For months, @akoneill had been telling me to read Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. I'll admit it - I was a little scared that it would be very dark and sometimes I need to be in the right mood to read books like that. Well, I finally gave in and read both Incarceron and Sapphique, and while there was the fearsome Dark, there was also an amazing story complete with mystery, politics, murder, magic, and then some. Oh, and also some hope and redemption to lighten the Dark a bit.
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 ...
When I first started Incarceron, I was worried that I would have a hard time settling into it because it was filled with strange words and concepts. This being a dystopian novel, I should have expected that, but it always throws me at the beginning. I'm telling you all of this in case you're the same way. Because it is well worth it to stick with it, as it all starts to become understandable very quickly. And, the world-building is so well done! I loved the contrast between inside Incarceron and the Outside, or the Realm. I especially loved how the lines between the two begin to meld towards the end of this two-book series.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself, and I certainly don't want to give anything away. I will say that these books are the kind that will Make You Think, which are my favorite. (I think that is why I love dystopian fiction so much.) The characters are all wonderful in their own way, even the ones you think you hate. I especially enjoyed Keiro, even though he is an ass, or perhaps because of it. And I was really happy with the ending, but you know I won't say any more about that.
So, if you're in the mood for books that will challenge you and make you think while sucking you into a really well-told story, definitely read Incarceron and Sapphique. I'm happy that I finally did. And, if you've read them, I'd love to hear your thoughts!