Incarceron, I knew it was about a prison and a boys efforts to escape. Still, the story was nothing like I expected. I thought it would be a classic escape story, but it's not. It is told from two points of view. One is Finn, who is trapped inside the all-knowing Incarceron, convinced that he was born free even though the prison is self-contained and so old that all the people inside were born there. Then we meet Claudia, outside of the prison and by all accounts free. Except that society has stopped time and she is trapped in a world of manners, a world that does not allow out of era technology, and most of all does not allow change.
This story sucked me in from page one. It was exciting, there was a constant threat of danger--both from physical attack within the prison and more subtle threats without--and there was a mystery to unravel. I don't want to give too much away, but my inner conspiracy theorist was delighted. I guessed pretty early on what was happening, but it didn't take away from reading. There were still quite a few things I didn't see coming (the location of the prison for one) and there is an ever lurking doubt that what appears to be the truth may not actually be so.
Not only was the story and writing great, but the characters were constantly defying my expectations. Finn is tormented and you get the feeling that he should be a stronger person than he is. You want him to be noble and brave and smart. He is, but he also makes bad decisions, questions himself, and betrays promises. Claudia is the daughter of Incarceron's Warden and betrothed to to the man who is to become King. She could easily have become a cliche heroine dreading her married life when all she wants is love. But Claudia is every bit as--if not more--cunning and powerful as her father. She is capable of controlling the soon-to-be King and well prepared for the game of power at Court. The characters surrounding Finn and Claudia all have their own lives and motivations. I was constantly left to wonder who would come through for our heroes in the end.
I read Incarceron on my Kindle. This ended up being a great decision because there were more than a few times I had to use the handy pop-up-dictionary to look up words. This was mostly period words like "livery". Even though the book is set in the future, society is rooted in the past, and the vocabulary Fisher uses adds to the feeling of being frozen in time.
My current reading plan is to get through my too-large stack of library books, then move on to the growing pile I've acquired in the last few months (first up Little Brother, Matched, The Lost Hero, Paranormalcy, and Souless). I could probably take a week off work (but I won't since the busy season is coming up and my boss would literally kill me and dance on my grave) and still not catch up with my reading list. But I am definitely going to squeeze Sapphique in soon.