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. (publisher’s summary)
Here’s what The Girl (age 12) thought of Lockdown, the first book in the Escape From Furnace series by Alexander Gordon Smith:
*I first want to say this was 5/5 stars for me.
*This is one of the best dystopian novels I’ve read in a long time. When I picked up this book, I didn’t realize it was about an all-boy’s prison, so this book is geared toward boys. But that didn’t bother me.
*This is a young adult novel for teens 14 and up because it is gory. Really gory. But I didn’t mind the gory descriptions because they made the book more vivid and exciting. There was also violence, with things like the warden’s monster-like dogs that rip people apart. Even though my mom let me read it, it’s not a book for everyone. I think some people would find it scary, but I didn’t.
*I loved the descriptive writing. Here is an example, which describes the “Hell Hounds” and could be kind of gross:
They didn’t have any skin. Their slick bodies were made up of muscles and tendons that bulged in plain view, throbbing gently with the beating of their hearts. As they moved you could see their insides working, the muscles stretching then contracting, finally tensing when the group came to a halt. Their faces too were entirely devoid of fur, two silver eyes embedded into their flesh and glaring at our group like we were dinner. (page 56 in the advanced reader’s edition)
*My favorite character was Carl Donovan (everyone calls him Donovan), the cellmate of the narrator, Alex. He was sometimes gloomy, protective of Alex, and I just liked him.
*I loved that this book had lots of action, and I thought the story was unique. It was suspenseful, and the author makes you feel like you are in the prison, too. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in this series.
Disclosure: I received Lockdown from Farrar, Straus and Giroux for review.
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