If you haven't read Incarceron, then this review will contain spoilers... If you are interested in these books, however, (and you should be!!!) I recommend that you read my review for Incarceron here. (I've read it twice. This link leads to the second review; however, I put a link to the first review on there so you can read both.)
1/1/11 - 1/9/11
Finn has Escaped from Incarceron, but is now living in another prison. The gaudy clothes, the lights, the fake people who don't really believe he's Giles... Even Claudia seems to be doubting him. While he wants her to believe in his identity, he doesn't even believe it himself. The fits still come, and he rants and rages about the smallest things. Jared is dying; the medication only helps for a while, and then the pain comes back - worse. The Queen is just as vicioius as before; even more so now. She has tricks and schemes up her sleeves - Finn knows it, even if no one else does.
On the other side of reality, Attia and Keiro are still in the prison, fighting for their lives. But now there's Rix involved, an insane man who believes he's the Dark Enchanter. He is said to have possession of the Glove, Sapphique's Glove, the Prison's Glove. The Glove that can get them out of here. But how long can they follow Rix without being killed? And the Prison itself... It's acting strangely. It seems to be pulling away, focusing hard...
How can these two worlds connect? Will there be a new way to travel between the worlds, now that the keys have disappeared with the Warden? Can Finn remember his supposed past, and prove to everyone he is Giles? And will Attia and Keiro find the Door that freed Sapphique from the Prison?
Oh. My goodness. Where to begin...
I loved everything about this book. Literally, everything. I can't think of one thing that I would even say was remotely uninteresting or slow or bad or confusing. Everything was perfect, set into place. That's my one word description: perfect. Ridiculously so.
Let me start with Jared. Oh, how I love him. I loved him in Incarceron, and my love grew in Sapphique. He is my favorite in every way: who he is, his part in the story, everything he says and does and the way he thinks about things. The way he feels for everyone around him, especially Claudia. Gosh. :)
Claudia and Finn are another matter - both are feisty in their own manner, and yet both have the same vision against protocol for the kingdom. The way they interacted together was just wonderful. Their characters are absolutely complimentary for the purpose of the story. Even if you can't picture them getting along well, Fisher makes it work in a way that is undeniably genius. You know that if they live through this war with the Queen, they will be great rulers together.
One thing that I noticed in Sapphique that wasn't very prominent in Incarceron was Caspar's character: Idiot. Dunce. Total follower and complainer. Weak. Vulnerable. Pitiful. (All of these in a slightly...humorous manner.) While I knew he was some of these, his character was much more developed and delved into in Sapphique. And I liked what I saw. I laughed out loud at some of the things he said and did, and his character added so much more to the story. He was a useful tool, one that added depth and life to the story.
And the writing... I mean - who writes like Catherine Fisher? She has the right phrases, the right dialogue, the right word choices. It's all perfect, and it fits in a glorious, powerful pattern that creates an story that would, to anyone else, be hard to write. A lot of other reviewers talk about how hard it was to write a review for Incarceron...can you imagine how hard it would be to write the actual book? But Fisher has it down.
Combine the writing with the story line, and you get something that you don't see every day. These books are full of raw, penetrating power. Every sentence reflects this; and the story is real. When I read it, it came alive. I felt as though I lived there, that the Realm was real - that Incarceron really was alive. That it existed somewhere, and I was a part of it. The characters became my friends, and my enemies. Their struggles became mine. I fought alongside them. And on top of that.... (Yes, there's even more!) Catherine Fisher is the QUEEN of twists and cliff-hangers. Wanna know how many I counted? Ok, nevermind, I lost count... But, if I'm being hoenst, there was at least one cliffhanger every chapter, and usually there was a twist, too. Fisher manages to build up a whole world in only a few pages, where what you believe about it is so certain and firm and you think it can never be changed - and then with one sentence, one word, you discover that you were completely and utterly wrong.
Sound fascinating? I think yes.
After this rollercoaster of a story, what did I think? What did I feel? What did I do? When it was over, I felt whole. It was incredibly perfect, how she finished off these powerful books. The climax surpassed even my highest expectations (which, because of my love for Incarceron, were really high). I had NO idea what she had planned for the end. I actually cried during the last 20 pages. I couldn't believe what had happened, and it was so emotional (for me, as I was totally attached to the characters) and just wonderful. (And let's just say.......Jared.) The last few pages just make your heart melt. I was very pleased. And I know I'll read it again - I'll probably read it many times. It's one of those that you'll never get enough of. At least, I know I won't.
Highly recommended, ages 15 to 100. :)
("B**ch" is repeated twice. Other than that, it's only intense action and some violence that is something to look out for for younger readers.)