Book Review: Incarceron Duology

*okay, this is my first attempt a book review, so it’ll probably be kinda rambly.  Anyway, enjoy!*

Synopsis of Officialness:
Incarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells and corridors, but metal forests, dilapidated cities, and wilderness. It has been sealed for centuries, and only one man has ever escaped. Finn has always been a prisoner here. Although he has no memory of his childhood, he is sure he came from Outside. His link to the Outside, his chance to break free, is Claudia, the warden’s daughter, herself determined to escape an arranged marriage. They are up against impossible odds, but one thing looms above all: Incarceron itself is alive.


The Incarceron Duology is comprised of, surprise, two books. Incarceron (another surprise, I know) and its sequel Sapphique.

These two books have been my latest “Big Read.” Though I finished them back in the end of August, they have stuck in my mind and I’m pretty sure they are there to stay. A friend of mine recommended them to me back in… May…? I think. And upon a trip to my most local Big Mallwith my best friend, I got my mitts on the first one and fell in love.

Incarceron takes place in two locations, a post-apocalyptic Earth after World War 4 or something, and inside a prison. But not just any prison, the Prison. Incarceron is alive, a sentient prison with a dark, twisted mind of its own. (ooohhhh, ahhhh). It is in the Prison that we meet Finn, a supposed Cell-Born (a person made by the Prison itself) and “Starseer” suffering from bouts of fainting and supposed visions; and Keiro, his Oathbrother. Outside we meet Claudia Arlex, the daughter of Incarceron’s warden, and her tutor Jared. In this post-apocalypse “Protocol” is in effect, trapping the Outside world in a continuous time of knights, kings, princes, and oppressed poor in order to supposedly keep peace and preserve what little is left of the world’s resources and power. Inside the Prison, however, is a totally different world of technology and futuristic aspects, even though the inhabitants have to fend for their lives in the different wings.

The first book started out rather slow actually. By about 1/3 of the way in I was unimpressed, believe it or not. I was like ‘Eh, it’s good, but it’s almost too middle-grade dystopian sci-fi for me.’ But then, oh but then, the Prison spoke. That was it. It piqued my interest and I got really, really excited and intrigued. Both Incarceron and Sapphique have a very eerie quality about them, even getting pretty creepy in some places. Incarceron is alive, like I’ve said, but it’s not passive. It watches its prisoners. It interacts with them like a cat interacts with a mouse. And it’s here that we can get into some of my favorite aspects of the duology. This series really, and I mean really, keeps you guessing. I am really hard to surprise. I am a princess of seeing plot twists way ahead. There were a few I predicted, of course, but it was refreshing to see some I didn’t. There were even a few that shocked me. Obviously I won’t reveal spoilers, but Incarceron is…??? I thought there was more to thing but not THAT?? And he did WHAT??? D: *incoherent fangirl noises*

Actually, the second book as a whole was better than its prequel. And anyone who likes reading knows that never happens. We dig even deeper into the world, and even into the concept of true Escape. The foreshadowing was pretty well done and I enjoyed picking it out after certain events. And the worldbuilding was really cool and I enjoyed getting to know the world and culture, both Inside and Outside the Prison. I enjoyed the characters as well. There weren’t many I didn’t like that I was supposed to. Except Attia. Out of the main cast I’d pick her as my least favourite. She was okay, but I wish we would have gotten to know more about her character than we did. I even liked Incarceron itself. Something about it… ah. So neat. XD

My favourite character was… actually. I don’t really know. It’s hard to pick. I’m tempted to say Jared. He is Claudia’s tutor, smart, curious, and quirky. I enjoyed his personality and loyalty to Finn and Claudia, even until the end. Keiro… oh man. Some cross between Thorne (The Lunar Chronicles), Keefe (Keeper of the Lost Cities) and pure snarky, defiant sass that will fight you, he’s a deeper character than you first expect. I found myself both enjoying and being annoyed with him through the series. Finn is unique, and strangely angry and pained once you get into Sapphique. He’s curious and passionate, longing for Escape. He comes across as fearless and almost crazy, but this doesn’t hold for long as you see inside his head. He’s one of the most complex characters in the series. Claudia first comes off as snobby, though playful. She too longs for freedom from her father and the Wardenry, and her arranged marriage to the current prince of the realm. We see her become desperate and loyal, though she can come off as pushy and strong-headed when it comes to Finn. She knows what she wants, so she goes and gets it. And, of course, the character of Incarceron itself. On this, however, I would like for you to form your own impression. I strangely liked its character, as Big Brother-esque as it is. It’s a truly creepy character, but intriguing nonetheless. Getting into the mind of a complex and dark character like Incarceron was more fun than it should have been. But maybe that’s just me, liking weird characters like that. 😉

At the end of it all, the duology has left me with many a theory to keep my mind busy for hours. I find myself homesick for the world in all strangeness. (Or maybe I’m just homesick for summer, as that’s when I read it. 😉 ) All in all, it took me a little over a month to read the two books, though I know I could have read them faster. I’m sure it won’t take my friend who’s going to read them (eventually) that long, but for me with all my distractions and commitments? That’s pretty good.

So yeah, if you haven’t already, and you’d like to read this duology, I’d definitely recommend it.

Here’s it’s Amazon link if you’re curious: I’d also suggest supporting your local bookstore. You know. 😉  

 Have a fabulous Friday full of fantastic fiction!

~Rainy Days and Stardust Veins


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