Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Incarceron (and Sapphique) by Catherine Fisher

Already published in the UK (and recipient of the Times Children's Book of the year) Incarceron is an awesome YA novel I'm very excited to hand off to fans of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Though Incarceron is not as readily accessible as Hunger Games (and therefor less likely to appeal to the precocious readers who read UP for Hunger Games), it does have the same undeniable (and addictive!) sense of forward prepulsion. Like Hunger Games, Incarceron is a page turner, with enough violence to appeal even to the blood thirstiest young readers. However, thematically, Incarceron stands very much apart. Set (half) in an enormous, sentient prison, the characters in Incarceron are very much aware that they are under constant surveilance. Even in the parts which take place outside the prison, the characters bear the same burden. Imagine Foucault wrote a speculative sci-fi fantasy novel. For kids. Kids who took to the sight and surveilance themes of Little Brother by Cory Doctorow may also enjoy this novel, if they are willing to go into an alternate universe. Add these themes into a world of a constantly shifting and unstable reality, along with enough serpentine plot twists to make you dizzy, and you have the world of Incarceron.
I liked this book so much that, despite never using Amazon in the US, I hopped on Amazon UK to order the sequel,
Sapphique, which is not out in the states yet. And it was TOTALLY worth my lapse of moral consumerism! It is a worthy follow-up indeed, and it does exactly what a second book in a trilogy should, which is to expand the world we've already encountered and to complicate the problems and relationships of the characters. Fisher uses varying points of view for maximum tension, even that does occasionally mean switching POV as a way of punctuating exciting moments. I am wary of saying too much about this sequel, since I enjoyed it so much because it was so suprising, and I would hate to ruin that experience for anyone else. Suffice to say, it was a pleasure to read, and I anxiously await the third book, which is due out in May (in the UK).

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