by Catherine Fisher

Part futuristic dystopia, part-cyberpunk, and part court intrigue, this rich, atmospheric... read more

Part futuristic dystopia, part-cyberpunk, and part court intrigue, this rich, atmospheric novel follows two main narrative lines with completely distinct settings. In one, a teenage boy named Finn is trapped in a vast techno-prison called Incarceron, where prisoners inhabit bleak landscapes, form alliances, and fight for their own survival. They can never escape, but Finn is determined to try, driven by fleeting memories of an earlier time when he was free. Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Claudia, daughter of the prison Warden, lives a privileged life Outside, in a technologically advanced society that models itself after Elizabethan society in order to maintain the comforts of the ruling class. She is about to marry the spoiled, immature Prince Caspar, although his older stepbrother Giles, who died years before, was originally her betrothed. Knowing she is no more than a pawn in the power struggle between her father and the queen, and desperate to escape her fate, Claudia discovers a crystal key that gives her a window into Finn’s life in Incarceron—because he possesses its mate. Two equally gripping parallel plots go back and forth and eventually intertwine as Claudia and Finn turn to each other as they try to escape their respective prisons. Well-developed secondary characters and tantalizing subplots add depth to the underlying intrigue that will continue in Book 2. (Age 12 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

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