Have you ever read a book and there was an image that was either so descriptively gory or sexual that you were actually terrified to continue reading? It’s only happened to me once but I needed to make a shift in both genre and writing style. Hence this book and the review you are now reading. If it sounds like I was reluctant to read it, you would be correct.
To be fair, it wasn’t a bad book, but it had the potential to be so much better. Upon beginning Incarceron, I was instantly lost within the first few pages; I didn’t know where the main character was, who he was, or what was going on. And I wasn’t able to really figure out what was going on for the rest of the first chapter. In my opinion, setting and character development are both essentials to any story as well as a substantial plot to making for a captivating tale. The plot was intriguing and, as I told my wife, was very unique and promising. Unfortunately, I found it wanting.
Within a living prison where escape is impossible, Finn dreams of finding the Outside even though few believe there is anything other than Incarceron. But when Finn finds a key which allows him to communicate with a girl outside the prison he leaves behind what he knows to find a way into the real world. Claudia, the prison warden’s daughter, is facing a prison of her own as she is expected to marry the boorish prince of the dystopian realm. In exchange for her service, she will need Finn’s help as well if either of them are to survive.
The more I read, the better I get at guessing what’s about to happen in a book. What I found disappointing about Incarceron was that the story was written to try and keep the reader guessing until the end, except, at least to me, the plot twist was obvious from the beginning. This attempt to keep the audience guessing came off as mildly obnoxious. “Subtle” hints were continuously dropped with the intended purpose to intrigue; however, if you’re a skilled reader you’ll almost instantly see the man behind the curtain.
As I walked with the characters I struggled to get a good picture of their appearances. The two main characters had little description (I can hardly recall any), while secondary characters were described with much greater detail. Not surprisingly I was unable to connect with the characters for these reasonsAs they were facing death, deceit, and danger I felt indifferent to their hardships. This was especially disappointing because their problems were rather large and difficult, but felt incredibly insignificant.
All in all I was disappointed. The story had the potential for significant depth, political intrigue, and intimate connection with the characters. In all areas I feel it was lacking; I am positive it could have been a much better book with more work and research on the author’s part.