Series: Escape From Furnace #2
Published by Macmillan on December 21st 2010
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
Alex Sawyer and his mates should have known there was no way out of Furnace Penitentiary. Their escape attempt only lands them deeper in the guts of this prison for young offenders, and then into solitary confinement. And that's where a whole new struggle begins—a struggle not to let the hellish conditions overwhelm them. Because before another escape attempt is even possible, they must first survive the nightmare that now haunts their endless nights.
“There was only Furnace. It was our world, our grave, our hell.”
Book two in Alexander Gordon Smith’s Escape From Furnace series, Solitary, picks up immediately following the events of the first book. Alex and his friends have made their escape from Furnace Penitentiary, only to discover they’ve traveled deeper underground with no idea how to get to the surface. When they get caught and land in solitary confinement, they struggle to hold on to their sanity. Never knowing if the Blacksuits or Rats will come for them in the night, or if the Warden will turn them into monsters begins to eat away at their hope and break down their will to survive.
I actually liked this book more than Lockdown. Since the characters had already been pretty well-developed in the first novel, Solitary is filled with loads more action, dangers, and horrors. Smith does a sensational job of making this world come alive that I began to have nightmares about what lies beneath Furnace. Now that Alex and his friends are in the bowels of the prison, readers begin to learn more about Furnace, the Warden, and the other inhabitants of the prison. I really loved this, because Smith doesn’t drag out the mysteries for a very long time, and many of them get answered in this book. Though a few remain, enough threads are given that I’ve been able to deduce what they are to a degree.
“Like I’ve said before, so many times before, I’m not a good person, I’m not a hero. I’m a criminal, a liar, a cheat, a killer. It was them or me and I wanted to live.”
Just when you believe you’ve met all of the important characters of the series, some new characters are introduced that add to the suspense. Most of the book was spent wondering if these new characters were friends or foes, and helped to make Alex and his friends’ situations seem bleaker. Aside from the new characters, readers get to spend time in the bowels of the prison, which is like a different world. Though many mysteries are solved, a few new ones get introduced that will leave you dying to read the next book in the series.
One of the aspects of this series that I love is that the protagonist and his friends aren’t “good” guys. Instead, the prison is filled with people who deserve to be there. What Smith calls into question is whether people who’ve committed crimes deserve to have crimes committed against them in turn. And if so, where do we draw the line between right and wrong. Not only does Alex have the prison and the Warden to contend with, but he’s also in danger from the other inmates. This gives a heightened sense of danger in the book that makes it easy to keep turning the pages, and difficult to put down.
While I recommended this book after reading Lockdown, I definitely recommend it now. This series is packed with just about everything you could want. It’s well-written, the characters are complex, it’s a bit horrifying, and the moral dilemma will leave you pondering the series long after you’ve finished reading it. If you want a series to read on vaction this summer (or anytime), then definitely check this one out. You won’t be disappointed!