Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Book Review: Incarceron, By Catherine Fisher

So, about a week and a half ago or so we went to a library. I had this long list of books I wanted to read. I got to the library and searched for the books on one of the library computers. To my disbelief and vast disappointment every one of the books (except one) that I wanted either the library didn't have a copy of or they were checked out. I searched for the only book they reportedly had (which happened to be a Stephen King novel), found the Stephen King section, and to my immense displeasure, it wasn't there. Not believing my rotten luck I went in search of a book in the Young Adult section. I wasn't looking for any book in particular, just something that looked good and was preferably Fantasy. I managed to find a book called Incarceron by Catherine Fisher that looked decently interesting. So taking that book, I went back to the Stephen King section and picked out The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. I started the Stephen King novel immediately, and soon got fifty pages into it. To my displeasure, it was not captivating at all. The story was about a girl who gets lost in the woods and spends the rest of the book trying to get out. It didn't strike me as one worth reading all the way through. Chucking that book to the side, I picked up Incarceron with low hopes. Boy was I in for a surprise.

Before I go farther, here is a quick description of the book from

"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 ..."

As I got further and further into the book, I was turning the pages more and more avidly. The writing of the book was not above average. There are a wide range of characters that are pretty solid. Although their mistrust and fluctuations in temper can become a drag after awhile, they are written pretty well. The descriptions were pretty good, it wasn't as if you could picture everything clearly in your mind's eye, but you got the gist, and your imagination is there to do the rest. It was the whole idea of the book that was intriguing. It's set in a futuristic world where people attempt an experiment, they attempt to make a perfect world. They make this prison, more like a world, called Incarceron and chuck the world's criminals in there. There is no way for the prisoners to get out of the prison, or others to get in. Someone on the outside is named Warden and given the job of supervising the prison. The prison is an artificial intelligence though, and soon goes awry and takes over, leaving the Warden with no power. The "perfect world" soon turns into a hell of savagery and cruelty. Generations go by, and the prisoners begin to think there is no outside, that it's just a legend. The people on the outside still don't know that the experiment went terribly wrong, they still think it's a perfect world. The outside itself is in a sort of prison, a frozen stasis of time. Like I said before, it's a futuristic world, but it's constructed to look like a beautiful era from the past and everyone is forced to obey the strict set of rules called Protocol. Thus, they can never move forwards, they are stuck in a period of time from the past.

What intrigued me the most was the idea of attempting to make a perfect world that eventually turned into a hell. I can't place exactly where it came from, by I feel like that idea has been used before in a book or more likely a movie. The thing is, as Christians we know that a perfect world is impossible on this earth, because we destroyed that chance long ago in the Garden of Eden. Though it's still interesting to see what conclusions non-Christians come to. In Incarceron there is a quote somewhere near the end, that regrettably I did not write down so I can't copy-paste it here word for word. But it was something about how humans carry the evil within them, so that it's not possible to have a perfect world where there are people. And it struck me as being a-kind-of-true statement. Because humans are fallen, we carry sin in our bodies and we cannot hope to be pure until we are born again in Jesus Christ. Thus, no matter what we do on this earth, no matter where we go, there will always be evil following us, and we will never have a perfect world.

All in all it was a fascinating book and had many plot twists and turns that kept me reading to the end. In a book that I didn't have much hope in, I found a good story worth reading.

1 comment:

  1. Are you on goodreads? Because, if not, you maybe should be. And, if so, then we need to friend each other.