My friend Steph recently sent me a box full of books to read (a great little swap we've arranged between the two of us), and in it was Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. I devoured that one pretty quickly so she brought me the sequel the next time she saw me - Sapphique.
If you know my reading preferences at all, you won't be remotely surprised that I was instantly intrigued by the premise of Incarceron - it's a Young Adult novel set in a dystopian future. In other words, it's right up my alley!
With Incarceron, Catherine Fisher grabs you right from the start and sucks you into her story and her characters. Immediately you meet Finn, a prisoner; eventually the story unfolds to reveal what's going on in Finn's world and Outside the prison.
Essentially, Incarceron is set in a fictional future where we have destroyed our planet with war. As a solution to this a king has created a system where everyone lives in a sort of historical re-enactment. Trapped by the protocol of the past the people are left without sufficient technology and freedom, therefore they aren't able to destroy the earth or each other again.
Oh, and as an added bonus, they stuck all the criminals in a living, breathing prison known as Incarceron. Built to be a Utopia where all the undesirables of society can start over and rebuild their lives, Incarceron is instead a Hell for its inhabitants. It is full of mysteries and monsters and humans with darkness inside their hearts. Finn is trapped in this world, but somehow he senses it isn't where he belongs.
Anyway, eventually Finn contacts Claudia, a girl who lives Outside as the daughter of Incarceron's Warden. Together they form a plan to free Finn from Incarceron and overthrow the dictatorial leadership of the Realm where Claudia lives. But, of course, they also unleash an awful lot of chaos and danger.
Sapphique finishes the story, revealing what happens to Finn and Claudia as they find themselves holding onto way more than they can handle in terms of plot twists. In Sapphique we learn more about the history of Incarceron and the Realm and the people who made it what it is. We also learn that nothing is as it seems, Inside or Out.
I'd give this series 3 out of 4 stars. It was very compelling in the first novel, slightly less so in the second but it still kept me turning pages, wanting to know what would happen in the end. I will say, too, that I never would have predicted how it turned out, and that's always a good thing!