Incarceron by Catherine Fisher – Review

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Incarceron by Catherine FisherWhat determines the value of a human being? Is it their place of birth, or who their parents are? And what is a person's identity? Is it a birthright? Or is identity open to interpretation, by manipulation of what others believe, or by whom someone thinks he might be? Can one identity be held by more than one person?

These are some of the questions posed by Catherine Fisher's dark and mysterious duology set in a post-apocalyptic utopia and a vast sentient prison world called Incarceron.


Sometime in the future the years of Rage devastated the earth and moon and stilled the tides. Vast amounts of power are required to keep the earth functioning and there is a limited amount of power left over for the people of the Realm to use. So a plan was developed to turn back time and encourage people to need fewer resources by pretending to live in a specific bygone Era of history when there was no electricity and a simpler way of life. However, the wealthy were allowed some leeway and a few luxuries, such as washing machines, electric "candles", and "skinwands" (a personal device that can erase wrinkles and small blemishes). The weather is scheduled around the royal family's social functions. And everything is picture perfect down to the imitation cobwebs and the micro blasters that disintegrate the crumbs from a tea party.


In order to ensure this perfection, and save even more power through a clever twist, all criminals (convicted or just suspected) and their families were rounded up and sentenced to imprisonment in Incarceron, where they and every generation of their families would live for eternity. Incarceron was built as a pleasant, benevolent place with counsellors, called Sapienti, who volunteered to join the prisoners and educate them, freeing them from violence and hardship. But Incarceron has gone mad and turned against his "children", pitting them against each other and their environment in a desperate daily struggle for survival.

Claudia and Finn

Claudia is the daughter of the warden of Incarceron. She lives a privileged life in the Realm, betrothed to Caspar, the second son of the late King. Finn is a prisoner in Incarceron with no memory of his life beyond three years previously - except that he remembers once seeing the stars, now nothing more than a legend in the gloom of Incarceron. When he takes hostage a woman who recognises a tattoo on his wrist he sets in motion a series of events that connect him with Claudia and a radical plan for Escape.

Incarceron, the Movie

The film right to Incarceron have been picked up by Seed Productions, the production company co-owned by Hugh Jackman, and is scheduled for release in 2013. So far, Taylor Lautner has been cast as Finn.

Review copyright © Elsa Neal, 2010-2011. All rights reserved.


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