Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Published January 26th 2010 by Dial (first published January 1st 2007)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Goodreads summary: A thrilling, high-concept fantasy for fans of Garth Nix and Nancy Farmer.
Incarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells, but also metal forests, dilapidated cities, and vast wilderness. Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, has no memory of his childhood and is sure that he came from Outside Incarceron. Very few prisoners believe that there is an Outside, however, which makes escape seems impossible.
And then Finn finds a crystal key that allows him to communicate with a girl named Claudia. She claims to live Outside- she is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, and doomed to an arranged marriage. Finn is determined to escape the prison, and Claudia believes she can help him. But they don't realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost more than they know.
Incarceron had me at hello with it's opening and good writing style, and it only got better as we got to know each other closer. I am impressed with the wordbuilding and detailed descriptions of the holographic reality. Claudia is a good character that I didn't have troubles connecting to, and more than anything I needed to know more about Incarceron, the perfect prison.
That said, I have a fair share of problems with this book. Characters other than Claudia are rather uninteresting, even Finn, whom I expected to have a bit more blood. Despite my initial enthusiasm, this book turned out to be quite predictable. The political "intrigue" is a common one, and the greatest mystery of all turned out to be a no brainer at all if you've seen Men In Black. I was hoping it wouldn't be that obvious, but eh, I was disappointed.
These problems aside, Incarceron still managed to pack a few punches and keep me intrigued. It is a suspenseful read and its excellent steampunkish setting is why I'm looking forward to reading Sapphique.