Those two books have been good ones though: Incarceron and Sapphique by Catherine Fisher. Yes, this duo is yet another young adult dystopian series...don't judge! But, it is refreshingly different from the others of its kind, and that's part of why I liked it.
Even though I classified these books as dystopian, they could actually fall in a number of different categories: science fiction, historical, fantasy... which is pretty cool. Incarceron tells the story of two different people in two different worlds. Finn is a prisoner in Incarceron, a futuristic prison that is actually alive. Finn can't remember who he is or where he came from, but he is caught up in his fellow prisoners' dreams of escape. Claudia is the Warden of Incarceron's daughter, living in the Realm, a seemingly 18th century society complete with petticoats and servants and a queen. But like everything else in this novel, the Realm isn't what it appears to be. Finn's quest for escape and Claudia's attempts to thwart her father's plans for her arranged marriage lead them to each other, and they begin to discover truths about their worlds that will change everything.
I'm going to start with the bad, and end with the good. Because, while there was a lot that I didn't like about these books, my overall impression was good, and I want yours to be too. So, the bad:
1. The characters didn't quite make sense. For one, they weren't really likeable. And they didn't really seem to grow or change as the story went on, so there was no redemptive revelation or change of heart at the end. Also, the characters were constantly behaving out of character, so much so that I wasn't really sure what their actual character was.
2. This story was confusing!! I constantly had to go back and reread, trying to find small but crucial details hidden in the seemingly unimportant, almost boring descriptions of something else. And although there was a pretty solid conclusion, I still don't think I completely understand what happened. And there were several dangling story lines there at the end that I think should have been wrapped up a little more.
(For other people, this might not be a bad thing. Maybe what confused me will fascinate you.. Maybe I just didn't give the books enough thought and attention, and if I had I would be blown away by the intricacies of the plot... I don't know.)
3. No love story. I actually don't know if this is a pro or a con for me. The first book had the beginnings of a good love story, maybe even a love triangle, but then in the end there were too many hard feelings between characters, and they were never able to overcome them, so the love story never really went anywhere. The good thing about this is that it is a little refreshing after reading so many other predictable love stories. The bad thing is I found myself really hoping something would happen, and I was disappointed when it didn't.
And now, for the good:
1. I LOVED the setting, especially the paradox of future and past. I found myself forgetting that I wasn't reading historical fiction, until I would read something about using forbidden washing machines and I would remember that it was actually the future. And then there was the prison, Incarceron itself. An artificially intelligent prison that houses an entire civilization. Pretty interesting. The whole concept of the books is so different from anything I've read before, and I loved that.
2. The mystery- Nothing in these worlds was what it seemed... And even at the end I wasn't completely sure what was real. While it was a little frustrating at times, it was also fascinating to witness the discoveries along with the characters... and it was fun to speculate and try to figure out what was really happening. It made for some good page-turning suspense.
So, my overall opinion: Even though I didn't really feel like I connected with the characters, and the story was super confusing, I still really enjoyed the books. The concept, setting, suspense, and mystery were enough to make me overlook the bad stuff.
And I'll close with this little tidbit of interesting news. Incarceron is following in the footsteps of every other new young adult dystopian series. That's right, Incarceron is soon going to be a movie, and will be starring none other than Twilight's very own Taylor Lautner. There are also rumors that Emma Watson be playing Lautner's love interest. (Wait, didn't I say there wasn't much of a love story in the book? Yes. But you can bet that won't be the case in the movie.) With stars from both Twilight AND Harry Potter, how can they go wrong?? However, despite the star-studded cast, or maybe because of it, I have a feeling that this movie is a disaster waiting to happen...