The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books on the Escape from Furnace series
Not for the faint-hearted, this dramatic British import is both a page- and stomach-turner. . . The pacing is superb, building on the tension as each horror is revealed while saving the ultimate monstrosity for the cliffhanger ending.
Realms of Fantasy magazine on the Escape from Furnace series
This nightmarish start to a new series is unrelentingly bleak, uniquely horrifying, and strangely compelling.
Fresh and ferocious, Lockdown will hook boys with its gritty, unrelenting surprises.
author of the Demonata series Darren Shan
Furnace is hotter than hell and twice as much fun! Sign me up for a life sentence of Alexander Gordon Smith!
Jennifer Robinson's Bookpage on the Escape from Furnace series
A great next choice for fans of The Maze Runner, The Grassland Trilogy. . . or Lord of the Flies . . . Recommended for dystopia, thriller, and horror fans, or anyone looking for a fast-paced, spine-chilling ride.
A YALSA YA Galley Teen Reader
Lockdown is a beautifully written book that builds itself up on violence, suspense, and mystery.
Children's Literature - Toni Jourdan
Alex Sawyer exists in a world of justice gone wrong. Young men who commit crimes of varying degrees are sentenced to an underground penitentiary called the Furnace where they suffer horribly while being barely kept alive. Well, some of them stay alive in other forms, while others are mercifully able to leave this violent world in acts of unmistakable cruelty. This world is bleak, to put it mildly. Alex was framed for his friend Toby's death. He tried to escape twice, but no one escapes from the Furnace. The Warden is a malicious wrangler of a society out of control and you either join his forces or die. The young men are pumped full of a poison referred to as the Warden's Nectar and they are changed physically and mentally into killing machines. They go through painful surgeries and IV's full of nectar returning as either a Blacksuit, or if the experiment did not quite work, a Rat. With the change comes power over the weaker inmates. Throughout all of this they forget where they came from and eventually they forget who they are, names and all. Alex fights the "change" forcing himself to remember his name and with this comes the smallest bit of compassion that allows him to stay "human." As he fights this transformation he views violent images while poison courses through his veins. In one moment he forgets himself and commits an act of violence so horrific that he is forever changed; only he does not become the monster that the Warden has been expecting. In book three of the "Escape from the Furnace" series, readers are led into the pits of hell and beyond to witness the grit and stubbornness of Alex Sawyer who shows the reader that even when facing the devil one person can make a difference. Reviewer: Toni Jourdan
Read an Excerpt
I DIED IN THAT room.
I died there among the corpses in the darkness at the bottom of the world. I died with the fires of the incinerator still burning on my flesh, like the devil himself had his fingers in me. I died with the warden’s howls of laughter ringing in my ears.
But it wasn’t a merciful death. My heart didn’t stop beating. My lungs didn’t stop clawing at the hot air. The white-hot pain didn’t leave my muscles, my skin, my bones. And I didn’t drift into oblivion the way I’d always dreamed death would be. No, I was in Furnace Penitentiary. And here even death doesn’t dare show its face. The Grim Reaper had abandoned me like everyone else, leaving me alone with my nightmares.
They say your life flashes before your eyes when you die. Well, that’s only half true. You don’t see the happy times, the laughter. You only see your failures. Lying there with the thunder of the blacksuits raging above my head and the smell of burning flesh in my throat, I saw the endless mistakes of my life laid bare.
I saw my crimes, the night my old friend Toby and I had broken into our last house. I saw the blacksuits, Moleface pulling the trigger that reduced Toby to a stain on the carpet. I saw my trial for his murder, the way the world turned against me with the crash of a gavel. I saw my first day in Furnace, buried forever beneath the ground.
I pictured Donovan, and Zee, our plan to escape. I saw us smuggling gas-filled gloves from the kitchen into the chipping room and blowing out the floor. I saw our punishment for trying to escape—trapped in the guts of the prison with the rats hungry for our blood, and the lightless coffin of solitary confinement.
I was forced to relive the horror of what they’d done to Donovan. Stripped of everything human, packed with muscle and gristle and something bad that dripped darkness into his veins. Then the horror of what I had done to him. Pressing a pillow to his face until he was no longer a monster, until he was no longer anything. I saw it all, the worst bits of my life paraded in front of me by my own stuttering heartbeat.
I tried to remember something good. Something hopeful. I mean, we’d almost made it after that. Me and Zee and the kid called Simon. We’d almost climbed our way to freedom up the incinerator chimney. I still had that splinter of daylight in my mind. I had seen the sun, and it had seen me, and maybe that was enough. Maybe I could die now knowing I’d broken Furnace, knowing that I had breathed fresh air once again.
Except the death Furnace had in store for me wasn’t a genuine one. The blacksuits had lit the incinerator when we were halfway up, and they had pulled us from the flames with hunger in their silver eyes. And I knew what was coming.
My my, look what the rats dragged in. Get them into surgery, prep the wheezers. We can still use them.
The echo of the warden’s voice, one of the last things I would ever hear. Because I died in that room. Like all the other lost boys of Furnace I would soon be reborn, but I wouldn’t be me. I would become a blacksuit, my heart as dark as my jacket. Or I’d become a rat, trapped in the tunnels of the prison and feasting on those I had once called friends.
But even as I felt myself dragged off to the infirmary I swore that it wasn’t over.
Just don’t forget your name, Monty had told me. I wouldn’t.
I died in that room.
I would be reborn as something else, something terrible.
But I was Alex Sawyer.
And I would have my revenge.
Copyright © 2009 by Alexander Gordon Smith