Plot: After the Years of Rage, King Endor decalred that everyone must live in the Era: an invented, idealized version of the pre-industrial past where nothing will ever change. Meanwhile all of the prisoners, revolutionnaries and insane were commited to the living prison Incarceron, which no one would ever leave. Centuries later, the Warden’s daughter Claudia must escape an arranged marriage with a boorish prince while uncovering the conspiracy behind his brother’s death. And Finn, a “cell born” trapped within Incarceron, dreams of reaching the Outside.
Fisher had me at the cover, honestly (which I realize she probably had very little to do with but cudos to the graphic design team). There was something mysterious and eye catching about that key. Beside which, I love steam punk. This is a slightly different approach to the genre than I’m used to: this is not a past society with futuristic technolgy but rather a futuristic society that sublimates most of its technology in favor of the trappings of a past society. I find she fudged the science a bit but it’s an exciting, fast paced story with complex characters so that is easily overlooked. I also feel she didn’t capitalize on the feeling of oppression of being constantly watched and manipulated by the prison as much as she could have. Still the concept of the living prison with all that it implies was fascinating.
This is a book about the search for freedom and identity. Freedom from the prison, from protocol and time, and from expectations and arranged marriages. It is also a book where no one is who they appear to be. I was quite pleased with myself for figuring out 2 or 3 of the twists ahead of time but there were several others that caught me completly by surprise.
I look forward to the sequel Saphique where I hope to find out more about the origins of the prison, what went wrong and about the prophetic figure of Saphique, the first man to escape the prison.
Challenges: Into the Old World Challenge (18), Futuristic/Sci-Fi Challenge (2)