Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
# of pages: 464 (UK paperback edition)
If Incarceron was a school subject, it would definitely be science. I love science, I find it fascinating, but I’m not very good at it… kind of like my reading experience!
Okay, so in a nutshell – how about I go ahead and set the stage for you, and maybe save your brain some racking? I have no idea if this is supposed to be Earth or if this is an entirely fictional universe, but whatever it is, it’s sometime in the future after a major war has taken place. Sound pretty Dystopian 101, right? Well, this society decides to halt progress of any kind (technological, mostly) and return to a simpler way of life; thus the society is 18th century based, with some contraband technology thrown in (sidenote: I really, really do love this concept! I love the blending of the old with the new! COOL!) Meanwhile, the powers that be created Incarceron – an experimental “prison” that they populated with criminals, political prisoners, and all other kinds of undesirables…* One of these prisoners, a 17-year-old boy named Finn, truly believes that he does not belong in Incarceron: he is convinced that he came from Outside. When he finds a Key that allows him to communicate with a girl on the outside, Finn launches a desperate escape plot all the while attempting to unravel the secrets of his past.
Plot: From page 1, Incarceron hits the ground running! I can definitely say that there are no dull points in this riveting, action-packed story. I think, though, that the fast-paced action comes at the expense of character and story development. There’s so much action in this story, but there’s not a lot of explanation and so a lot of the time there’s confusion as to what’s going on and how things relate to each other. It seems like you learn things in fragments. But hey, this book is incredibly fast-paced and so you don’t stay in the dark for long.
Characters: I really liked the two main characters, Finn and Claudia, and thought that their respective storylines were pretty interesting. I loved seeing their separate lives start to blend and was definitely cheering for them the whole way! As usual, I’m divided on the supporting characters.** Because there’s so much action in this 400+ book, characterization seemed to take a backseat. That’s not to say that characters weren’t developed; they just didn’t really seem explored. Incarceron seems like a very psychological novel, and I honestly could have done with more in-depth character exploration, especially when it came to relationships and how characters dealt with each other. Claudia/Jared/the Warden are very well done, and I felt like I really understood their part of the story and what they were going through, but I didn’t feel like I got as much from the characters inside Incarceron. For everything that has happened to Finn, I would have liked more psychological exploration. And Finn and Keiro’s weird, warped relationship confused me – for example, *why* does Finn just take Keiro’s crap?
So to summarize: VERY GOOD characters – they’re all interesting and useful to the plot (no “filler” characters, in other words)…SOMEWHAT LACKING on how these characters are explored and how they relate to each other.
- Violence: Yeah, so this is a dystopian science fiction book that, even though marketed to children/YA audiences, has a great deal of violence. Hey, most of the story takes place in a prison, though, so it’s not really out-of-place.
- Sex: there’s no sex in here, but I did catch a couple references to it, just so you know…
- Language: I was actually surprised at the language in here. Nothing “hardcore” but still...and interestingly enough, it's Claudia, the *girl* who does most of the swearing! Haha, I think that's kind of butch for a girl to swear...it just seems kind of out-of-place. Oh well, whatever.
If this book was a movie, I think it would be a high PG-13. It’s not quite bad enough to be an ‘R,’ but it’s pretty intense.
This book was definitely fun to read, and also fun to figure out. Yeah, I had fun figuring everything else out! This book also got me thinking about a lot of things: can everybody escape, and who must stay behind? Can everybody be saved? Does everybody deserve to be saved?
See what happens when books make me think?! I love it! I’ve got Sapphique to read next, but I’ve been thinking about a change of pace…maybe reading something with a little less nuance next. Still, I’ll be hitting Sapphique soon! I want to find out what happens to Finn, Claudia and Incarceron!
Final Rating: 4.3 – in between my 4-and-4.5 star rating. I know, I can’t make up my mind! Incarceron is an awesome plot with great characters, but it could have been better explained and explored.