Caris's Reviews > Incarceron

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
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Oct 10, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2010, young-adult
Read from October 04 to 10, 2010

Every year, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a subsidiary of the American Library Association, allows teenagers all across the country to vote on the top ten books of the year. There are twenty-five selections to choose from, nominated by YALSA teen book groups. The books that make the top ten list don't actually get anything as far as I know, but there is some sort of pride to be found in the whole thing, I suppose.

At my library, there is a teen group that does things like this. They are responsible for deciding what teen programs go on in the library and their purpose (I think) is to get more of their kind into the library. The problem with this is that the members of this group are not representative of the population. If I were former FBI criminal super-profiler John Douglas, I would describe the typical member thusly (twss):

Middle class.
Affinity for fantasy.
Poor social skills.
Attends online high school.
Questionable hygiene.
So fucking happy to have found these other weird and awkward people that they have no interest in spoiling paradise by enticing other teens to come to the library.

I can't blame them for being who they are. I am sympathetic. I don't really care for teenagers as a whole. There are individuals who are very neat people, but as a whole, I'd request that the court grant me a protective order. Teenagers are douchebags. When they invade the library en masse, there are fights and acts of vandalism and unwanted pregnancies. If I were a part of this library nerd group, I would not want those people around me, either.

However, despite my own prejudices and lack of patience (Lord, that serenity shit, please), I think teenagers belong in society. They should be at the library. They should be forgiven for acting like idiots. They represent a large portion of the population and they deserve to receive their share of the pie.

It is for this reason that I question the YALSA selection process for this top ten list. I think that the people selecting these books aren't speaking for their generation. In fact, I think they're making shit up or are being guided by more powerful hands.

I've read half of the nominees. If I were to unfairly lump them into one big category (as I did to teenagers a few paragraphs ago) I would have to say that these books sucked deep-fried balls. There were a few gems (Incarceron included), but a lot of these books were a joke. Most of them were written for a female audience and were about “serious” issues like suicide and cutting and eating disorders. Some of them were love stories. And I think one was funny. But here's where I know things are amiss: I hadn't heard of any of these books before I was assigned to read them.

Good books are often popular books. The young adult collection is one of our library's smallest, so the collection moves quite a bit. As such, a lot of teen titles pass through my hands through the course of the day. But these didn't. I don't know why that is exactly, but these are not much loved favorites. Nor are they unobtrusive codices of profundity. For the most part they were shit books that some asshole kids recommended for the list. The nominations should have been a national thing. Write-ins should have been allowed. This process is like a Fox News poll on Obama's public satisfaction rating: you can trust it if you're an idiot.

And that's where I get angry. I was hoping to find books to recommend to teenagers when I started this list. More than anyone else, teenagers ask for help selecting titles. Often it's for a book report, but sometimes the requests are from former readers who would like to get back into the game, but don't know how. A shitty recommendation could ruin everything. Eight out of ten of the books I read would ruin everything.

I don't know where that leaves me. I found a couple that I liked, maybe half of which I would recommend to people. But I find myself jaded toward YA fiction. Most of this stuff is complete garbage.

But yeah. Incarceron. Good book. It's about a prison that happens to be alive. And kind of cruel. And ridiculously smart. And uncontrollable. Not bad at all.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony My son was just telling me this morning that he loved this book...

Caris Your son is a smart man. This is one of the best YA books I've read. I'm giving some consideration to upping it a star. Really original stuff.

message 3: by Jasmine (new) - added it

Jasmine 4 stars!!!

hunger games is a great book for teenagers.

message 4: by Michael (new)


Caris There was a little bit about the book in there. I think.

message 6: by karen (new)

karen there was enough. and i totally agree with him. i am finding a similar problem in my teen class - all the ones that were good on the syllabus i had already read. mostly. there were a few standout surprises. i own this one, but have not read it yet, but don't have to for class...

Caris See that? Karen thinks Michael's a fuckstick, too.

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