I have had Incarceron by Catherine Fisher on my library wishlist for MONTHS. I even check it out once to never open it. That all changed this weekend.
Incarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells, but also metal forests, dilapidated cities, and vast wilderness. Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, has no memory of his childhood and is sure that he came from Outside Incarceron. Very few prisoners believe that there is an Outside, however, which makes escape seems impossible.
And then Finn finds a crystal key that allows him to communicate with a girl named Claudia. She claims to live Outside- she is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, and doomed to an arranged marriage. Finn is determined to escape the prison, and Claudia believes she can help him. But they don't realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost more than they know (GoodReads).
First and foremost, Grad Student had to explain steam punk to me. Then I Wikipedia-ed it. WHO KNEW? This was my first foray into the genre and i am intrigued and at least glad to know modern bathroom amenities were used on the sly.
Originality: 7. That entire 7 rating is for Incarceron itself. Weird mind bending stuff happening here, serious originality and inspiration. Creepy too. With potential hints of magic? Unclear. I enjoyed the plot twists quite a bit, some especially I never saw coming. O yea and Lightsout, as a term for nighttime adopted by the prisoners over many years, loved the idea.
Absurdity: 7. I think that all steampunk gets an absurdity of at least 6. The time/space/universe shifting is for sure another point of absurdity.
Level of Paranormal Romance: 3. There is potential and betrothals, but no romance at this point.
Level of Harry Potter-ness: 8. I liked this quite a bit! I though Finn was a character you could root for, and that Claudia ended up with much more to her then the headstrong (sigh) rich daughter she first appeared to be. I look forward to their next adventure.