Booklist Reviews 2010 January #1
*Starred Review* The vast prison Incarceron, made of metal and cutting-edge technology, was designed as a grand experiment: all undesirables would be sealed inside and given everything for a model utopia. But the experiment failed as Incarceron grew self-aware and tyrannical, resources dwindled, and prisoners divided into factions. Centuries later, prisoners exist under Incarceron's watchful eyes with one belief: no one from Outside enters, no one from Inside escapes. Finn, however, believes he's from Outside, and after he finds a crystal key that opens any door, he embarks on a journey to escape. Outside Incarceron, Claudia, the warden's daughter, is also looking for escape, from an arranged marriage and from her role in a plot to end Protocol, which forces inhabitants to live according to seventeenth-century norms. When she too finds a crystal key, she comes into communication with Finn, who she believes is the true prince of the Realm. This gripping futuristic fantasy has breathless pacing, an intelligent story line, and superb detail in rendering both of the stagnating environments. Fisher's characters are emotionally resonant, flawed, determined, and plagued by metaphysical questions. With some well-timed shocking twists and a killer ending, this is a must-have. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
Finn is a Prisoner, trapped in the sentient prison Incarceron. Claudia, daughter of the Warden, has been raised to privilege in a technologically sophisticated society that has chosen to artificially re-create a simpler, seventeenth-century-esque "Era." Fisher's dystopic future, in which technology and decay coexist in a dazzling kaleidoscope of images and time periods, is brilliantly realized in this elegant, gritty, often surprising novel. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #1
Finn is a Prisoner, trapped in the sentient prison Incarceron, where he survives by being the craziest, most fearless fighter in the gang-like Comitatus. Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, has been raised to privilege in a technologically sophisticated society that has nonetheless chosen to "retreat into the past" and artificially re-create a simpler, seventeenth-century-esque "Era." When Finn gets hold of a crystal key, he, his oath -- brother Keiro, and a fanatical wise man make plans to escape from the hellish Incarceron; meanwhile, Claudia's arranged marriage to the brutal Prince of the Realm approaches, and, in order to find a way out, she and her beloved tutor Jared must uncover her ruthless father's secrets. Claudia finds a second crystal key that allows her to communicate with Finn, and the novel's two worlds begin to intersect as its twin mysteries slowly unravel. Fisher's dystopic future, in which technology and decay coexist in a dazzling kaleidoscope of images and time periods, is brilliantly realized; the intriguing sentient prison adds an element of mech/steampunk to the narrative texture. Although the pacing is deliberate, reader attention never flags through this elegant, gritty, often surprising novel. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
PW Reviews 2009 December #1
Fisher (the Oracle Prophesies series) scores a resounding success in this beautifully imagined science fantasy set in a far future where, many years earlier, civilization was artificially frozen at late-medieval levels in order to save the world from dangerous technologies. Simultaneously, all of the world's malcontents and madmen were sealed into an unimaginably vast, sentient prison named Incarceron, where a dedicated group of social engineers intended to create utopia. Claudia, the brilliant daughter of the cold-blooded warden of Incarceron, has been raised from birth to marry and eventually control Caspar, the simpleminded heir to the throne. Finn, a young man without a past, is a prisoner in Incarceron, which has become a hideous dystopia, an "abyss that swallows dreams." When Claudia and Finn each gain possession of a high-tech "key" to the prison, they exchange messages, and Finn asks Claudia to help him attempt an escape. While he negotiates the hideous maze of the prison, Claudia makes her way through the equally deadly labyrinth of political intrigue. Complex and inventive, with numerous and rewarding mysteries, this tale is certain to please. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)[Page 49]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.