Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Plot Summary:
Claudia has always known one thing: Time has stopped. On the Outside, Claudia plays the role of the dutiful daughter who is in line to become Queen of the Realm. However, she is not happy about this endeavor since it is her father's grand plan to marry her to the Queen's son, giving her, and him, ultimate power. What makes her so special? Her father is the warden of Incarceron, a living prison that does what it wants and when it wants. What was once a plan to rehabilitate prisoners, Incarceron has become a world where no goes in and no one goes out. In this world, seventeen-year-old Finn, known as the Starseer, is part of the Comitatus, which rules one end of Incarceron. Although he is part of vicious group of "scum" he and his oathbrother, Keiro, fight to survive Incarceron's ever watchful eye. What was supposed to be a routine ambush, Finn holds a woman hostage and she holds the key to his past, which is what will lead on an extraordinary journey through Incarceron that will rival the legend of Sapphique...the only prisoner to escape from this living prison. As Claudia prepares for her "doom," she decides to defy her father and unlock his secrets of Incarceron, but what she does not plan on is that her discovery will connect her with Finn, which strikes a series of unfortunate events that will reveal years of deception and an assassination plot.  

Critical Evaluation:
Incarceron is an incredibly complex, but fast-paced and one heck of a read. I honestly wasn't sure if I could make it through this story, but once I got started I was done for. Catherine Fisher has created a world that is not only beautiful, but incredibly hideous at the same time. By providing readers with two very different worlds, they will begin to understand that neither of these worlds is free from tyranny and oppression. Although one is quiet and peaceful, the citizens are bound by "protocol" where art, music, free-speech, and  progress are forbidden. The other world is filled with fear and violence where only the strongest will survive. Despite these differences, the people, aristocrats and scum, are not in control of their destinies, which lead to one result: chaos. Although the main plot of the story is to bring Finn to the Outside to take his place in society, the separate subplots provide unique elements to these complicated worlds where freedom is the ultimate goal.

Information about the Author:
According to her website, Catherine Fisher was born in Newport Wales. She graduated from the University of Wales with a degree in English and has worked in education and archeology and has lectured,in creative writing at the University of Glamorgan (para.1). Not only is she an award-winning children's author, and poet, she has also written a variety of science fiction and fantasy series as well. Here is what Catherin Fisher says about Incarceron:
Incarceron and its sequel are certainly the most complex books I’ve written. They were a wild roller-coaster ride of fun, invention, despair and worry. Sometimes I thought I would never get through it; other times the book seemed to write itself, the characters took over, things happened I hadn’t even foreseen. I had a really mixed bunch of characters, the austere, dangerous Warden; feisty Claudia, arrogant, vain Keiro; Finn who never quite tells the truth. And Jared, Claudia’s gentle, clever tutor. There are lots of relationships of various sorts going on here which I tried to imply more than state. Also there are a few mid-blowing twists in the story that seriously jolt the reader into amazement. At least I hope they do!
Teen Fantasy

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9& up

Books Similar to Incarceron:

Awards & Recognition:
  • 2007 Mythopoeic Society of America's Children's Fiction Award
  • 2008 Times Children's Book of the Year 
  • Starred Review Booklist (1/1/2010)
  • Starred Review Publisher's Weekly (12/7/2009)
  • Starred Review Horn book (1/1/2010)
  • Starred Review School Library Journal (2/2/2010)
  • Kirkus Review (1/15/2010)

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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