INCARCERON is one of those books that I think boys will really like because it deals with prisons, fights, escapes, mysteries, secret plans, backstabbing, assassination plots, and science-fiction stuff that has action scenes and is intriguing. That being said, I struggled with it because I was really confused for most of the first hundred pages or so, and it wasn't until page 200 that I had that jaw-dropping moment where I started to figure things out and wanted to know what would happen next. At that point I started to care more about what would happen to Finn and his crew that were trying to find a way out of the prison, while I was eager to see if Claudia, the Warden's daughter on the Outside, would figure out what was really going on and be able to rescue Finn from Incarceron.
They live in a society that has halted progress. The world's technology got so advanced that they created a prison that was a closed system. They would take all of the criminals and put them in there, lock the doors, and never allow anyone else in or out. Then on the outside, they follow Protocol to live as if it is two hundred years ago without the technology that they are so scared of. One thing I really liked was how the story was told - we get to see part of the story from Finn's perspective and the other part from Claudia's perspective. I'm finding I really like the books that give multiple points-of-view to tell the same story; it's especially necessary in this book where the story actually happens simultaneously in two different places. The book deals with a lot of issues of progress in society, the benefit or detriment of technology advances, and if solutions are really good or just another way of putting someone in a prison.
My feelings about INCARCERON reminded me of when I read The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I struggled through not knowing what was going on in the beginning, got further in and started to care and want to know what would happen to the characters, got close to the end when it through me for a loop with a really weird sci-fi/supernatural element, felt like I had finally started to get to the part where I was figuring things out, and then it ended - but left a huge cliff-hanging ending making me reluctantly eager to read the next book. I know that's not a glowing endorsement, but again, I think it's just not right up my alley as far as genre goes. I'm not sure if I'll read the next one, as this one's 443 pages took me quite a while to read, mostly because I wasn't dying to read the next pages enough to put aside other things. I will definitely recommend it to my boy students to give it a try.
3.5 STARS for INCARCERON
The sequel, SAPPHIQUE, comes out December 28th.