This YA had a very interesting premise. It might even be our world in the future. I got that feeling but it’s a far flung future. There has been the Years of Rage. Afterwards, there was a reckoning. From this, we have the king’s reign (which seems to be world wide but it’s hard to tell) where in Protocol is strictly observed. With a great loss of resources the Protocol seems to be the 1700’s reborn (with a lot of the same loss of roles for women, though that doesn’t mean women aren’t prominent in this story) and there is to be NO change. No science. No progress, no ‘time.’ Everything is going to stay this way forever. The sapienti (Latin for ‘wise’) built a prison, Incarceron, and in it were put all the criminals (and rebels) with a grand social experiment. They were going to make this prison a utopia.
It’s now a hundred years later and the main players are:
On the outside world, the queen (rumored to be a sorceress and definitely the power behind the throne), Casper (her spoiled and cruel son), Claudia (one of the two main pov characters, the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron), John (the Warden, Claudia’s father) & Jared (her instructor, a sapient)
Inside the prison, Finn (the other main pov character), Keiro (his oathbrother and less than trustworthy sort), Gildas (a sapient), & Attia (slave girl).
Claudia is only weeks from marrying Casper, a fate she would very much like to escape even if it means being queen some day, provided she lives that long. She loves Jared like a father and she is afraid of her own father. She has been groomed to be queen whether she likes it or not. Finn is a ‘starseer’ who has visions and epileptic fits. He’s convinced he was born outside the prison but no one believes him, not even Keiro.
Finn’s journey begins first. He, Keiro & Gildas, along with Attia, end up with a key (this takes a few chapters to get this far). They start out through the nearly infinite living prison that is Incarceron, following in the footsteps of Sapphique, a legendary figure who is rumored to have escaped. Claudia sneaks into her father’s study and finds his key. It allows her to see and speak to Finn inside the prison.
Finn and the others are stunned to see that there really is an outside world. Claudia begins to believe Finn is Giles, the king’s first son to the queen before Casper’s mother became queen. (It didn’t take much to figure out this was where the book is going) Giles was a gentle kind-hearted boy and Claudia would have been happy to marry him.
This book is 450 pages, give or take, and it a giant Machiavellian mess of intrigue, plots and suspense. I really enjoyed it. Yes, there were times I wished they would just get on with it, especially as I neared the end and realized that this might not even be concluded in one book. (It was but only barely and the world-changing events at the end will obviously be dealt with in the sequel). Finn and Claudia are likeable and layered. The book had twists I didn’t see coming. I enjoyed this one a lot more than I thought I would.
Natsume’s Book of Friends vol 2 by Yuki Midorikawa
This is a supernatural story that reminds me a lot of Nightmare Inspector or Petshop of Horrors. Each ‘chapter’ is meant as a stand alone. It follows the life of Takashi Natsume, a young boy who can see yokai, the spirits and for some reason can’t seem to stop himself from saying things like ‘did you see that umbrella floating by?’ and scaring off all his friends (okay that’s snarky but seriously, if you know this freaks people out maybe you should let them notice things around you and mention them before you speak).
His grandmother Reiko could see these yokai too and had the ‘book of friends’ where she made the yokai give her their names which gave her dominion over them. She died young but not before having at least one child. Natsume, however, is an orphan, shuttled from one family to another until he ends with the distant relatives he’s with now. He feels very pressured to be ‘normal’ so not to upset them and he wants to repay them for being so kind to him. He’s finally feeling at home in this place but he still sees the yokai
He’s accompanied by a body guard, Nyanko Sensei, a yokai who has fused with a cat statue and can be seen by everyone. Nyanko is technically protecting the book of friends and plans to eventually eat Natsume who is busy giving back the yokai their names from the book.
In this volume, we had one of the haunted schoolhouse class parties (that seems to be a popular theme in Japanese horror), Natsume meeting someone else who can see what he does but who has a different philosophy about it and a possession. I like episodic supernatural manga. I like this. Natsume is sweet and the art is cute.
Books: 20 Manga : 23