Lockdown: Escape From Furnace is the first book in the Escape From Furnace series by Alexander Gordon Smith. I was highly interested in the book just based on the creepy factor of the cover and the reviews from James Patterson and Darren Shan.
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.
This book was already running from the first page. Where we meet Alex Sawyer running for his life, you aren't sure what it is he's running from or what it is that is chasing him, but you can feel your pulse race and you heart pound as if you are right there running with him.
When you first meet Alex in the book he is just 12 years old and he helps set up the background story as to how he ended up in The Furnace, and this part seems to ring true no matter where the story is based. Alex seems to be nothing more than your average bored 12 year old boy who fell into the wrong crowd and starts to bully and beat up other kids for their lunch money. The greed gets to him at a young age. By age 14 Alex is into breaking and entering and robbing peoples houses.
Alex and his friend Toby get a tip from another friend that this one house that is hooked up with all types of electronics will be empty and prime for the taking. Alex and Toby take the "bait" and when they enter the house, they are met with some very scary and dangerous men who are dressed in black business suits, with silver eyes and shark teeth grins. Alex has been set up for a murder that he did not commit and it sentenced to The Furnace, the entire time screaming is innocence, but no one in the courts seem to care.
Alex is then bussed off to The Furnace with a few other boys who also claim innocence, at this point of the story the background of the Furnace is explained and why it came to be, and how the government gave the OK for this "Hell Hole" to be built. Based on the description of this place I was just picturing Crematoria from The Chronicles of Riddick, with the location being under ground.
From this point on the story is about the daily in's and out's of life in the Furnace. Alex tries to make a few friends while there, his cell mate Carl Donvan tried to give Alex two good pieces of advice to make his life a little better “Don't make the mistake of bringing your heart down here with you, there is no place for it in Furnace.” The second being, “You don't have friends in here, you'll soon come to understand that. You get attached to someone, then you'll just lose them. They'll get shanked or they'll jump or they'll be taken one night.” I really felt sorry for Alex and a few of the other boys that were here under false charges, and I did grow to like Alex almost like a younger brother that I know I can never see.
Carl is a great older brother figure for Alex and a few of the other boys that are there, Carl does tend to look out for some of the others even though he puts up a tough guy act just to keep from getting his ass kicked. There are quite a few scary aspect of this story that I don't want to give away or possibly ruin for anyone out there. I did like this one, and it's a great read if you don't mind visual descriptions of some of the things that are in the Furnace.
If you get a bit squeamish or don't like the horror/thriller genre I would advise you to not read this one. I am already looking forward to reading Solitary the next book in this series. I can't wait to see what happens to Alex and a few of the other inmates.
I'm giving this a 3 1/2 sheep