Reviews for Incarceron

Booklist Reviews 2010 January #1
*Starred Review* The vast prison Incarceron, made of metal and cutting-edge technology, was designed as a grand experiment: all undesirables would be sealed inside and given everything for a model utopia. But the experiment failed as Incarceron grew self-aware and tyrannical, resources dwindled, and prisoners divided into factions. Centuries later, prisoners exist under Incarceron's watchful eyes with one belief: no one from Outside enters, no one from Inside escapes. Finn, however, believes he's from Outside, and after he finds a crystal key that opens any door, he embarks on a journey to escape. Outside Incarceron, Claudia, the warden's daughter, is also looking for escape, from an arranged marriage and from her role in a plot to end Protocol, which forces inhabitants to live according to seventeenth-century norms. When she too finds a crystal key, she comes into communication with Finn, who she believes is the true prince of the Realm. This gripping futuristic fantasy has breathless pacing, an intelligent story line, and superb detail in rendering both of the stagnating environments. Fisher's characters are emotionally resonant, flawed, determined, and plagued by metaphysical questions. With some well-timed shocking twists and a killer ending, this is a must-have. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
Finn is a Prisoner, trapped in the sentient prison Incarceron. Claudia, daughter of the Warden, has been raised to privilege in a technologically sophisticated society that has chosen to artificially re-create a simpler, seventeenth-century-esque "Era." Fisher's dystopic future, in which technology and decay coexist in a dazzling kaleidoscope of images and time periods, is brilliantly realized in this elegant, gritty, often surprising novel. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #1
Finn is a Prisoner, trapped in the sentient prison Incarceron, where he survives by being the craziest, most fearless fighter in the gang-like Comitatus. Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, has been raised to privilege in a technologically sophisticated society that has nonetheless chosen to "retreat into the past" and artificially re-create a simpler, seventeenth-century-esque "Era." When Finn gets hold of a crystal key, he, his oath -- brother Keiro, and a fanatical wise man make plans to escape from the hellish Incarceron; meanwhile, Claudia's arranged marriage to the brutal Prince of the Realm approaches, and, in order to find a way out, she and her beloved tutor Jared must uncover her ruthless father's secrets. Claudia finds a second crystal key that allows her to communicate with Finn, and the novel's two worlds begin to intersect as its twin mysteries slowly unravel. Fisher's dystopic future, in which technology and decay coexist in a dazzling kaleidoscope of images and time periods, is brilliantly realized; the intriguing sentient prison adds an element of mech/steampunk to the narrative texture. Although the pacing is deliberate, reader attention never flags through this elegant, gritty, often surprising novel. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 January #2
A far-future thriller combines riveting adventure and masterful world-building with profound undertones. Finn cannot remember anything before awakening in the vast sentient prison called Incarceron, but he is sure that he comes from outside its hellish confines. Claudia has known nothing but luxury as the daughter of Incarceron's Warden; but she dreads her imminent marriage to the caddish prince of the Realms, which are trapped in a static reenactment of a pre-technological past. In parallel narratives, each discovers a chance of escape in matching crystal keys. Their separate quests gradually intertwine with increasing suspense, cresting in a series of shocking reversals and revelations. Claudia and Finn and their assorted companions are complex and comprehensible, engaging reader sympathies even as they mislead and betray each other. Elegant prose and precisely chosen details deftly construct two very different worlds, hinting at layers beneath the glimpses the tale permits; attentive readers will hear echoes of classic tales, resonant with implications about the meaning of stories, of faith and of freedom. Like the finest chocolate, a rich confection of darkness, subtlety and depth, bittersweet and absolutely satisfying. (Science fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 December #1

Fisher (the Oracle Prophesies series) scores a resounding success in this beautifully imagined science fantasy set in a far future where, many years earlier, civilization was artificially frozen at late-medieval levels in order to save the world from dangerous technologies. Simultaneously, all of the world's malcontents and madmen were sealed into an unimaginably vast, sentient prison named Incarceron, where a dedicated group of social engineers intended to create utopia. Claudia, the brilliant daughter of the cold-blooded warden of Incarceron, has been raised from birth to marry and eventually control Caspar, the simpleminded heir to the throne. Finn, a young man without a past, is a prisoner in Incarceron, which has become a hideous dystopia, an "abyss that swallows dreams." When Claudia and Finn each gain possession of a high-tech "key" to the prison, they exchange messages, and Finn asks Claudia to help him attempt an escape. While he negotiates the hideous maze of the prison, Claudia makes her way through the equally deadly labyrinth of political intrigue. Complex and inventive, with numerous and rewarding mysteries, this tale is certain to please. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)

[Page 49]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2010 February

Gr 7 Up--Finn is a denizen of Incarceron, a sentient prison in which generations of inmates struggle and fight for survival. Finn, however, is certain he comes from somewhere else. A strange tattoo and vague memories have convinced him that he comes from Outside. Claudia is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron. Technology has been outlawed and society returned to a feudal time replete with rules, including arranged marriages. When the Queen and Claudia's father conspire to have her impending marriage to the heir moved forward, Claudia vows to do whatever it takes to avoid her fate. Finn and Claudia both acquire mysterious crystal keys that allow them to communicate, and it begins to be clear that each may be the other's way out. On the surface, Incarceron is a fast-paced if dense adventure that pits Finn against the prison and his fellow prisoners and Claudia against her father, her fianc, and her society. If that were all, it would be a truly excellent fantasy novel. By delving into the philosophy of imprisonment and the development of society; discussing how history informs the present; and exploring self-awareness and sentience in nonhuman characters, Incarceron becomes something of a tour de force. The history of both Incarceron and Era are explored through excerpts from imagined legends and archival documents at the start of each chapter. The novel's length and complex plot may be daunting to some, but fans of steampunk and epic fantasy alike will be anxiously flipping pages and awaiting the sequel, already released in the U.K.--Karen E. Brooks-Reese, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA

[Page 110]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2010 February
Claudia is the pampered daughter of a powerful father; Finn is a member of a gang of violent thieves and renegades. Claudia lives in a utopist re-creation of Victorian England; Finn dwells inside Incarceron, a prison in which entire communities survive without any memories of a life not controlled by the prison itself. Despite the disparate existence of the two teens, Claudia, the daughter of the warden of Incarceron, finds herself in communication with Finn, and both land in the midst of a web of lies including false identity, corruption of the thrown, technology that has taken on a life of its own, and a centuries-old conspiracy to cover a massive--failed--social project. As Claudia searches for a way into Incarceron, Finn searches for a way out, and both must face the consequences of their breach of the two worlds This novel will no doubt appeal to steampunk fans, a genre that is growing within the teen community. A simultaneously romanticized and fractured version of the past alongside a precarious technology-driven future is a recipe for tension and anxiety, the kind that nourishes strong dystopian science fiction. Fisher's strength is in her respect for teen readers to enter this world where nothing is as it seems only to discover that solutions are not always what they want them to be. This tome is complicated and the resolution is fraught, but in ways that make the story work.--Jennifer Miskec 3Q 4P S Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.