Many years before the start of the story, it was decided that gathering together all of the criminals, mentally ill, and other undesirables in society and locking them up in their own separate world would solve the world’s problems. That world is Incarceron, and it is not a typical prison; it is an entire world of cells, cities, wilderness, and metal forests that is sealed off from the rest of the world. Legend says that only one man has ever escaped.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world, Outside, exists in an enforced time-warp of an idealized old-fashioned time, despite the fact that advanced technology exists.
The story alternates between two main characters. Finn, a seventeen-year old prisoner, is convinced that he once had a life Outside, despite the fact that everyone says he was born in Incarceron. He wants to escape, but some people even doubt the existence of an outside world. Then, he finds a strange crystal key that allows him to communicate with a girl named Claudia who is most definitely not in Incarceron.
Claudia is, in fact, the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, and she desperately wants to escape her arranged marriage that is quickly approaching. When she discovers the connection with Finn, she wants to help him. But neither of them understands the real nature of Incarceron and what it will take to escape.
All of us – my husband and I and our two sons, ages 12 and 15 – loved this imaginative story. It’s like nothing else we’ve ever read. Fisher has created a wholly new world that is both similar and completely different than our own, described in a riveting way that slowly unfolds as the story develops. It is a dark and violent story at times but with glimmers of hope. We really came to care for both Claudia and Finn and were rooting for them. The book came to its own satisfying conclusion, while also setting the stage for a sequel…we can’t wait!
NOTE: Book 2, Sapphique, is scheduled for release on December 28, 2010.
Listen to a sample clip here: