Incarceron -- a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology -- a living building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character, and a typical medieval torture chamber -- chains, great halls, dungeons. A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison -- a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device -- a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn's escape is born ..
The concept of Incarceron is fascinating : a very alive prison which Originally was created to "take care" of its inmates by educating, civilizing, and nurturing them, creating an Utopian society. After a time something had change - instead of Utopian society the inmates turn to savage tribes. Incarceron place is so big - it contains not only cells, metal forests, dilapidated cites and vast wilderness. It is a metal world where nothing is created or wasted and where all who live there, lives in a cutthroat world, fighting for food and survival. As a live identity, Incarceron observes everything that goes on inside it's walls, with its red seeing eyes. Omnipresent to the mortals within, it is the world they have ever known. As time pass by this place had been forgotten as no one can enter and no one can leave its place. Very few prisoners believe that there is an outside, however makes escape seems impossible. Our main character Finn believe in it too.
Finn, is a seventeen year old boy who was created by the technology that runs Incarceron. He knows nothing about his past. He only know that two years ago, he woke in a dark squalid cell , mad with fear and lost memories. Finn started to seeks answers. Finn believes that there's another place outside Incarceron and he might have came there. Finn, and his friends - Keiro, Attia and Gildas try to escape the prison like many have. But they have something others didn't- the one person with the visions of the outside believed to be given to him by Sapphique - they believe that Finn is a starseer - this assumption got stronger when Finn discovers a a crystal key with the same strange marking as the tattoo on his wrist. The key allows him to communicate with a mysterious girl name Claudia, who claims that she's from the Outside.....
The outside world, is trapped in time by the royal dynasty's will. There are protocols, that mingle technology with the 17th century customs. The Protocol the banned usage of anything automated. So while their world is run by computers, society is living in the past. So beside the time the protocol is one of the resons that the people outside forgot about the experience that was Incarceron.
Claudia is the daughter of Incarceron's Warden. She lives in a manor house stuck in a 17th century world run by computers. in a world that run buy the protocol -were artists and poets are doomed to endless repetitions of the past. She also, had been arranged to marry the spoiled prince of the realm. The problem - the royal heir Giles at age 15, had been killed in a riding accident and now Claudia is forced into an engagement with his snarky step-brother, Caspar.
This engagement is the result of the plotting of her powerful father the Warden. he had planed this since she was at age of 5 and prepared her to become queen. Claudia is terrified of him. Frustrated with her bleak future and cutthroat political games in which she finds herself ensnared. Claudia feel that things are not what they seem, that things are corrupt. She determined to prove that. she right - the monarchy has too many secrets. One of them is Incarceron, so when she finds a crystal key in her father's study (the Warden knows the secrets of Incarceron, but he has no plans to share them, not even to his only daughter), she finds a link to a world that is nothing like the ideal utopia. with this key. she also found that she can communicate with Finn on the other side.
So now - Finn and Claudia, crossed paths and their all world turned upside down. Finn want to escape, convinced by strange visions, the mysterious crystal key, and the legend of Sapphique, the only man who ever escaped Incarceron, he is determined to escape as well. Claudia is surprised that Finn wants to escape since the outside world has been told Incarceron is somewhat of a paradise. She has her own problems because she is slated to marry this creepy future king. She agrees to help him escape. She want the adventure and its thrill.
The book switches back and forth between Claudia and Finn's. The switches were often very quick - only page or two for each person's story. Some people might find the rapid switches between viewpoints a bit jarring.