Lockdown: Escape from Furnace 1 (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

Lockdown: Escape from Furnace 1 (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

4.6 371
by Alexander Gordon Smith

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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

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Jonatha Basye
Fourteen-year-old Alex gets into trouble—not the kind of trouble that would come back to haunt him but enough to make life interesting. He and his friends beat up kids for money, and have gotten good at pilfering from houses. Alex's deceitful ways catch up with him when a group of men in black frame him for murder. Alex is tried and convicted within a matter of days and is sent to hell on Earth—or rather below the Earth—Furnace Penitentiary. Kids who are sent to Furnace never come out. The men in black torture the inmates, sometimes taking them in the middle of the night only to have them resurface as monstrous creatures whose sole purpose is to kill. Alex knows he must find a way out of Furnace before the men in black come for him, but no one has ever escaped. Will he be the one to find the way out? This novel is Smith's debut in the United States. It is one of those leave-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat thrill rides that will grab the reader right from the start. Teens will appreciate Smith's vivid imagery. His writing is extremely fluid, and he makes the reader feel for the characters, especially the young protagonist, Alex. Readers will be cheering him on from start to finish. Look for the sequel, Solitary, forthcoming in 2010. Readers will be anxious to see where Alex's adventures take him next. Reviewer: Jonatha Basye
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—When Alex Sawyer, 15, is sentenced to life in a horrific underground prison for a murder he didn't commit, his nightmare is only beginning. Ever since the Summer of Slaughter, when gangs such as the Skulls and the Fifty-niners went on a murderous rampage, the government has been throwing away the key on juvenile offenders. "New fish" Alex and cellmate Donovan sleep in pitch-black darkness patrolled by furless dogs with silver eyes and "blacksuits" in gas masks. Unpredictable siren wails keep prisoners in check, forcing them to race back to their cells before the bars close—lockdown—or risk being killed. Alex is also "Skull Fodder," at the mercy of inmate gang members, and he realizes how similarly he once bullied kids in his own school. Smith builds a convincing atmosphere of fear and oppression until one day Alex catches a waft of fresh air from an off-limits area near his work zone. He becomes obsessed with the idea of escaping, and the mood shifts with the glimmer of hope that there could be a way out. Once a plot is hatched, readers will be turning pages without pause, and the cliff-hanger ending will have them anticipating the next installment. Most appealing is Smith's flowing writing style, filled with kid-speak, colorful adjectives, and amusing analogies. Fans of James Patterson's "Maximum Ride" and Darren Shan's "The Demonata" series (both Little, Brown) will find this satisfying fare.—Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—"Beneath heaven is hell. Beneath hell is Furnace." That's 14-year-old Alex's description of the underground prison a mile below the surface of the earth where he and other teen boys are incarcerated for life. The first title (Farrar, Straus, 2009) in Alexander Gordon Smith's new series begins when the protagonist is caught by strange silver-eyed men as he and a buddy are in the midst of a house burglary. Resigned to jail time, Alex is shocked when he's framed by these ghostly black-suited figures who pull guns and murder his pal right in front of him. Pleas of innocence are ignored and Alex lands in Furnace. Gangs bully everyone, the food is disgusting slop, bizarre guard dogs tear inmates apart, and boys are arbitrarily dragged away late at night and return as killing automatons. When all seems lost, Alex and his savvy cellmate devise an escape plan. Last minute calamities bring the plan to the brink of disaster, and a cliffhanger ending definitely carries listeners to the next installment. Using a variety of accents, Alex Kalajzic captures the teen's terrors and occasional black humor as well as the guard's monotone menace. Themes of fear and brutality are frequent and descriptions are occasionally visceral, but none of the scenes are gratuitous. Discussions about the consequence of bad choices, loyalty between friends, and prison life are among the topics that spring from this story, but male audiences will find the fast-paced survival saga most appealing. An additional purchase.—Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT

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Product Details

Demco Media
Publication date:
Escape from Furnace Series, #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


If I stopped running I was dead.

My lungs were on fire, my heart pumping acid, every muscle in my body threatening to cramp. I couldn’t even see where I was going anymore, my vision fading as my body prepared to give in. If the siren hadn’t been hammering at my eardrums, then I’d have been able to hear my breaths, ragged and desperate, unable to pull in enough air to keep me going.

Just one more flight of stairs, one more and I might make it.

I forced myself to run faster, the metal staircase rattling

beneath my clumsy steps. Everywhere around me other kids were panicking, all bolting the same way, to safety. I didn’t look back to see what was behind us. I didn’t need to. I could picture it in my head, its demonic muzzle, silver eyes, and those teeth—like razor wire.

Someone grabbed my arm, pulling me back. I lost my balance, spilling over the railing. For a second the yard appeared five stories beneath me and I almost let myself go. Better this way than to be devoured, right? Then the beast shrieked through its wet throat and I started running again before I even knew I was doing it. I heard the rattle of the cell doors, knew they were closing. If I was caught out here, then I was history. I leaped up the last few steps, hurtling down the narrow landing. The inmates jeered from their cells, shouting for me to die. They stuck out their arms and legs to trip me, and it almost worked. I staggered, lurched forward, falling.

Somehow I made it, swinging through the door an instant before it slammed shut, the mechanism locking tight. The creature howled, a banshee’s wail that made my skin crawl. I risked looking back through the bars, saw its huge bulk bounding past my cell, no skin to hide its grotesque muscles. There was a scream as it found another victim, but it didn’t matter. I was safe.

For now.

"That was close,” said a voice behind me. "You’re getting good at this.”

I didn’t answer, just stared out across the prison. Six stories of cells beneath me and God only knew how many more above my head, all buried deep underground. I felt like the weight of the world was pressing down on me, like I’d been buried alive, and the panic began to set in. I closed my eyes, sucking in as much of the hot, stale air as I could, trying to picture the outside world, the sun, the ocean, my family.

All things I would never see again.

"Yup,” came the voice, my cellmate. "Bet it’s starting to feel like home already.”

I opened my eyes and the prison was still there. Furnace Penitentiary. The place they send you to forget about you, to punish you for your crimes, even when you didn’t commit them. Only one way in and no way out. Yeah, this was my home now, it would be until I died.

That wouldn’t be long. Not with the gangs that eyeballed me from behind their bars. Not with the blacksuits, the guards who ran their shotguns along the railings as they checked the cells. Not with those creatures, raw fury in their eyes and blood on their breath.

And there were worse things in Furnace, much worse. Maybe tonight the blood watch would come, drag me from my cell. Maybe tonight they’d turn me into a monster.

I dropped to my knees, cradling my head in my hands. There had to be a way out of here, a way to escape. I tried to find one in the hurricane of my thoughts, tried to come up with a plan. But all I could think about was how I came to be here, how I went from being a normal kid to an inmate in the worst hellhole on Earth.

How I ended up in Furnace.

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Meet the Author

ALEXANDER GORDON SMITH lives in Norwich, England. Lockdown: Escape from Furnace is his first novel published in the United States.

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