Review: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Title: Incarceron

Author: Catherine Fisher

Rating: 1/5

Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk


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 …

I had such high hopes for this book. I really did. But honestly, it was a train wreck.

That plot was predictable to an absurd level. I am a very thick-headed person; when I say your plot is predictable, it’s bad. I actually thought for awhile that Fisher was being amazingly transparent so that she could later subvert my expectations, but I was wrong. Fisher might as well have printed a list of the “twists” at the front of the book for the reader to reference. On the few occasions I was surprised, the characters were so boring, bland, and archetypal that I didn’t care. In fact, there was only one character in the entire book that I actually liked, and he was a side character!

The story’s idea is pretty decent, though. I really liked the idea of the prison, and the prison itself reminded me a lot of AM from I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. However, it was not nearly as good.

To be frank, there were no parts of this book that I looked forward to. The plot was bland. The characters were bland. Any originality or creativity in the world-building was unfortunately overshadowed by how poorly crafted everything else was. This book had so much potential and I had such high hopes, and I think I can honestly say I’ve never been so sorely disappointed in a book.

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