INCARCERON, by Catherine Fisher (Dial 2010, orig. published in the UK 2007). A century and a half ago, the Sapienti created Incarceron, a prison as vast as worlds, from which no one can escape. In it, they sealed in their criminals and their dregs and their undesirables. They thought they had created a paradise. But Incarceron was alive, and without mercy.
Three years ago, at fifteen, Finn woke up in a cell in the prison, without memories, but with the conviction that he didn't belong there: that he, alone of all the inhabitants of Incarceron, was from the Outside. For now though, he lives in a world red in tooth and claw. But he's determined to make it back Outside, although has no real hope of doing so. And then he finds a crystal key and a link to a girl...
Outside, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, lives in a stagnant world governed by the Protocol, defining a society that exists in a pre-industrial revolution state of grace. Or at least, that was the theory. But unrest teems just below the surface...Claudia herself is doomed to an arranged marriage. Unless, she thinks, she can help Finn escape, and reveal the truth that the prison, still believed to be a paradise, is actually an anarchic hell.
INCARCERON is a gripping read, filled with action and suspense. Finn and Claudia are intriguing and compelling mirrors of each other; minor characters likewise shine. INCARCERON offers a rich story amid a fascinating and disturbing construct of societal engineering gone awry. A sequel, Sapphique, was published in the UK in 2008.