Saturday, February 13, 2010

Battle of the Prisonbreak Books

So, a few months ago, Krista and I were talking about the whole vampire fever that's swept the nation, and she said, "I wonder what the next rage is going to be." Halfway out of nowhere, and halfway because I'd just read a great book on the subject, I said "Teens in prison, trying to break out."

And darned if I wasn't (kind of) right.

I've read two already: Lockdown: Escape from Furnace, by Alexander Gordon Smith, and Incarceron by Catherine Fisher--and thought I should compare them for you. (You may also want to check out The Maze Runner and Icecore by Matt Whyman.)

Now, Incarceron is getting a lot of hype out there, and at first look, you can see why. A prison that's alive? A boy with a mysterious tattoo trapped on the inside, and a girl (about to be married in an arranged --and highly unpleasant-- wedding) with a crystal key (that matches his tattoo!) working on the outside? Terrific stuff, right? And for those of you who are really into futuristic technology, crumbling distopias, and a world made up of more traditionally fantastical elements (sages, Victorian clothes, ancient prophesies), this is definitely the book for you. My favorite parts of the whole thing involved the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, many of them poems or snippets from the legends of Sapphique--the mysterious hero who is the only known person to escape from Incarceron. This gave the whole book an even more ancient-legend kind of feel, which I thought was cool.

Admittedly, to me however, Lockdown was cooler. Yes, there's still a crumbling futuristic distopia. Yes, there are fantastically weird (and very scary) not-real creatures, and yes there's a boy trapped inside. But in Lockdown the action is a lot faster paced, the consequences the characters face are much more realistic and threatening, and the rules of the prison are a lot more clear-cut (and therefore the action's a lot more suspenseful).

You'd get a good read out of either of these books though, and if my hunch is right, you'll be at the forefront of a trend whose wave is just about to crest! 


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