictly prohibited (e.g., if you have gangrene there is no chance of antibiotics even though they were invented many centuries ago so you die), and the upper class lives a life of croquet and magnificent costume balls while everyone else lives in squalor. To say more would to be to give too much away.

Suffice it to say that Finn does not remember much of his pre-Incarceron days, while the Queen has conveniently had a "pretender" to the throne appear who seems to be, by all reasonable standards, everything that Finn is not, i.e., the real deal.
---'
There is excitement, adventure and some surprises (but not too many, this is YA after all), and the writing is crisp and fast paced. Everything resolves by the end satisfactorily and this could be the end of the story (and likely is), but.... there is plenty left unexplained and more than sufficient room for a third in the series.

I have no idea why these books, published in the UK 2-5 years ago, have taken so long to cross the Atlantic. They are wonderfully enjoyable for children (9 and up) of all ages.

J.M. Tepper---
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good - but not completely satisfying, December 12, 2010
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This review is from: Sapphique (Kindle Edition)
After really enjoying Incarceron, I jumped immediately into Sapphique. I hate to say this, but it didn't quite work for me.

First of all, let me say what I really enjoyed about the book. I loved the plot twists and how Incarceron's power affects the Realm. The switch in narration between the characters in the Realm and the characters in Incarceron kept things interesting. Fisher teases her readers with hints of the answers to the mysteries of who Sapphique really was and whether Finn is actually Giles.

My main complaint is that she never fully answers those questions. Maybe I missed something, but I finished the book feeling frustrated that the hints never coalesced into a full story. While I liked the way the main plot line wrapped up, the lack of explanation of other pieces made this book only worth 3 stars to me. If it hadn't been for these unresolved issues, I would've given it at least 4 stars.

If you liked Incarceron, you'll want to read Sapphique to see what happens with Claudia, Finn, and the others, but be prepared that not all questions are going to be answered. Fisher's writing style is still entertaining, and the characters are still intriguing. However, it just wasn't completely satisfying.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Confusing can be fun...or frustrating, December 31, 2010
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This review is from: Sapphique (Incarceron) (Hardcover)
For me, reading Catherine Fisher's Sapphique (sequel to Incarceron, which was a London Times as the Best Children's Book of the Year) had moments that left me dizzy--in a good way-- and others that made me confused and frustrated, looking for answers that weren't there. Considering this is a book with parallel settings in a sentient, evil Prison that wants to build a body and escape itself (!) and a technologically advanced future society that exists in an artificially created and unchanging courtly world of the past, it stands to reason the book is more complicated than the average YA novel.

To sum up what's going on: Finn is on the Outside, but isn't fitting into the fine-leather boots of his pre-Incaceron life as Prince Giles. Claudia's trying to outmaneuver Finn's evil stepmother, Queen Sia, who is determined to prevent him from becoming King. Claudia's job is made more difficult because her father, the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in his own Prison. Finn is primarily worried about rescuing Keiro (his oathbrother) and Attia (a former slave whom Finn freed in the previous book) from Incarceron and doesn't really care if he is following Protocol or acting out his princely duties.
First, the high points: Plots twists galore. I never knew where the author was going with the action, and I loved that. In addition to unexpected events (Example: a second "Giles" showing up to challenge Finn for the throne), there are interesting moments of narrative misdirection in Sapphique, like when the book begins with Attia being chosen at random to participate in a magician's show. The description is from Attia's perspective, and there's no hint from what we're shown of her thoughts and reactions that she's in on the game as the magician's "plant" in the audience until after the show is over. (This was, for me, a nice call back to the opening scene of Incarceron, where we see Finn chained to a track as the narration describes his fear and panic. Only in the next scene do we find out he was willingly acting as bait to lure a passing wagon into stopping so his gang could rob them.) Fisher has as many tricks to keep readers off balance as her wonderfully crazy-like-a-fox/just plain crazy illusionist, Rix.
I enjoyed the way I wondered whose side many of the characters were truly on, and questioned the motives of almost everyone at least once. For me, that's a good confusion.
Also, Fisher's descriptive language is wonderful. Setting and scenery aren't filler in her books. If she tells you what a place looks like, particularly inside the Prison, there's a reason. While Attia and Keiro were traveling, the different landscapes they struggled through helped add to the sense of fear, cold, loneliness, despair, or horror. And did I mention Fisher does creepy really well, too? Two words: living puppet. *shudder*

That said, I wish the characters had been more likeable sometimes. I understand why they behave and think as they do, I get their motivations, but I wanted people I could warm up to and root for a bit more. I liked that Finn didn't let the prison take his humanity, and he shows mercy and kindness even when it looks as though it won't benefit him. I also enjoyed the character of Jared, because he was loyal and self-sacrificing, and Attia was smart and strong. But I was hoping for a lot more growth from Claudia, more signs of caring and compassion maybe. However, Keiro still bothers me. Wasn't he the one who caused the Maestra to die in the last book? I can't get over that. And the Warden troubles me, because even though he says he will work to improve the Prison at the end of the book, he never tells Claudia what he knows about Finn/Giles' history. That was very unsatisfying to me, particularly because there were hints here and there in both books that he might have had something to do with the boy's imprisonment.

I was also frustrated that we never learn who Sapphique was originally, and what happened to him. Was he even real? I think the point was that people need something to believe in, and whether that something is real or not matters less than what they do with the faith they have in it. But I didn't want philosophy...I wanted clear answers!

And I don't understand the Magick (or as Rix would say, "the Art Magicke") that allowed Jared to become the new Sapphique by putting on the glove. I like to understand the basic premise of how magic functions in a story. I found myself wondering how and why things happened a lot in this book, and at times there wasn't a satisfying explanation. Like how and why did a wooden music box serve as a communication portal to the Outside? Did I miss some hint beforehand that objects besides the Keys and the Portal could link the two worlds?

Sapphique isn't a book that leaves readers with a warm, fuzzy feeling. There won't be an "all was well" moment when you finish it. Some people will enjoy that bittersweet feeling and the few remaining unresolved, ambiguous points. Personally, I prefer my packages to be tied up with neater bows. '

Overall, I found both Incaceron and Sapphique enjoyable, partly because they're so different than most YA books out there. The settings and plot were wildly creative, and the two converging storylines of the Outside and the Prison kept my interest. But if there were another book to follow (at this time, Sapphique is the end of the story and no further books in the series are planned), I don't think I'd read it. As a whole, I just wasn't that emotionally invested in the characters. For me, that means Sapphique was a good book, but not a great one.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read, with a lot of adventure., September 9, 2010
By 
This review is from: Sapphique (Paperback)
Sapphique picks up about two months after Incarceron ended. Finn has escaped the Incarceron, but as he escaped the warden of the prison enters bring with him the two keys, the only way to enter the Incarceron. With Finn the only one to escape, this left his oathbrother Keiro and Attia in the Incarceron which he promised he would find a way for them to escape as well.

Not only does Finn want to find a way to rescue his friends but he must deal with his own problems in the realm. The realm isn't exactly what he thought it would be. Constricted by the protocol, the realm seems sometimes worse than the prison to Finn. The Queen will do anything to discredit him. And then, another boy announces he is Prince Giles, and Finn finds himself doubting his true identity and Claudia also begins to doubt him. And with no memories of the past, when he use to be Giles, almost everyone else doubts him as well.

In the prison Attia and Keiro try to find a way to escape on their own. Keiro lost faith in his oath brother and is determined to find a way outside. Attia meets up with magician named Rix who is in possession of Saqqhique's glove. Which might be another way to escape the prison and Attia will do anything to possess the glove herself.

Attia and Keiro go through more wings of the prison. Each wing is unique and interesting to read about. The Incarceron itself leads Attia and Keiro through its vastness as they try to find the way to the prisons heart.

There is tons of adventure in the book. It is a quick read with twist and turns. It leaves you hanging with Attia and Keiro and then switches over to Claudia and Finn or visa versa. So, you are always wanting to read more to figure out what is happening to the other characters. The ending is good doesn't leaving you hanging. But, in my opinion, there could be another book.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The eagle and the swan spread their wings to guard it, July 4, 2010
This review is from: Sapphique (Incarceron) (Hardcover)
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Catherine Fisher left plenty of plot threads dangling at the end of sci-fantasy thriller "Incarceron." "Sapphique" picks up where the first book left off, answering countless questions and revealing more about the mysterious cyber-prison and the legendary hero Sapphique. Fisher writes beautifully, and she wraps up the story in a satisfying way.

In the Prison, Attia and her friend Keiro manage to con a crazy magician into giving them the Glove of Sapphique, a magical item that can connect a person's mind to Incarceron. However, Incarceron can only realize its ambitions if it has the glove, so it sends monsters, mayhem and death after the two teenagers -- even as it becomes to fall apart.

In the Realm, Finn is starting to doubt whether he's truly the lost Prince Giles, just in time for the queen to trot out a Pretender who looks exactly like him. Now both he and Claudia are in mortal danger, especially since Jared has become ensnared in one of the queen's malevolent plans -- which might include a civil war.

Somehow I get the feeling that Catherine Fisher was more comfortable writing "Sapphique" than "Incarceron" -- mainly because she gets to reveal pretty much all the secrets of Incarceron and its world. The biggest problem is that this book feels like it should have been split in half and published as two halves; the first and second halves are REALLY different from one another.

Once again, there's one plot set in the mechanical prison and the other in the stagnant Realm, connected but separate for most of the book. Her writing is absolutely exquisite ("They say he is making a man, out of rags and dreams and flowers and metal") and filled with starlight, silver and crumbling ruins where castles should stand. At the same time, plenty of ghastly monsters fill Incarceron, such as the ghastly multi-bodied Chain Gang.

And Fisher drives her characters all the way to the finish line in this book. Finn has to unravel his own past and discover if he truly is Prince Giles, even as he transforms from a confused moody boy into a charismatic young royal. And Jared -- who was mainly the Obi-Wan Kenobi of "Incarceron" -- gets to shine, a wise sage who is facing not only his own death but the death of his world.

In fact, Fisher brings out depths in many of the characters -- the arrogant ruined Queen, the former Warden, the spirited Attia and the completely loopy Rix. Some are limp like Caspar and the nasty little Pretender, but most are excellent.

"Sapphique" would have benefited from being turned into two books, but it's a truly enthralling second part to the story of Incarceron and the people trapped inside it. Lovely.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing!, June 30, 2011
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This review is from: Sapphique (Incarceron) (Hardcover)
I didn't like the lack of description of Incarceron (the first book) and I gave this one 2 stars instead of 1 only because in this book Incarceron - the prison - was fully described which I enjoyed.

But I have to say that the author could have done so much more with this plot. I was very dissapointed by the end, I didn't like the end AT ALL!

First, the author never answered the mysteries of who Sapphique really was and whether Finn is actually Giles. So we've read 2 whole books and have no answers. For me Finn is prince Giles but I didn't appreciate that at the very end the author plant an unnecessary seed of doubt in the readers.

** Spoiler Alert **

Second, poor Finn/Giles after having a tormented life in prison, he only struggled with so much more on the Outside and only to inherit a poor devasted kingdom at the end??! Come on! At least make him have something at the end!!!

And third, during this whole story with so much lies, mean people, negative things, problems and struggles at least I think there should had been a little love to balance all these things. But NO love, Claudia was always cold and distant with Finn and I thought that would change at the end, but nothing! And they are supposed to get married even thought she never truly believed him ... that's very strange to me. Maybe she did love him but how are we suppposed to know if she never thought or say anything to him?
We also didn't get a hug from the Warden to her daughter, not even when they thought they were about to die in Incarceron.
And last but not least, Keiro liked Attia at the end, but also nothing happened there cause obviously Attia fancied Finn. Again, no words, no romance.
I closed the book thinking the author have some issues with expressing feelings and love demonstration. Important things that could had made this book very enjoyable and a great reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just ok for me, February 10, 2011
By 
This review is from: Sapphique (Incarceron) (Hardcover)
This book didn't grab me like I hoped it would.

Sapphique is the sequel to Catherine Fisher's Incarceron (Click for Review) which has been a huge international success, and anticipating a movie starring Taylor Lautner. I was torn on how I felt about Incarceron, and really hoped that Sapphique would help push me over to the fan's side. Unfortunately, it fell short.

The novel switched locations between Inside Incarceron, the prison and Outside Incarceron, the false Elizabethan Era Realm. While usually this type of switching back and forth helps the pacing of a novel, this technique made me bonkers. Just as things would start to get exciting, Fisher would cut to a scene in the other realm. I'm sure some people might say this added to the tension and the excitement. I usually love when chapters end off with a bit of a cliff hanger, but I felt that I had to read 30 pages to get to any action, only to be left empty.

The entire novel revolves around Sapphique's glove, and whether it could offer a way out of Incarceron. The Glove, to be honest, confused me. At times I expected Rix to say, "My Precious!" like he was in Lord of The Rings. Other times, I was simply too confused to care.

I also felt the relationships seemed unfinished. Fisher put SO much time into building these two fantastic worlds, she didn't have space for the people inside them. I'm thinking of the relationships between Finn and Kiero, Finn and Claudia, Claudia and her Father, Attia and Kiero...they each had potential for something deeper and more meaningful.

The only point of the novel which really worked for me was the final chapter, which was exciting and satisfying.

It took me an unusually long time to read Sapphique, it didn't call to me and I felt like I really had to push myself through to the end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than Incareron, February 6, 2011
This review is from: Sapphique (Incarceron) (Hardcover)
Those of you who really liked "Incarceron" are going to love this book. In so many ways, "Sapphique" is superior. For one thing, the prison comes alive in this book. My big complaint about Incarceron as it was described in the first volume was that it was boring. There was all this great publisher hype of text and video that made it sound all dark and mysterious, but the prison never lived up to that vision -- until "Sapphique". Finally with the introduction of some truly interesting and vivid descriptions, my vision of some Star Trek styled sentient prison could be cast aside. In Sapphique, Incarceron the prison is mysterious and creepy.

A second improvement is the characterizations. While I and others thought Claudia was the only interesting people in the first volume, in Sapphique we get a more interesting perspective on all of the other major characters: Finn, Keiro, Jered, Claudia's father, and Attria.

BUT as much as Sapphique was better than Incarceron, it still didn't make me give it even a half-star more, and here's why. First, despite the fact that there were long pages of can't-put-that-book down excitement, I found that I wasn't very vested in the story. I had to remind myself that I needed to read it, and the dishes and laundry didn't get stacked up.

I'm not quite sure how to explain this, but in part I blame it on some of the plotting which had too much of a contrived feel. Another thing which grated was the rapid switching back-and-forth between worlds and points of view. I don't mind this happening from chapter to chapter, it's pretty much de rigor these days. But when it happens three or four times within a chapter, well that just seems like too much effort is being made to be 'dramatic'. I mean it's not like its a novel technique, and if you have to do in order to build tension then maybe it would be better to write more tension into the text and not rely on artifice.

CONCLUSION::: This wasn't a book for me. It had features of interest but for some reason didn't break through the cold crust of my heart. I certainly can see though why others would rate it higher. (I'm not sure about why anyone would rate it lower.) In my estimation though, it's what I call a "Library Find". If I had paid cash I'd be unhappy.

Pam T~
mom/#kidlit #YAlit blogger
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was hoping for, January 23, 2011
This review is from: Sapphique (Incarceron) (Hardcover)
I enjoyed many elements (and there are MANY) of Incarceron, but it felt extremely incomplete, so I was excited to read Sapphique. Often both books feel like 3 or 4 interesting storylines irresponsibly smashed together into one. Unfortunatly, Sapphique had all the problems of Incarceron and only limited resolution. One main annoyance in both books is the repetative vocabulary. Are there no alternatives to acrid? Or gaudy? It just feels lazy to me. The plotlines are chopped up so much that none of them flow properly. Every section ending seems to end with some giant revelation to be discovered when that part finally comes back around. Every event takes so long I found myself skipping ahead to see what finally happens. Some characters seem to be thrown in for no real reason. Those characters who the reader are supposed to care about are shallow. It is unclear in the end who is good, who is bad, who the reader should be rooting for, who the reader should despise. And then never to really even know who's who and why and what the origins of ANYthing are at all is quite frustrating. It is one thing to be mysterious, even to leave some things for the reader to decide, but the entire ending of the book was a big question mark. If there is a third book, I would probably look for a review somewhere that would tell me what happened instead of wading through another storyline that doesn't know where it is going or how to get there.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Incarceron Fans Will Enjoy the Sequel, But It Is No Better, January 2, 2011
This review is from: Sapphique (Incarceron) (Hardcover)
Sapphique was not better than the first book in the series, but it was easier for me to get through, perhaps because I had much lower expectations. All of my problems with the first book still remain here.

The characters, all of them, are pretty much entirely unlikeable. Jared, Claudia's tutor, is the character I most liked, but the reader has known since the beginning of book one that he has an incurable disease, distancing one's affection for him. Claudia is obnoxious, power-hungry and mistrusting. Finn alternates between being emo and arrogant. Keiro is as he has ever been. Attia never really seems to coalesce into a definite personality. And those are just the characters you are supposed to be rooting for.

Romance is not to be found in Sapphique, even though the book ends with an engagement in place for two of them. Those two characters have absolutely no chemistry; in fact, the girl is clearly in love with someone else.

If you liked Incarceron, I doubt you will be disappointed by Sapphique. Otherwise, don't bother.
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Sapphique (Incarceron)
Sapphique (Incarceron) by Catherine Fisher (Hardcover - December 28, 2010)
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