Thursday, May 27, 2010

Three Viewpoint Thursday: INCARCERON

About once a month, Renee, Vilate and I gather together to chat about a book. The following transcript is on our most recent book chat of INCARCERON by Catherine Fisher.

WARNING: I do say read with caution because the transcript does contain a significant number of SPOILERS.

Aly: So Let's start with the basic question...What was everyone's initial feeling about INCARCERON. Easy to read? Confusing? Liked it? Hated it?

Renee: I really enjoyed it. Like very much! At first, I was a little confused because we were thrown into the world of INCARCERON, with words like "Comitatus" and "Protocol" (whereas other books like HARRY POTTER usually introduce you to the new world slowly), but you catch on very quickly to how things work both Inside and Outside, and it was really engaging.

Vi: I found it very interesting, and I liked it, although I'm still not entirely sure I can pin down my exact feelings. It's this odd mixture of anachronism and dystopia, so it's like I've been trying to get those two things to line up properly or something, lol. It did keep me engaged the whole time, though.

Aly: I loved it from the beginning but I have to agree with Renee, it did require a little getting used to the world of INCARCERON. I knew it was technically a dystopian novel, but I kept getting a feeling of high fantasy in some ways maybe because of the style in which the people were forced to live. I was very engaged with the book and even when I wasn't reading it I would think about it or want to be reading it which is always a good sign.

Renee: I couldn't really identify a distinct genre. I knew for FACT it was dystopian, but at the beginning it seemed science fiction/steampunk-ish, with the heavy reference to the technologies and science used in the INCARCERON world, but there were moments, such as when some characters encounter the "Beast" where it felt fantastical, so I didn't really know what genre it was. I didn't mind either way, but just an observation.

Vi: That's interesting, Renee. I wouldn't have marked it as Steampunk, but I can definitely see the characteristics that would put it in that category.
Aly: I almost thought Steampunk at one time but there was something about the journey and then the Beast that also made me think of the fantastical. And I kept having this Sci-fi feel. Oh well, but it was good.

Oh what did people think of the premise of INCARCERON - creating the prison as a "utopian" and how it evolved and then what was revealed as the book went on?

Renee: I liked the idea of paradise or heaven becoming like a hell, although I never quite understood why the government/royalty/etc. would create a "utopia" for the prisoners. I had an easier time getting into Claudia's plight of living in frozen Time (no progress means no decay) as a kind of false utopia, but I never understood why they would pretend or try to make a utopia for the prisoners?!

Vi: I found the idea of utopia-turned-dystopia an interesting commentary. I can see how the "founders" would think it's a good idea - they get rid of their problems, but making it a utopia would make them feel less guilty about locking all those people away forever. The fact that it didn't turn out the way they hoped shows that you can't control something like that, which is a theme that I enjoy very much.

Aly: I was thinking the same as Vi, but also I almost felt that it was a little bit of an experiment that was being watched - and if you are going to experiment then of course you would start with people who are "undesireable".

I also think that it was interesting to have the two worlds to look at concurrently. In some ways, both worlds were dying without new ideas/creativity/material to feed off of. Both INCARCERON and the outside world were a little bit of the same.
Renee: That was one aspect I really liked -- the juxtaposition of Inside and Outside. Because while Inside is obviously a prison atmosphere, there are people like Finn and Gildas who have hope to keep them going, so to speak. Whereas Outside is almost more crippling because without the new ideas, creativity, etc. life kind of stagnates, and there is a sense of entrapment when things aren't moving forward. I really liked seeing how similar the prison and the "real world" were.

Vi: I liked that aspect, as well. And I liked that you could see elements of both the good and bad sides of human nature in each "world". Again, it adds to the idea that you can't control things like that with outside forces.

Aly: Let's talk characters Finn, Claudia - Gildas, Jared, and the others. Though I actually liked (or disliked depending on who we are talking about) all of the characters - I didn't actually *bond* with them the way I do sometime. I felt they were a good mix but...something was missing. Finn seemed a little too *nice* and Claudia was almost *cold* to a fault. Anyway, what did everyone else think of them?

Vi: I think I'd have to agree that I didn't really get attached to any of them. That might be why I've had a hard time deciding how much I liked the book overall. I enjoyed certain elements of each of them, especially Finn and Claudia, though I think I probably "liked" Jared the most. I think Claudia was trying too hard to get herself out of her situation and Finn was sort of letting everyone else lead him along. I'm not sure how that relationship will work out in the sequel, but it did seem a little... out of synch.

Renee: See, I actually really bonded with Claudia. There were moments where she became almost desperate in her plans to get out of her situation, but I really liked seeing a mobile female character who was proactive and carried out her plans with the help of a friend that lacked the romantic tension I'm used to seeing in most male/female friendships in YA literature. Many of the characters did lack a little oomph, like Finn, but I was very intrigued by Keiro. I didn't like Keiro, but I liked the intrigue of whether he was trustworthy or not. I kept reading to see if he would betray them (kind of a Prof. Snape thing) which made him interesting, if not likable.

Aly: I liked Jared a lot and felt that there was more to him than meets the eye. Also I liked Attia and wanted more of her story in some ways. I felt that she was the only one really looking out for Finn. The others just seemed to want him for what he could do. The struggle I had with Claudia is that she seemed to just be so dang *plow into things* in her style. Very little thinking about the others in some ways. I liked that she was strong and very bright and capable but would have liked her to be a little more *human*. But overall, I liked the sense of ensemble that the book had rather than such a strong focus on two characters and I liked the alternating perspectives.

Renee: Agreed. I liked that each of the side characters had a little history, although I would have liked more of Jared, Attia, and Gildas, too.

Vi: I can't say that I'd like to see more Gildas, lol. He's probably my least favorite character. But definitely more Jared.

Aly: Hmmm...Were there parts that you really, really liked or parts that you felt could have been eliminated? Or did the overall flow work for everyone. I didn't have a sense that things slowed down too much but a few times I felt that what happened to everyone was a little predictable.

Vi: I don't recall any particular point where I felt anything slow down. And nothing sticks out to me as a favorite part, either. The excitement picks up a lot when they finally meet Incarceron, but even up until that part, the action is pretty steady. I did feel like after a while there were some bits that were predictable, but I feel that way about most books I read.

Renee: Nothing was really slow for me either, but I felt that the connected the dots between Finn's brief memories of his past and Claudia's story took a beat too long. After like the second memory, I had reached the conclusion that Claudia reached about 100 pages later after she had communicated with him. But overall, the pace was steadily engaging, and I agree that meeting Incarceron was a bit exciting for me too -- I didn't see that coming.

Aly: Funny there were parts with Incarceron (meeting the beast/prison itself) that reminded me of Lord of the Rings. Yah, yah, I'm weird. Well before this gets too long, any last thoughts? Are you eager for the sequel? Would you recommend it?

Vi: Recommend it - yes. I think this one would engage a wide audience, and I think it'd make a good read-aloud book as well. And I am looking forward to the sequel. I'd love to see things put right and progress restored, definitely. I'm invested enough in the story that I want at least a fairly happy ending.

Renee: I would also highly recommend it, because it has elements that would satisfy various audiences, engaging plot, and it's different from the paranormal/supernatural series dominating the YA genre these days. Sequel? Oh yes! I am very eager to see how it all resolves.

Aly: I wanted to read the sequel so bad that I actually tried to see if BookDepository had it available now and it is currently out. I saw an ARC of it with a friend and need to see if I can swipe it from her after she is finished with it. LOL!

I am so glad everyone enjoyed it. Thanks for chatting!!!


  1. Posting a comment just so I can subscribe to comments.

  2. I liked this book alot, but some of the head hopping was a little unnerving for me.

  3. I really liked Incarceron and enjoyed reading through your discussion. I agree with so many of your comments. I found Jared and Claudia to be the two most compelling characters in the story and really wanted to connect with Finn more but sometimes I felt that his 'chosen one' status made his character slightly less compelling to me. Gildas and Attia were not among my favorite characters in Incarceron, but I did find Finn's relationship with Keiro intriguing. I am very curious to see how Finn will deal with the challenges he'll face in Sapphique. I shared my review of Incarceron here.

  4. Lisa & Violet - Thanks for reading and commenting. And Violet - I too wonder how Finn is going to deal with everything in the Outside world.