Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

(Cover picture courtesy of Never Too Fond of Books.)

Finn cannot remember his childhood.  He cannot remember his life before Incarceron—a prison that has been sealed for centuries, where inmates live in cells, dilapidated cities, and unbounded wilderness.  No one has ever escaped.  But then he finds a crystal key and a girl named Claudia.

Claudia’s father is the Warden of Incarceron.  And Claudia is about to become a kind of prisoner herself, doomed to an arranged marriage.  If she helps Finn in his escape, she will need his help in return.

But they don’t realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye.  Escape will take their greatest courage and far more than they know…because Incarceron is alive.

There is only one word to describe Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron:


There is no other world to describe this futuristic science fiction-fantasy hybrid but weird.  Truly, even as widely read as I am, I have never read a book like this.  It’s unique in a good way, with excellent world-building and interesting themes.  I’m not even going to hazard a guess as to where the inspiration for the world of Incarceron came from.  It probably wouldn’t make sense to most people anyway.

The fantastic and bizarre world of Incarceron sort of makes up for the characters, which were somewhat lacking.  For whatever reason, I just really couldn’t connect with either Claudia or Finn.  Claudia is like me in some ways, so I should have been able to connect with her, but I just couldn’t.  Finn…I really didn’t like him from the start, so there was no hope there.  In my eyes, Catherine Fisher just couldn’t breathe life into her characters.

The plot is fast-paced and switches points of view in all the right places to keep people reading.  There are a few predictable plot points, but I certainly couldn’t predict every plot twist.  So if you like fast-paced novels with great world-building but don’t mind poorly developed characters, you’ll love Incarceron.

I give this book 3.5/5 stars.

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