Incarceron, written by Catherine Fisher, is a YA dystopia about a world divided into two worlds. One is during the Era. The Era is basically similar to living during the 18th century. There is a hierarchy consisting of monarch, elites, and commoners. Technology, such as cell phones, computers, and even modern medicine, is banned because it is non-Era (meaning it came before the switch to the “ideal” society). The Era is set above ground in the natural world.
Opposite the Era, there is Incarceron, a giant living prison. When the kings created the Era, they took half of the population, for example the undesirables, the criminals, and the ill, and locked them in Incarceron. To the people in the Era, the prison is supposedly a paradise, and according to the elites it is. In reality though, it is a nightmarish landscape. Since the only contact between Incareron and the people in the Era is through the Warden, no one is aware of this.
One of my favorite things about dystopian literature is its criticism of a social ideal. One of the ideals being criticized in this book is “the good ol’ days,” and how even though things may have seemed perfect in the past, they are not actually perfect. Trying to recreate them, as one can see in Incarceron, creates more problems than benefits.
This criticism of social, cultural, and political ideas is present in every dystopia. Through them we can form an opinion of a piece of one’s own society or society as a whole. Sometimes this spurs within each individual a spark and one thinks “Wow, I never even thought about that before”. Or maybe the reader has thought about the criticisms but is now able to see it from a new perspective. The point is, readers are able to draw parallels between the traits of the fictional world in the dystopia and use them to critique their own society.
So how has dystopia literature influenced the views of readers? How will the criticisms of these book, particularly those brought up in YA dystopia, affect the future political and social climate?
Fisher, Catherine. Incarceron. Penguin Group, 2007.