Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Endless Prison


Written by: Catherine Fisher

Released: May 3, 2007 by Hodder Children’s Books (in the United Kingdom), January 26, 2010 by Dial Books (in North America)

Summary: Imagine a living prison so vast that it contains corridors and forests, cities and seas. Imagine a prisoner with no memory, who is sure he came from Outside, even though the prison has been sealed for centuries and only one man, half real, half legend, has ever escaped.
Imagine a girl in a manor house in a society where time has been forbidden, where everyone is held in a seventeenth century world run by computers, doomed to an arranged marriage that appals her, tangled in an assassination plot she both dreads and desires.
One inside, one outside
But both imprisoned.
Imagine a war that has hollowed the moon, seven skullrings that contain souls, a flying ship and a wall at the world's end.
Imagine the unimaginable.
Imagine Incarceron.

This was one of those books that I’m not sure whether or not I liked. I know that that sounds strange, but I just don’t know what to think of it. While I enjoy a good utopian vs. dystopian, steam-punkish book, this one was so complex that at times I wasn’t sure exactly what I was reading.

For starters, it took me forever to get into it; over half-way through the book and I finally couldn’t put it down. Before that, I would read a chapter or two and then be bored and turn to something else for a while. However, the action really picked up about half-way through the fourth part (of five parts) of the book and I just had to know how things finished. The ending was rather disappointing, though surprising, and it set up nicely for the second book Sapphique, which sadly isn’t due out in North America until the end of the year.

I have to admit that the book was intriguing, though. Premise-wise, it’s incredibly original and unique; an entire prison that’s like an entire world where only one person knows where it truly is and what it’s about; everything else is just speculation and even that that’s sometimes not enough. Parts of the book make you question everything that you’ve previously read – like, is the prison really a prison, is where Claudia lives a part of the prison or really the real world? Then there are all those twists which are thrown in sporadically throughout just as you think you’ve gotten everything figured out. It’s nice when you can’t fully anticipate where things are headed and this book has so many little details that make a big impact after you’ve forgotten about them, it’s insane.

With the characters, I wasn’t fully taken with them but they were beautifully written. Finn was an interesting one since you have no idea what’s going on there and the mystery is infuriating and not fully sated at the end of this book. Claudia was rather annoying, though likeable and relatable. It was nice to see her as a strong female protagonist too. Jared the Sapient confused me in the way that I couldn’t place his age or get into the psyche of the character and the ending especially left me questioning about him. The rest of the characters were unique in their own ways and were forever astounding you as you read along. Like the plot, you never fully have them figured out.

For being so hard to get into, though then being infuriatingly mysterious, I’m giving this book a 5.5/10 heading towards a 6/10. I think that the last third of the book really saved it and I want to read the next book to see how the loose ends are tied up.

Summary taken from Catherine Fisher’s official website.

On a side note; isn't the cover absolutely gorgeous?

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