Series: Escape from Furnace #1
Published by Macmillan on October 27th 2009
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure, General, Survival Stories, Boys & Men, Horror, Horror & Ghost Stories, Law & Crime, Science Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
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.
“I’d been so set on an escape that was now impossible, and the only form of freedom left to me was death. It was a terrible kind of freedom—one from misery and pain, yes, but also one from lightness and laughter and life. It was an absence of everything.”
I first came across Alexander Gordon Smith’s Escape from Furnace series during my Maze Runner phase. The story looked very compelling, and the sample I read was interesting. However, I didn’t know anyone who had read it so I was afraid to take a chance on an unfamiliar author. Now that I’ve finally begun the series, I can honestly say that it is worth checking out. The story is like others I’ve read before in terms of youths who rise up against the dystopian system that tries to keep them down, but the setting of the prison and possible Nazi scientist storyline makes it different enough to keep me intrigued beyond the first novel.
In the story, Alex Sawyer is a petty criminal who gets sent to prison for the one crime he didn’t commit. Furnace Penitentiary is just any prison. It’s a maximum security prison for young offenders that’s buried under the Earth’s surface. Following a spree of horrible violent crimes committed by teens, the public wanted a place to lock them up, and throw away the key. Furnace was that solution, and once there, Alex discovers it contains worse horrors than he ever could have imagined.
As stated above, this novel reminded me a lot of James Dashner’s The Maze Runner, but the twist of the protagonist being a criminal made the story even more interesting to me. In fact, even though I enjoyed Dashner’s series, I might arguably say that this book was better written. Even though similar, I found Lockdown to be more sinister as it resonated with me considering our current political climate. With prisons being incredibly full, and younger and younger people sentenced every day it’s not hard to image that a place like this could one day exist. Though I found the prison escape scenario to be quite thrilling, what interested me more about the novel was the storyline about the inhuman creatures in gas masks that come at night.
Having our youth locked away in a maximum security prison is terrifying enough, I found the plot thread of the mysterious creatures even more so. It’s obvious that there is something humanoid about them, and I can’t wait to discover the prison’s true purpose. Maybe it’s not to keep society safe after all, but bring about its destruction. I can’t wait to find out! Lockdown is definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of dystopian novels. You may not find it very different from other books in the genre, but it will give you something to think about.