Booknotized

A place to think, reflect, and talk (mostly to myself) about books I love…and a few that I don't.

Series Review: Incarceron / Sapphique by Catherin Fisher November 4, 2011

Publisher: Dial
Release Date: January 26, 2010; December 28, 2010
Age Group: YA (utterly gratuitous mature language; mild graphic violence)
Pages: 448; 480
Rating: Idea 5★; Execution 2★
Genre: dystopia, sci-fi, & (some) fantasy with overtones of steampunk
 

★★1/2

Claudia lives in The Realm—a place where an Era of Victorianesque habit and aesthetic is enforced by a malevolent monarchy. She dreams only of escape from the life that has been planned for her. Her only solace is her tutor, Jared, who has been more of a father to her than her own morose parent, John Arlexa the Warden of Incarceron. At least she is Outside.

Inside, Finn lives, and has lived for the three long years of his life that he is able to remember. He, too, longs to Escape from the miserable existence within the great sentient, malevolent Prison to which he—and all others deemed undesirable or superfluous by the aristocracy—have been sentenced.

All too quickly, as age-old plots and schemes come to fruition, Finn and Claudia’s fates are thrust together. The future of both worlds, it seems, depends on their ability to unlock the secrets that lie deep within.
 

________________________________________________________________________________

 

As I tweeted the other night, I have rarely been as frustrated or disillusioned by a book or series as I was when I closed the cover on this one.

The idea is magnificent—something like The Matrix, something like The Scarlet Pimpernel, and still something like Mad Max and Blade Runner.

However, the idea’s execution in writing was deplorable, cheap, and utterly unsatisfying. You know how it was with Lost? Where the opening was fairly explosive and mysterious, but as the seasons dragged on it slowly became apparent that the writers had no long-term plan for the plot? No real ingenious answer to the mystery?

And everyone remained hopeful, despite being dragged on for eons by endlessly convenient twists, turns, and dramatic fluff, because they thought there surely would be some masterfully big reveal to tie it all together in the end?

★★1/2

Well, that was exactly my experience with these books, except without the hunky actors and special effects to tide a girl over. Full of fluff; unartful writing; and bad, see-through dialogue; impromptu/incongruous twists when the plot looked sure to dead-end; flat characters who neither were fully explained nor grew a millimeter over the course of 928 pages, and were often self-contradictory…

And, then, like the Lost finale, no questions answered. If anything, more were introduced, as if to cover the tracks of an MIA direction—yet again.
 
I am almost angry at myself for reading it. I knew at the end of Incarceron (bk. 1) that the execution was shoddy (I even tweeted my feelings), but was so curious about how the idea would come together that I convinced myself to keep going. I remained hopeful to the very end—past elements that didn’t really work in the world (the “Incarceron” beast; the “chain gang,” children born—as opposed to healed or reconstructed—with metal parts), or with the characters (Keiro’s fickleness; the Queen’s pseudo-evilness; the Warden’s loss of the key vs. the trio’s ability to keep the glove; the Prison’s simultaneous omnipotence and impotence, whichever suited the moment; etc), but were instead just convenient to the goose-chase of a plot.

I even clung on through the last few pages when things got really weird, and it seemed impossible that it could ever be satisfactorily pulled together, all the while thinking, Surely; surely no one would have published an idea this ambitious without a real, clever, mind-blowing ending.

This book has gotten lots of buzz. Taylor Lautner is starring in the movie, for goodness sake. Surely they wouldn’t…

But they did.

 
I think—if someone figures out how to salvage the plot/ending—it will be a truly wicked movie. But, as a book?

There are so many good, strong, dystopian/steampunk novels out there—The Hunger Games (bk 1), Birthmarked, Fever Crumb, etc. I would normally never do this—I am a book champion—but I suggest spending your reading time on the above and waiting to see Incarceron on screen.

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Punctuation Poll November 1, 2011

Filed under: Random Things to Say — Booknotized @ 10:59 am
Tags: , ,

 

My favorite piece of punctuation is the em dash.

 

 

The em dash is a marvelous thing—a cool pool of pause in the middle of a heated dialogue. An ounce of pensive silence in the disquiet of a teaming brain. A hiccup in the rush. It allows you to do so many things and—let’s face it—it just looks good.

 

With an em dash, you can pause—and then continue. You can also insert a list of things you want to include—ideas, thoughts, images, whatever strikes your fancy. There is the appositive—a noun or phrase that renames another noun or phrase right beside it—and there is also the aside—yes, that thing where I begin talking to you directly—to the audience. It can also be used to leave the reader hang—

 

The excellent Emily Dickinson is perhaps the most famous fan of the em dash, though her uses were anything but conventional. One might even say she “Dips—evades—teases—deploys” this thin little airborne line with effortless artistic efficacy (quote from “The Nearest Dream Recedes, Unrealized”).

 

Some people are not such fans of the em dash. In fact, I found quite an abundance of blogger hate for the thing. Granted, it can be overused—which is easy to do (as I have demonstrated above). The em dash should only be served in dollops. It’s like a rich bit of dessert—more than a bite will make you sick. But compared to the value it holds when wielded well, I find its misuse really a paltry price to pay.

 

(And, somewhere in there, I got carried away with alliteration—happens when I think about poetry!)

 

What’s yours?

 

 

 

The Drifters: Author’s Edition August 12, 2011

Filed under: Random Things to Say — Booknotized @ 11:11 am
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