The only one who escaped . . . And the one who could destroy them all.
Incarceron, the living prison, has lost one of its inmates to the outside world: Finn’s escaped, only to find that Outside is not at all what he expected. Used to the technologically advanced, if violently harsh, conditions of the prison, Finn is now forced to obey the rules of Protocol, which require all people to live without technology. To Finn, Outside is just a prison of another kind, especially when Claudia, the daughter of the prison’s warden, declares Finn the lost heir to the throne. When another claimant emerges, both Finn’s and Claudia’s very lives hang on Finn convincing the Court of something that even he doesn’t fully believe.
Meanwhile, Finn’s oathbrother Keiro and his friend Attia are still trapped inside Incarceron. They are searching for a magical glove, which legend says Sapphique used to escape. To find it, they must battle the prison itself, because Incarceron wants the glove too.
First Look: ***** I love how my computer doesn't even try to spellcheck the title. I knew from the start that this would be awesome. The cover is cool, but not as much as Incarceron. *clicks little red line under Incarceron, adds to dictionary*
Setting:***** Um...Did someone call up the author and tell her my favorite settings? The best settings are: Castles with royalty and intrigue, messed up dystopias that are creepy because you could totally see our society turning into that, and steampunk worlds that are...steampunkish (Yeah, I just made up a new word. As in, gears, weird gadgets, and other stuff.). Castles? Check. Dystopia? Check. Steapmunkness? Check. What does that mean? It means that I wish I could give this setting seven stars. I love it. The idea of Protocol is fantastic, and I love how Incarceron was personified.
Characters:***** Because even the most awesome books have flaws, here is the one four-star rating. I liked Finn in the first book, but in this one he was just whiny and needed to get over his problems. I mean, he's got his "episodes", but he still could be a little less annoying. Other than that, the characters were great and well-developed. Even Incarceron, the prison itself, made a fabulous character. Jared remains my favorite, and where he ended up at the end was so fitting for him.
Plot:***** Awesome. Just awesome. I loved the added elements of the magician. The legends of Sapphique were some of my favorite parts of the first book, so of course I liked how this book ended. It was full of twists and turns and things you'd never see coming. The Pretender reminded me of my own book. The story was dark in places, and gritty all around, as a good steampunk book should be.
Cliché-ness:***** Totally unique. You can be almost completely sure that it's unlike anything you've ever read before.
Writing:***** It's weirdly poetic all the way through. The way the chapters and points of view were broken up made it even more suspenseful.
Likes: Everything? Close to it. I really like the ending. I'm not sure now if there will be a sequel, though; it would work either way.
Not-so-great: If you're not careful and you're not paying close attention, the ending will make you really confused, so watch out.
Total Score:***** Will this be on the top ten list for 2011? I think so. Read it, but read Incarceron first! It'll appeal to fantasy fans, dystopia fans, steampunk fans, and probably others. So many reviews use the phrase I couldn't put it down, but...it's really true with this book. There's a lot of action and emotion. How many times can spellcheck yell at me during a single review?