How many different forms of imprisonment are there? How irrevocable are they? What does living in that kind of prison do?
I admire Incarceron
for trying something that felt a bit new, and I generally enjoyed the
story. I'm not sure I'd go back to reread it, though, which is my
personal line for a four-star book. But although this is a three-star
review, it's worth checking out.
Incarceron is science
fiction, even though it initially feels like fantasy, feudal society and
all. But no, it turns out that it's a very technologically advanced
society that has artificially restricted technological levels by forcing
everyone to live as though they were in the past. (How that would quite
work, maybe a bit dicey, but it's an interesting idea.) People break
this all the time though - did you really think those servants were
scrubbing clothes down by the river?
But in this highly
stratified society, which is all sorts of its own kind of prison, both
by the time period they've chosen in to live in, the highly structured
and immobile class structure (if you weren't well off when the edict
came down, I'd guess you're screwed. Peasant.) And by the extreme court
But much more literal is the prison itself, where,
hundreds of years before, every criminal, dissident, radical, and
person-who-looked-at-the-king-sideways was rounded up and put into
Incarceron, along with some scholars, with the hope of a) getting rid of
them and b) building a utopia. Why they thought it would be an utopia, a
Incarceron itself is self-aware, and seems to be
more than a little insane. Its inhabitants live nasty brutish lives,
although some seem to have scraped out some semblance of a workable
society - but we don't get to see them much. More time is spent with the
lowest of the low, the most brutal gangs on the inside. Finn has
visions, and is convinced he was born outside the prison, although that
is supposed to be impossible. (Although escaping is too, and there are
myths of the one man who managed to do so.)
On the outside, the
daughter of the Warden, Claudia, is about to be forced into a marriage
she would much rather avoid, and she schemes to stymie the whole affair.
The two start to communicate through strange devices, and the question
of what Incarceron actually is, and where it is located, start to
overshadow everything else.
This isn't bad. It isn't fantastic,
but it's trying something, and though there are bits that fell a bit
flat, I respect the attempt, and the story was engaging enough to keep