Incarceron by Catherine Fisher Book Review

Monday, July 23, 2012 2:23 PM
Title: Incarceron
Author: Catherine Fisher
Published: May 3, 2007
Publisher: Dial
Series: Incarceron #1
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction, Dystopian
Pages: 442
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

“Only the man who has known freedom can define his prison.” 
― Catherine Fisher, Incarceron

Incarceron -- a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology -- a living building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character, and a typical medieval torture chamber -- chains, great halls, dungeons. 

A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison -- a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. 

But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device -- a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn's escape is born...(Goodreads)

My Thoughts
Incarceron has received mixed reviews. From what I can tell, people either hate it or love it. In the beginning, I was unsure as well. While the premise was astounding in its originality, there was just so much to take in, so many things I was confused about. The plot was very complex and I felt like it was messing with my mind. The pace was also slow at first, and I found it difficult to keep interest. 

But I am happy I kept reading because Incarceron had some wonderful, unpredictable twists, and the storyline really came together for me. The story was like nothing I had ever read before. It was refreshing to read something that didn't remind me of any other book. To think of a prison that is a whole world and alive. The limits of this prison seem to be never ending, and it is filled with all sorts of wonders like metal forests and towers in the sky. 

And the idea that the Outside completely froze itself in time appealed to me. While half the population was stuck in Incarceron as an experiment, trying to create a Paradise for the demented, the criminal, and those who were considered useless, the rest of society had to follow Protocol and stay in Era. They were no longer allowed to invent or create. They had to live in a Victorian era in order to stop the movement of time and hopefully eliminate war and deadly progress. I loved the beauty of the landscape and how Fisher described each scene vividly, focusing on the flowers and the scenery. 

The characters in Incarceron were also intriguing. While I may not love every character, I wasn't supposed to. They were compelling and I wanted to hear more about their stories and histories. I found their unexpected loyalty and strength appealing, and I loved how the Outside and the Inside both had such deadly stakes when it came to forming relationships and maintaining connections. Even though Claudia was spoiled and haughty, I admired her greatly. And Finn had his weaknesses, but he had a kind heart and a need to move forward. 

The storyline is a little complex, and I'm still not entirely sure who the Sapienti are. I hope I get a clearer idea in the next book, Sapphique. And there are still a lot of unanswered questions I have. But overall, give Incarceron a chance and keep reading even if you get frustrated. It's like nothing you read before, and it has a remarkable story. 

Happy reading,



  1. I found this book very formulaic. It had a great atmosphere and great visuals, but the pace was very tradition and followed the heroes journey a tad too closely. I'm hoping the next one will deviate more. Great review!

    1. I'm sorry to hear that Becky! I'm also hoping the sequel will be better and I can't wait to read it! Thanks so much! :)


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