Lockdown: Escape From Furnace is the first book in the Furnace series by Alexander Gordon Smith. The cover caught my eye immediately- it is totally creepy and the gas mask reminded me of Doctor Who and the whole "are you my Mummy?" stuff. I also thought the synopsis sounded interesting.
Furnace Penitentiary: the world’s most secure prison for young offenders, buried a mile beneath the earth’s surface. Convicted of a murder he didn't commit, sentenced to life without parole, “new fish” Alex Sawyer knows he has two choices: find a way out, or resign himself to a death behind bars, in the darkness at the bottom of the world. Except in Furnace, death is the least of his worries. Soon Alex discovers that the prison is a place of pure evil, where inhuman creatures in gas masks stalk the corridors at night, where giants in black suits drag screaming inmates into the shadows, where deformed beasts can be heard howling from the blood-drenched tunnels below. And behind everything is the mysterious, all-powerful warden, a man as cruel and dangerous as the devil himself, whose unthinkable acts have consequences that stretch far beyond the walls of the prison.
Together with a bunch of inmates—some innocent kids who have been framed, others cold-blooded killers—Alex plans an escape. But as he starts to uncover the truth about Furnace’s deeper, darker purpose, Alex’s actions grow ever more dangerous, and he must risk everything to expose this nightmare that’s hidden from the eyes of the world.
Sounds bizarre right? It is. Lockdown is a whole other world of evil. Think of the depths of hell and the evil that must brew close to the center of the earth... then multiple it. That is Furnace Penitentiary. Smith created a world so evil the Devil would be scared. His depiction of Furnace is chilling- while reading, I could picture this horrible place in my mind as I traveled along side Alex as he sunk below the earths surface and entered a nightmare. Not your typical jail story, the reader learns early on that the workers from Furnace are not there to protect you- they are there to fill beds. Guilty or not, the kids who end up in Furnace are in for the worst nightmare imaginable, because in Furnace, everyone is guilty of their crimes. Unimaginable monsters are woven into the story in the form of gangs, mutant animals, and gas mask clad creatures. Everyone must fight to survive- and hope they make it through the night.
I must say that this was a bit slow in the beginning- although it was necessary. We need a back story for Alex to understand who he is and why he ends up at Furnace. Once we get to Furnace though, things move quickly. The story picks up some serious momentum and I plowed through. Smith created such disturbing pictures in my head that I swear it was real. Smith laid a foundation of fear as he described Furnace Penitentiary and described the underbelly of the earth. The monstrous dogs that come for the inmates was a vivid image in my mind thanks to beautifully wicked descriptions. The evil gas masked creatures that mark the cells in the middle of the night were haunting- I could hear their screams in my head. Overall, Smith did a mind blowing amount of description without slowing his pace or losing his readers. The minute details that he wove into the story created such an ugly picture. I was amazed. The characters were not as developed but it almost didn't matter- he gave us enough to get attached and feel for Alex, Donovan, and Zee. Other players in the story were also memorable, even without huge back stories.
I was greatly impressed with the writing in Lockdown and as so pleased to have found Alexander Gordon Smith. His writing is disturbingly wicked and quite memorizing I will absolutely read the next one in this series: Solitary and certainly finish this series- there are five books in all. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a creepy action filled tale.
write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow