Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

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Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Beautifully imagined and realised, this follow up to Incarceron continues with big issues and a compelling plot. It is a barnstorming piece of serious fantasy that doesn't put a foot wrong.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 480 Date: September 2008
Publisher: Hodder
ISBN: 0340893613

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Thanks to Claudia, the Warden's daughter, Finn has escaped from Incarceron, a living prison in a future dystopian world. He has a new identity as Prince Giles, heir to the Realm. But not everyone believes in him, least of all the wicked and manipulative Queen. Finn is torn between a new future and regret for his past. For Keiro and Attia are still trapped inside Incarceron. Jared works ceaselessly to find a way to free them, but inside even the Warden is struggling to control the prison, which has developed consciousness and itself dreams of escape.

I loved Sapphique almost as much as I loved Incarceron, the first in this stunningly original series. The narrative is as tense and fast-moving and the plot has as many twists. As these two disparate but equally dystopian worlds continue to disintegrate, you really do get a sense of the inevitability of impending crisis. Gradually, the threads come together and as they do, readers confront the ambiguity of morality. Even Claudia finds it difficult to fully trust Finn - but is this because he's had to lie to survive in prison, or because he is a liar? Is the Warden as dark as we had previously thought? Can we feel pity for the deranged computer consciousness?

It's sophisticated and thoughtful in theme, but it's a roller coaster ride of a plot and it's perfect for intelligent young readers. It's engrossing, intricate, intelligent, and its characters are interesting, courageous, faulty, and utterly credible. It talks about liberalism, authoritarianism, propaganda, and the search for knowledge. It's set in a post-apocalyptic world of regression and it gives a great deal of pause for thought about contemporary issues. The worldbuilding is thoroughly thought through, but there's no tiresome exposition or endlesss trainspotterish detail.

But most of all, it's a rollicking good read, and one of the best fantasy novels for children around at the moment.

My thanks to the nice people at Hodder for sending the book.

If they like books about future dystopias, they might also enjoy The Declaration by Gemma Malley.

Booklists.jpg Sapphique by Catherine Fisher is in the Top Ten Beach Reads For Teens.

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Magda said:

Aaah! I read the first one recently and loved it. And the mystery of where Incarceron was just so good! I am often disappointed with solutions to in-text mysteries, but this was excellent.

Need to get hold of this one,


Jill replied:

Yes; it's excellent. I'd send you mine, but it has to go through Conor, my mother, and my sister-in-law!