Thursday, November 11, 2010

Two Stories For The Price Of One

I loved Corbenic by Catherine Fisher when I read it four years ago, I believe for the Cybils. I wasn't quite so taken by Incarceron, though I did get to a class a little late so I could finish it.

Corbenic had a real world, contemporary setting with a possible fantasy/possible madness element. I do prefer my fantasy with a real world connection. Incarceron also has a dual world thing going on, though the "real" world is a fantasy world and the second one is definitely real but in a fantasy way, if you follow that.

The real world involves another post apocalyptic dystopia. In this one, a king from the past made the decision that this world would give up its technologically advanced present to live in a romanticized past because that would make everyone happier. So while these people had all kinds of technology, they had to live in a kind of late eighteenth/early nineteenth century world, right down to the point of living with antiquated health care. Some of this fake world they lived in was created with their technology.

Incarceron, in the meantime, is a prison that is some kind of living system. It was created as a humane way of dealing with criminals. It is a closed world, no one gets out or in (presumably), and the living system has become nasty and destructive.

So what we've got here are two very traditional YA fantasy schemes. We've got a dystopian story and a Frankenstein tale of mankind messing with a lifeform and that never ends well. Each tale has its own protagonist. They've never met, but they are still connected. And each protagonist has identity issues. Who are these people?

I think the familiarity of these stories disappointed me a bit because I found Corbenic so unique. However, Fisher is a marvelous writer so familiar or not, Incarceron is still a fine book.

Incarceron is the first in a series, and while the story's finale is a little open-ended, there is better closure than you often get in series books. The second book, Sapphique, will be published in this country next month.

The Plot Project: Incarceron's plot could definitely have been created with the give a character something to want and then put up roadblocks to getting it scheme. However, this book illustrates the risk authors take if they use that method. Finn wants to get out of Incarceron, and he's on a sort of journey/quest to do so. One thing after another stops him. It's a little harder to tell what Claudia wants. To avoid marrying Caspar? To tick off her father? At any rate, they both, particularly Finn, just keep running up against one obstacle after another. Personally, I think that can get a little frustrating for a reader.

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