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A review of Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, aka why Posh continue to fear (and be thrilled by) the rise of the machines.


BOOK REPORT for Incarceron (Incarceron Book 1) by Catherine Fisher

BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: Straight Up Fantasia
Bonus Factors: War Games, Dystopia
Relationship Status: Cellmates 4 Life

The Deal:

Fasten yr seat belts, kids, cos things are about to get CRAZY UP IN HERE. Seriously, stay with me, cos it's pretty dark and there's lots of rats. EEEE.

With no clear memory of his origins, seventeen-year-old Finn has spent his entire life in the prison known as Incarceron, a wild, desolate place fraught with poverty and teeming with death. Finn survives solely based on his membership in a gang and his oath brotherhood (blood brothers, basically) with Keiro, a charming, power-hungry man with a penchant for deception. Due to the strange visions that accompany his recurring seizures, Finn is dubbed the Starseer by Gildas, a member of a clan of scholars known as the Sapienti. Gildas is haunted by the legend of Sapphique, the only man known to have ever escaped from Incarceron. When Finn suddenly comes into possession of a strange crystal key, he begins a quest, joined by Keiro and Gildas, to discover a way out of the prison and into the Outside. Living in that v. place is Claudia Arlex, who has been groomed since infancy by her father, the warden of Incarceron, to marry the prince of the kingdom and rule it as queen. Although it's equipped with incredible technology, society on the Outside faces its own prison-- laws known as Protocol, which have effectively regressed the country back to the mid 1800s (or so). As Claudia nears the date of her dreaded marriage, she begins to unravel the mysteries behind Incarceron and the royal family with the aid of her Sapient tutor, Jared. In their search for the truth, both she and Finn plunge deeper into the dark unknown, and it's only a matter of time before Incarceron reveals itself to be far more than a simple prison.

BFF Charm: Yay!

This book expertly alternates between Finn and Claudia's storylines, and I'm happy to say that I enjoyed hanging out with both of them! In spite of his prison upbringing, Finn has a heart of gold, and there were so many times when I wanted to hug him (and then offer him a shower). He's a dreamer, but he's also extremely practical, and he stands by his friends no matter what. Finn also gets scared a LOT, which is good, cos some really freaky shizz goes down and it's comforting to know that I'm not the only one about to pee my pants. Claudia, on the other hand, is a much more fierce individual, and y'all know how we feel about strong women around here. WE LOVE THEM AND WANT TO PUT A RING ON IT. Claudia takes a little more getting used to, since she's been bred to be a manipulative aristocrat, but I totes admired her steely resolve and cunning intelligence.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Much like the other dystopian/fantasy books I've recently reviewed, this is not a kissing book, and I am more than ok with that. I don't want any silly romance getting in the way of all this hardcore action!!! Seriously, the plot, not to mention Fisher's brave new world, kept my mind racing, and there was never a point when I thought, "Hey! where's my swoon?!!" with that said, I have the feeling that this rating might increase for the next book (OH YEAH IT'S A SERIES Y'ALL! JACKPOT!).

Talky Talk: Straight Up Fantasia

Catherine Fisher easily leads you through her imaginative, totally authentic world without holding yr hand. It's a lot for the reader to process, but I never found myself confused, nor was there any gimmicky, eye roll-inducing shizz. The characters and their dialogue are both extremely believable with no trace of the melodrama I sometimes encounter in the sci fi/fantasy genre. Seriously, I need to stop right here and say THANKS CATH for writing ZERO PAGES OF UNNECESSARY DESCRIPTION! It's a refreshing change to read a fantasy book that doesn't fall into the Triple T (Tolkien Tedium Trap).

Bonus Factor: War Games

I was gonna go with Terminator, aka RISE OF THE MACHINES (woot! Er, would that be beep?), but there's not really killer robots in this series (yet!). War Games is a better fit, cos, as you may recall, cutie little hacker Matthew Broderick accidentally messes with a military computer (holla at me, WOPR!) and ends up almost causing nuclear war. In other words, the computer kind of becomes a sentient being. and THAT SHIZZ SCARES ME YOU GUYS. And if you think a computer being alive sounds terrifying, IMAGINE IF THE PRISON THAT HOUSES YOU DEVELOPED A MIND OF ITS OWN!!!! That's pretty much the scariest object-turned-living-thing I can imagine, except for Chucky.

Bonus Factor: Dystopia

I know, when is dystopia NOT a bonus factor these days? But folks, I'm not tired of it (yet), at least, when it's done well. And in this novel, it's done v. v. v. well. I love how Fisher reveals the parallels between the prison and the outside; even though they appear to be extremely different, both societies are pretty much the suck. I also thoroughly enjoyed the eccentric mix of hi-tech (people can use "skin wands" to take away their wrinkles) and protocol (washing machines are scandalous!!!).

Casting Call:

So I really didn't want to cast one of our usual dudes, as much as I may adore them (I'm winking at you, Patrick Fugit!). Fortunately, I randomly just saw the trailer for Lymelife which inspired me to cast:

Rory Culkin as Finn

I know that may seem weird, but in my mind, it works. He's sensitive but not girlie, and cute without being too pretty. Plus even though I usually despise long hair, it fits with the whole prison hygiene regime (aka there is none!). I also had to go with Rory's costar in that movie, Miss Emma Roberts, who could totally pull off the regal intelligence of Claudia without being prissy about it.

Emma Roberts as Claudia

The rest of the cast came pretty easy...

Ryan Reynolds as Keiro

Any chance I get, y'all. ANY CHANCE I GET.

Ben Whishaw as Jared

As Keats in Bright Star, he fit all of the Jared qualities: sensitive, brilliant and sickly.

Gary Oldman as the Warden

Gary Oldman is the perfect choice to play a man that amazes me half the time (and scares the pants off of me the other half).

Relationship Status: Cellmates 4 Life

When this book entered the clink*, its reputation proceeded itself. Everyone kept saying, "I heard it's the next Hunger Games! OMG!" At first, I didn't want to believe it. I kept my distance during our breaks in the yard. But then one day, we finally started talking, and pretty soon I was asking the warden if we could be housed in the same cell cos I couldn't stop thinking about it. Ok um I just realized this maybe wasn't the best way to state the relationship status cos now it feels kind of pervy and like "Don't drop the soap." SIGH. Look, all I'm trying to say is that this book is hardcore, and I know it always has my back cos NO one wants to mess with it. I'll admit, I don't care quite as much for Finn and Claudia as I do for the characters in Hunger Games, but that's what prison does, man. It makes you hard! You gotta be on yr toes at every second, and Incarceron kept me that way the entire time we were together. I can't even BEGIN to tell you the crazy shizz we've been through, so I guess you just have to find out for yrself. So get this book now and DO YR TIME!!! The slammer has never been so freaking terrifying awesome.

*Please blame any and all bad prison lingo in this paragraph on the fact that i saw the Prison Mike episode of The Office yesterday at the gym.

P.S. AND YES KIDS IT ALREADY HAS AN IMDB PAGE! Look, casting agents, I've already done the work for you, so let's not reinvent the wheel, ok? Ok. In other words I BETTER SEE RYAN REYNOLDS' ABS IN THIS FILM.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).