Incarceron is the ultimate prison: no way in, no way out. It was designed long ago to prove that even the dregs of humanity could create a paradise if properly managed, but the AI that manages the prison became sentient and turned it into a hell. Finn was born full-grown in Incarceron and remembers nothing else.
Claudia is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron. As the only person who can enter the prison, he’s one of the most powerful men in their world, and a key player in the Victorian-style intrigue that swirls around him. Claudia and her tutor Jared are intrigue experts in their own right, and rebellion brews when they find a device that allows them to communicate with Finn.
I was absolutely sucked in to this dark, bleak world. Claudia, in particular, is a great character: scheming, practical, and with enough cold intelligence to match her father. She’s not the typical wide-eyed YA heroine thrown into adventure unprepared.
Incarceron is a textbook dystopia (without being particularly post-apocalyptic): everyone outside still thinks that Incarceron is the paradise it was intended to be. And Claudia’s world demands that everyone live “in Era,” following a strict Victorian code to prevent the destructive influence of technological advancement… but of course this comes with death from curable diseases and a backstabbing monarchy.
Though if everyone really believes that Incarceron is a paradise, why aren’t more people trying to get inside? And living “in Era” is a cool idea, but why is it so sketchily applied? Sometimes it’s taken seriously (Jared’s lack of medicine for his illness), but sometimes it’s just a facade (all the fancy technology in the Warden’s house).
In short, there are some enormous plot holes, but it doesn’t matter — the atmosphere is deliciously creepy, the story is original, and I can’t wait for the sequel.
(Can we talk about the cover, though? Please stop with the holographic covers. The shiny shiny rainbows just make everything look chintzy. If it weren’t for Paula at Pink Me, I wouldn’t have picked this up because the cover made it look like an Alex Rider book or some other bit of generic adventure fluff.)