Saturday, May 8, 2010
Literary Feast Discussion: Incarceron (pp. 1-78)
Hi friends, and welcome to our newest Literary Feast, starring Incarceron by Catherine Fisher.
Shel and I obviously haven't gotten very far yet, but at the moment, we're both really enjoying the book. So hop on in and join the discussion. We hope you'll be as (wait for it...) captivated by the book as we both are.
(Get it? Because they're all in prison? Like captives?)
Monica: Incarceron is pretty. The actual physical book, not the prison itself, obviously. I’m liking the mysterious twisty numbers and cogs, although… the key doesn’t really seem to match the description....
Shel: I agree about the cover. And I would like a key that looks like that. But when do the cover and content of a book every completely match? I think cover designers are out to torture us all.
Monica: I think the authors would agree with you on that half the time, Shel. ;)
Shel: Maestra, Jormanric, Sim, Keiro, Aslo...Good God, I'm going to have trouble remembering the characters' names in this book!
Monica: I’ve had to revert to what I do normally in fantasy books – I just look at the first letter and sort of substitute in a sound. Because let’s be honest – you can register the name with the character visually, without actually *reading* the name. (Like, for years I would read “Hermione” as “Hrmnnnnnn” and just keep on going.)
Shel: Yeah, for me Hermione was just Her in my mind... Ooh, and yet another Warden's daughter. I'm reminded of Al Capone Does My Shorts.
Monica: Only Claudia is AWESOME. Seriously, I’m loving her. She’s sneaky and rebellious and (best of all) she actually appears to be as smart and talented as she thinks she is. It’s not just that she doesn’t want to get married, it’s that she actually is arranging the means to avoid it! Piper is a pale, pale shade in comparison.
Shel: Yeah, I think Claudia kicks bum-bum too. Plus, there are also some big differences between the fathers as well. We have a father twisted around his daughter's pinky and a sociopath. I like the small little comment about how Claudia thinks that she's in a "hated cage" (p. 19). I think this could really draw out questions about what a prison is. To get my nerd on, I'm also reminded of my favorite section of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, in which she discusses Foucault's interpretation of the Panopticon prison. Good times, all these prisons.
Monica: Gaaaaaah. What are you doing!? You can’t bring up Foucault in the middle of my fantastic fantasy revels!! Away with ye – I’m going to keep thinking shallow thoughts about how incredibly cool all the imagery is, without looking for that deeper meaning.
Shel: I can't help it! I'm mentally structuring a quarter in which my students and I would look at the way prisons are presented in YA novels. It would be glorious. And intense.
Monica: Dear Shel's students, I apologize if I in any way played a part in this terrifying lesson plan. Love, Monica.
Shel: You know, compared to the slimy Taccone in Heist Society (our last literary feast, for those of you paying attention), Jormanric feels much more evil. Yet, so far he's all talk. How did Fisher do that?
Monica: I think it’s because Jormanric is so over the top – I’m imagining him as this sort of terrifying Jabba the Hutt man, all "Ohta su marvalic plesodoro" and chortling away as he ruins people’s lives. Taccone was described as evil, but I always got the feeling that he didn’t really want to dirty his hands with anything. Jormanric, though, seems like he’d really, really enjoy bringing the hurt – and since he hasn’t actually done anything yet, you’re stuck waiting for whatever awful thing you just *know* he’s about to do.
Shel: I totally pictured him as a Jabba like character too. Expect a little less green. So, I'm still kind of confused about what exactly is going on in the Incarceron, but Claudia's plot line has me intrigued. I'm getting into this book! How about you, Monica? Readers of the world?
Monica: No, for realsies, I’m finding this first section ridiculously entertaining. I’m enjoying how it keeps startling me, especially in terms of the “Era” appearance versus the actual available technology, and the descriptions of things in the prison. When Finn passes a rat, and sees "dust falling on its metal scales" (p.28) – I love stuff like that.
Shel: I think I'd blocked out that thing about the rat. Thanks for mentioning that again. BTW, if I lived in this world, I'd be all about this Era business. But I wouldn't be able to stick to just one. I'd have a 1920's afternoon than a Victorian evening. Fun!
That's all we've got for you so far, friends -- now get to reading!
We're going to be discussing the next section, chapters 7-12, on Wednesday. Hope to see you all there!