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Reader’s Den, Stuff for the Teen Age

Reader's Den: "Incarceron" Discussion Questions


I hope all of you enjoyed Incarceron by Catherine Fisher this month as much as I did.

Feel free to share your favorite moments, characters, or whatever below.

Here are some discussion questions to sink your teeth into:

  • What did you think of the ending? Did you anticipate the prison's location or was it a total surprise?
  • Finn, Keiro, Claudia and even Attia are not always morally upright. How did you feel about reading about a book where the main characters are criminals, liars and even convicts?
  • While Finn and his friends are trapped inside Incarceron, Claudia is trapped in Era living life as though it were the 18th Century under the stringent rules of Protocol. If you had to choose where would rather be, in the prison of in Era?While Finn and his friends are trapped inside Incarceron, Claudia is trapped in Era living life as though it were the 18th Century under the stringent rules of Protocol. If you had to choose where would rather be, in the prison of in Era?
  • Fisher prefaces every chapter with some kind of epigram from Finn or Claudia’s world (decrees from the king, legends of Sapphique, etc.). What did you think of these snippets? How did they add (or not add) to the story?
  • Jared is Claudia’s friend, tutor and sometimes confidante. He is key in unlocking the secrets of Incarceron. What did you think of him as a character? How does Jared compare to Claudia’s father, the Warden? Bonus Question: What did you think of Jared and the Warden’s respective relationships with Claudia?



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Actually, I think the Era

Actually, I think the Era might have imitated an even earlier Era; it mentions the use of the viola, which Claudia muses might be an anachronism because they haven't been invented yet. This indicates that it could have "taken place" in the 1500s. I really loved Jared and Claudia's relationship. Theirs is clearly the only one based on actual love. All other characters distrust each other and play games. Even Finn and Keiro were suspicious of each other at times. However, Jared and Claudia feel very passionately about each other. Claudia even threatened to kill both Caspar and the Queen to their faces were they to hurt Jared. I think that given time, their relationship could grow to be romantic.

As to the location of Incarceron...

I think I saw the location of Incarceron itself coming for a long time. I noticed that Fisher put an awful lot of emphasis on the Warden and particularly on the strange metal cube hanging at the end of the chain around his neck. Instantly - since I had been wondering this since the beginning of the book - I figured that Incarceron was contained within the cube. Or, more aptly, that the cube had something major to do with the prison. Afterwards, I was led away from this assumption by Claudia finding the "door" to Incarceron, and once I saw more evidence of just how much was kept to Protocol. Once that took over, I figured they couldn't possibly have created a prison in something so tiny that it would fit at the end of a chain. Besides, the Prison was said to be alive, and Incarceron couldn't possibly be a living thing if it were that small. Of course, I ended up in the wrong where that was concerned, and the cube was indeed the prison. Part of me, I believe, was at first shocked that the prison was that tiny and that they had the technology to make a person fit inside it. After all of the preaching of Protocol and being Era-appropriate, I was not prepared for the advancements that were revealed at the ending of the novel. However, a large part of me was elated to discover that my inclinations had been correct and Incarceron WAS actually the cube. It was certainly a great idea on the part of Catherine Fisher, and I applaud her in her creativity with the misleading entrance and the idea of the Warden's office.

Morally (Up? Down? Sideways?)right Characters

I disagree - I do not think ANY of the characters were morally upright. The only one who comes close to being morally upright is Claudia, but I can't see her as being that way because of the measures she takes to find out something she wanted to know. There was no particular purpose behind her breaking into her father's office and taking the Key excepting that she was curious, which is no reason at all to go around breaking and entering and stealing things. As much as I berate her for her actions, they did not BOTHER me. Some of the things the characters did (coughcoughtheQueencoughcough) were bordering into extremely immoral, but they were human actions. It seemed to me that these characters were more believable because they were not always moralistic and full of heroism. They acted for their own interests and desires, which is something - though we do not want to admit it - that Humanity as a whole does on a regular basis. Even things that seemed selfless, such as Glidas entering into the Beast's cave with Finn, were not entirely so, since the characters' overall goals were extremely selfish. Doing these things that would normally be considered selfless or loyal actions are really in the pursuit of something entirely the opposite, so cannot be classified as a sacrifice on the benefit of someone else. I take back my previous comment about Claudia - Attia may just be the most moralistic character of them all. Though yes, she spent time with the Comitatus and lied and disguised herself, it was for the purpose of survival. She then, when Finn saves her, claims that she owes him a debt and sets out to be his servant for forever. There is really no reason for doing this unless her actions are cynically analyzed as being a desire to continue with them so she can Escape and that being the ONLY reason she does it... which makes no sense with Attia's character. Therefore, it makes sense to say that she is the most moralistically upright character of the entire book, I believe. Overall, I would say that no, reading about immoral characters did not bother me, as it humanized them and made them more believable.

Prison. I would prefer the Prison.

The reason for this is simple - the Era-controlled Outside is an extremely convoluted and twisted place. There will never be a situation in which I would desire to live in that society. On the other hand, living in the Prison would not be entirely pleasant either. Between the grotesque images given of what life is like in Incarceron with the presence of Halfmen and pestilence, and the description of the society in places such as the Comitatus and in the.... [that city that the Three Without Mercy lived in, which I have forgotten the name of. It had a name, and I lost it], it does not sound like a pleasant place to live. However, it seems to have a much greater range of freedom than the Outside - which is completely ironic considering that this is a Prison I'm talking about. But the difference between Incarceron and Outside is so drastically different as far as society - at least, it seemed that way to me. There were more technological advancements in the Outside, but the Royalty were vicious in handling each other. I would not wish to live in a world where I could not trust the governmental entities that controlled my world. I would prefer to live in the world where you earn your place, which is how Incarceron's Wings seemed to work. In fact, I think I would like to be a member of the Civicry if anything - being Scum does not appeal to me, no matter how much freedom it would offer. It seemed a little TOO dangerous for my liking.

Legends of Sapphique Snippets

I found the snippets to be symbolic. They often aligned with the chapter or the concept of the chapter and the happenings at the time and even foreshadowed parts of the story, at least for me. Overall, as a writer myself, I thought they were marvelous, and I wish she would have published the Legends of Sapphique as a book so they could be read, along with the Songs of Sapphique, since those really interest me. They added to the story and were a nice inclusion.

Jared Sapiens and Claudia Arlex

The relationship between Jared and Claudia is one of my favorite relationships in the book. They are extremely close and know each other very well, are very protective of each other and look out for one another. It's obvious from very early in the book that Claudia looks up to Jared and he is her best friend. At first, I was hit with the "teacher-student" vibe from their relationship, but the further I read, the more I realized that their relationship had far surpassed that point and transitioned into "parent-child." Claudia is closer to him that she is to her own father, and from what I gathered, Jared sees her almost as his own child. He protects her, he taught her nearly everything she knows, and he seems to have raised her. Where her father is a controlling, over-bearing presence, Jared is a comfortable presence, a person she can confide in. I believe Jared has replaced the Warden in Claudia's mind as her father-figure, even if she may not realize it. However... the implication that Claudia and Jared are in or could be in any sort of romantic relationship, mostly for the reason explained above, absolutely mortifies me. The idea of Jared and Claudia having that kind of love doesn't even BEGIN to register in my mind as a possibility. He is much older than she is, as Caspar pointed out when he accused her of being in a romantic - or possibly, considering his perspective, strictly sexual - relationship with her mentor. The reaction she had to that comment solidifies my suspicion that she never could and never will see Jared through rose-colored glasses. Besides, she has grown up with this man as her teacher and friend. If anything were going to develop, considering her age, it would have developed by this point. The fact that she grew up with him... that would be like having a relationship with her older brother, or her uncle, or, if my thoughts are correct, her father. It is simply WRONG. But... that is merely my humble opinion.

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