by Catherine Fisher
At some point in the future, as a result of great world trauma, an incredibly advanced system is created for containing and reforming the criminals of society. It is meant to be a paradise, as well as completely self-sustaining. This prison is called Incarceron. No one goes in, no one comes out. Incarceron is reported as a success, however the prison has a mind of its own....
Meanwhile, on the Outside, citizens are forced to live in a fabricated past century. There is no time, no advancement, just a static predictability and strict control held by the ruling parties.
Finn lives in Incarceron. Claudia lives Outside. Both are trapped in their worlds, and both will need to other's help escape. With the discoveries of a crystal key by both, Claudia and Finn find they can use the objects to communicate. As they learn more about each other and life on the other side, they soon realize things are a lot more complicated than they seem.
This book has a fascinating premise. I really like the general plot and the main characters are interesting. People who seem like "bad guys" have moments where you can understand their point of view and even sympathize with them. In turn, some "good guys" have definite flaws and even moments where you're not sure if they will turn out working as a enemy. I love that complexity of character. It makes you think, read closely, all the while trying to determine if someone should be trusted, forgiven, or forgotten.
There were a few things I didn't like about this book though. There are a couple sequences when what's going on is a little unclear. And possibly this is just because I'm trying to read so fast, but the random appearance of a flying boat just seems a little random to me. Also, despite that I usually enjoyed the unpredictability of characters, on a few occasions the unpredictability of a character made them seem incredibly untrustworthy and I wished the main characters were more cautious.
Lastly, this book does not end! I knew it was a series, and that's fine - I love a good series, but I still feel like each component of the series needs to have it's own ending, not just leave us hanging. Granted, some story lines are going to be left unfinished because it's a series, but this book had virtually no wind-down from the climax. It was just the big moment we've been waiting for, then the end. A giant "To Be Continued" - white words on a black background - is floating in my mind. Like some horrid season finale for the tv show you really like and have to wait til September to see the continuation of it.