Monday, October 17, 2011

Book Clubbing: *Incarceron* by Catherine Fisher with Bronwyn!

Mandy and her fellow blogger and friend Kiirstin have had a lot of fun "Book Clubbing" on this blog. No, I don't mean violently attacking books with blunt objects (I can already imagine a librarian-led protest rally in response to this), but rather chatting, book-club style, about books they love.

My coworker and friend Bronwyn and I decided to do the latter with the book Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. Bronwyn's read both of the books in the series, Incarceron and Sapphique, so she's supplied me with a little teaser for each:


In a world thousands of years from now, where everyone lives as though it was still the 17th century, there exists an elaborate prison. Incarceron is so vast that it contains more than cells: metal forests, forgotten cities, vast wilderness, and fog-filled never-ending ravines. Instead of stars at night, the prisoners are followed by glowing red dots, the eyes of the prison that follow their every move. Seventeen-year-old Finn has no memory but believes that he was born outside of Incarceron. He finds a crystal key which allows him to communicate with Claudia. She not only lives outside, she is also the daughter of Incarceron's warden. Finn is determined to escape the prison, and Claudia believes she can help him. But they don't realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost more than they know.


Without giving too much away, Finn and Claudia are outside together. Finn has discovered that this other world is not what he had hoped for. He must obey rules of protocol and etiquette. His friends are still stuck in Incarceron and he feels that he has abandoned them. They are searching for a magical glove, rumoured to give them the power to escape and join Finn. As the prison prepares to battle, so to does the Outside. The dynamic ending to this book will take your breath away!


Bronwyn: Hi Erica!

Erica: Hi Bronwyn!

Bronwyn: How are you doing? Did you get a chance to finish Incarceron?

Erica: Yes. Andrew and I were travelling home from Hamilton yesterday night

and I read a couple of chapters by flashlight. Don't worry, I wasn't the one driving! But,

point being, this book is THAT suspenseful. I couldn't wait to get home to read it.

Bronwyn: I felt the same way. I couldn't wait to finish the book and then I couldn't

wait to read the sequel, Sapphique!

Erica: You recommended that I read this book. What attracted you in the first

place? Why did you pick if off the shelf?

Bronwyn: Well first of all the beautiful cover of that key drew me in. I know as

booksellers we aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I do it all the time.

Then I was really drawn in by this unique idea that Catherine Fisher created in her

book, about a kingdom 3000 years in the future that dresses and acts like they

are living in Versailles and has a prison that is a whole other world that is really an

experiment gone wrong.

Bronwyn: I was also fascinated by the amazing array of gadgets that they use

in the kingdom, things like skin wands to not look old.

Erica: I know! The cover totally drew me in too! You know how much I love anything

steampunk. I opened the front cover and there are a whack of awesome quotes:

"...a steampunk tour de force; ...a gripping futuristic fantasy", etc. So the beautiful

cover and the reviews inside really sold me on this book. The setting (3000 years in

the future, but living as if they are in the 17th century) is very steampunk,

and I found this idea fascinating. The idea that the world is controlled by imposing the

ideals of a former era is brilliant.

Erica: And gadgets! The skin wands reminded me of the the work that Cinna

the stylist did on Katniss in The Hunger Games.

Bronwyn: I also found the main characters -- Finn in the jail and Claudia on "earth" –

very well rounded. I found myself cheering for them and also sometimes a little scared

of them or disappointed in the decisions that they made. I like when an author does that,

when their characters are not superheroes or perfect wonder-beings.

Erica: Yeah, I agree. These characters are well constructed. I liked that Fisher uses the

trope of the princess that is betrothed to an odious prince, and yet Claudia is not the

standard damsel in distress.

Erica: I was also really impressed with the way that Fisher developed the Prison as a

CHARACTER in the novel. The idea of a sentient prison reminded me a bit of the computer

(HAL 9000) in the movie 2001. I think it`s such a scary premise: a prison that is all seeing,

all-knowing and that is responsible for the life and death of its inmates.

Bronwyn: Certainly, Claudia is a woman who knows her own mind and is determined to

get her way. I think she was very empowered, especially because she had been mostly raised

by this master tutor who gave her education, ethics, but mostly taught her how to think

and question the world around her. I have not seen 2001, but I am familiar with the premise.

Sometimes I wonder about that, here we are surrounded by gadgets that we depend on.

Are they all-seeing? Anyways that's a bit too Big Brother. But the books are really built on

that Big Brother premise. And even though in Claudia's world they claim that they are "free",

in fact they are not, there are silent eyes and ears listening to the citizens at all times.

In Incarceron it's obvious when these red eyes are following you wherever you go.

Erica: True. Both Claudia and Finn are each imprisoned in their own way. You could even

argue that Finn's imprisonment is less sinister, because it's right out there. Everyone KNOWS

that Big Brother is watching, so to speak. So I`ve been poking around online and I noticed

that the rights to this book have been optioned and a movie is due out in 2013.

Taylor Lautner and Emma Watson are set to star as Finn and Claudia. What do you think

of this?

Bronwyn: OOOOO that sounds amazing! As I was reading both books I was trying to

figure out how it could be made into a movie because both worlds are so complex, especially

the prison. Incarceron just felt it had all of these layers of worlds contained within it. The

metallic forest that Finn and his group walk through to try and escape the prison, really was

so beautiful, I pictured an enchanted world and then all of a sudden the prison lights go on

and you remember that this is really a jail. A strange (and dare I say wondrous) jail?

Erica: I think that they'll definitely make beautiful movies. The setting is so visually rich

and detailed. The cinematographer's going to have a party. OK. So if the Twilight franchise

has Team Jacob and Team Edward, I propose that there will be a Team Finn vs. Team Jared.

Am I alone in having a bit of a crush on Jared? Tall, dark, handsome Sapient/tutor that

he is?

Bronwyn: I think I would probably be on Team Finn... He definitely seems a "rebel with a

cause". But I can see how Jared is a beguiling character. The second book in the series,

at the very end Jared surprises me, and seems to have a very large character shift.

Bronwyn: Are you planning on reading the second book?

Erica: Definitely. I'm hoping maybe my Jared/Claudia fantasy will be realized in

Sapphique? Haa, just kidding. Too pedagogically inappropriate. No spoilers please.

I just Googled Jared/Incareron/fanfic and the author R.J. Anderson has a series of

fanfiction based on Incarceron.

Bronwyn: Interesting. I am not familiar with fanfiction. What is that?

Erica: It's when fans of a novel or a particular character in a novel take that character

and create their own story and publish it online.It's kind of an outlet for fans to expand

on a story or take characters in a different direction. It’s like a DIY way to make your

favourite stories last longer!

Erica: Here's the link for the R. J. Anderson fanfiction:

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