Solitary: Escape from Furnace 2

Solitary: Escape from Furnace 2

4.4 176
by Alexander Gordon Smith

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Alex tried to escape.
He had a perfect plan.
He was almost free. Even felt the cool, clean air on his face.
Then the dogs came.
Now he's locked in a place so gruesome—so hellish—that escape doesn't even matter.
He just wants to survive.

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Alex tried to escape.
He had a perfect plan.
He was almost free. Even felt the cool, clean air on his face.
Then the dogs came.
Now he's locked in a place so gruesome—so hellish—that escape doesn't even matter.
He just wants to survive.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Fresh and ferocious, Lockdown will hook boys with its gritty, unrelenting surprises.” —James Patterson

“Furnace is hotter than hell and twice as much fun! Sign me up for a life sentence of Alexander Gordon Smith!” —Darren Shan, author of the Demonata series

“Fast paced and packed with nail-biting scenarios . . . This is a dark story with a dark ending, but the gritty action and compelling characters will have reluctant readers enthralled.” —School Library Journal

“Once again, Smith has created a thrill ride that will leave the audience wanting more. Smith's prose is fast paced, witty, and sometimes downright terrifying. Some of the images he creates could manifest into a nightmare or two. Teens who are looking for a great thriller/horror story will definitely want to pick up these novels.” —VOYA

“Adrenaline-fueled action infuses the narrative as it did in Lockdown (2009), keeping the pages turning. . . . The author knows what keeps his readers locked to the page and delivers it soundly.” —Kirkus Reviews

VOYA - Jonatha Bayse
Alex Sawyer has been sent to Furnace Penitentiary, a place where teenagers are sent to disappear. Alex and his friends have seem many horrors—the wheezers with their black suits and gas masks, the monstrous dogs that chase them through the corridors of Furnace, and the infirmary where the inmates are turned into creatures that are far from human. Alex wants out, and in a bad way. He and his compatriots have managed to blast their way even deeper into the confines of Furnace, but a way out still eludes them. Alex and Zee have now been sent to solitary, a place where most prisoners lose their minds. In the small confines of his cell, Alex begins to hallucinate, seeing the ghostly image of his friend Donovan who was captured by the warden. Donavan tells Alex to snap out of it, and thankfully he does, recapturing what little sanity he has left to formulate a plan. Will the plan work? There's no way of knowing, since everything in Furnace has a way of going horribly wrong. Once again, Smith has created a thrill ride that will leave the audience wanting more. Smith's prose is fast paced, witty, and sometimes downright terrifying. Some of the images he creates could manifest into a nightmare or two. Teens who are looking for a great thriller/horror story will definitely want to pick up these novels. Look for the third installment in this series to debut in June of 2011. Reviewer: Jonatha Bayse
Children's Literature - Amanda Ledbetter
Alex Sawyer admits that he is not a good person, but he is innocent of the crime that sent him to Furnace Penitentiary. Fearful of the future that awaits him, Alex attempts an escape with three other teen inmates, only to learn they are trapped deep under the prison. When the warden and his black suits catch the boys, Alex and Zee face a punishment of solitary confinement, where psychological terror meets with physical torture and threatens to overtake their sanity. Here, Alex meets Simon, a former prisoner of Furnace whose mutated body gives evidence of the horrific experimentation conducted on the young inmates in the bowels of the prison. Together Alex, Zee, and Simon risk a new escape plan to avoid joining the ranks of the other boys who leave Furnace's infirmary forever changed for the worse. This tale of terror is the second in the "Escape from Penitentiary" series, with action that begins mid-story, keeps a quick pace through the page-turning climax, and ends leaving readers chomping at the bit for the next installment. Told from Alex's first person perspective, readers experience the sights and sounds of Furnace as he does, and the lack of omniscient narrator enhances the horror of the story. The discoveries that Alex and his friends make are gruesome and disturbing, akin to a modern-day telling of Frankenstein, with science and technology being misused to form hideous creatures. Reviewer: Amanda Ledbetter
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Alexander Gordon Smith's second book (Farrar, Straus, 2010) in the Furnace series picks up with Alex Sawyer, Z, and Gary Owen trying to escape the Furnace penitentiary. The attempt fails miserably and Alex and his friend are thrown into solitary, which is basically a hole in the ground. Soon, a boy disfigured by the Wheezers, the gas masked figures who do testing on the inmates, frees Alex to convince him to try to find a new way to escape. Alex must overcome his fears of the Warden, the black suits with their glowing silver eyes, and the Rats, who are failed experiments of the Wheezers, along with his sense of guilt over his life of crime before Furnace. Alex's loyalties are tested when he must choose between his friends and a fate worse than death or escape and the chance to stop the experiments. Smith takes listeners on a terrifying ride through the underbelly of Furnace providing gory descriptions and thrilling chases. Alex Kalajzic brings Alex to life with his British accent. His voices for the villains, especially the Warden, are chilling. Those who enjoyed the first book in the series and fans of novels with gory descriptions will enjoy this fast-paced, suspenseful book. The chilling conclusion will leave listeners anxious for the next installment.—Sarah Flood, Breckinridge County Public Library, Hardinsburg, KY
Kirkus Reviews

After being swept away in an underground river moments after escaping from Furnace Penitentiary, Alex is quickly recaptured by the cruel blacksuit guards and placed in an isolation cell. Though confined, he clings to hope through tapped communiqués with his fellow failed escapee Zee, hallucinatory appearances from his friend Donovan and strange visits from a mysterious creature named Simon. Adrenaline-fueled action infuses the narrative as it did in Lockdown (2009), keeping the pages turning. Alex's forays into self-reflection are less convincing; in Smith's effort to create an antihero, he has given Alex too many flaws to generate much sympathy. Donovan's dialogue is an especially transparent device to create emotional growth. The twisted monsters that patrol the prison are still satisfyingly brutal, however, even though readers now know to expect them lurking around dark corners. While the revelations and ending are not surprising, the author knows what keeps his readers locked to the page and delivers it soundly. (Thriller. YA)

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Product Details

Square Fish
Publication date:
Escape from Furnace Series, #2
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.04(w) x 5.54(h) x 0.68(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

I have a confession.
     I’m not a good person.
     I always said that I only stole from strangers, that I only took stuff they’d never really miss: money and electronics and the sort of things you can’t cry over.
     But that was a lie. I didn’t stop there; I couldn’t. I stole from the people I loved, and took the things that meant the most to them. I didn’t just break into their cupboards and drawers, I broke into their hearts and ripped out whatever I wanted, anything that would get me some easy money down at the market.
     So don’t go fooling yourself that I’m a good person, that I’m an innocent victim, someone who didn’t deserve to be locked up inside the hell on earth known as Furnace Penitentiary. I’m not. Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t kill my best friend Toby when we broke into that house. No, the blacksuits did it, they shot him then they framed me for his murder. But I’ve done things that are just as bad. I’ve killed little parts of people; I’ve cut them up inside, hurt them so much they wished they were dead.
     There isn’t time to confess everything, but I have to get this off my chest. If I don’t do it now then I might never get the chance. Death’s coming up fast. I can feel its cold fingers around my throat.
     Two years ago, when I was twelve, my gran died—had a fit in the middle of the night and swallowed her tongue. Mom was devastated, like any daughter would be. She cried for weeks, she didn’t eat, she hardly spoke to me or Dad. She’d just sit and hold the little silver locket that Gran had left her, gently stroking the scarred and crumpled photos inside.
     I guess I don’t really need to tell you what I did. But I’m going to anyway. I need to.
     I waited till she was asleep one night, ten days or so after Gran had been buried. Then I sneaked into her room and pried that locket from her hand. Ten quid. Ten lousy quid is what I got for it. A handful of dirty coins for the only thing my mom had left of her mom. I watched the man I’d sold it to rip the photos out from inside and chuck them in the bin, and I didn’t feel a shred of remorse.
     Mom knew I was the one who’d taken it. She never said anything but I could see it in her eyes. There was no warmth there anymore, no love. It was like she looked right through me, at a phantom over my shoulder, at the son she wished she could have, the son she’d lost forever.
     See what I mean? I’m not a good person. Don’t forget that. It’ll make my story easier to stomach if you know that I deserved to be punished for Toby’s death, even though it wasn’t me who pulled the trigger—that I deserved to be sent away for life in Furnace, deep in the rancid guts of the planet.
     And that I deserved everything that happened to me there. Because Furnace is no ordinary prison, it’s a living nightmare perfectly designed for people like me. A place where freaks in gas masks—wheezers, as we called them—stalk the corridors at night and carry boys screaming from their cells. Where those stolen kids are brought back as monsters, all rippling muscles beneath stitched skin. And where the same poor wretches are eventually turned into blacksuits, the warden’s soulless guards.
     I saw it happen with my own eyes. I saw it happen to Monty. I saw what he’d become, right before he died.
     So, never let yourself forget that I’m a bad person, that all us cons are, even the “good guys” I met inside like Donovan and Zee and Toby (no, not my old friend I’m supposed to have killed—a new friend with the same name). The four of us thought we’d found a way to escape, blowing a hole in the chipping room floor with gas smuggled out of the kitchen. But nobody can run from their own demons. Donovan was taken by the wheezers the night before we broke, and as for the rest of us—me and Zee and my new friend Toby—well, maybe even Furnace was too good for us. It was certainly too good for Gary Owens, the hard-case headcase who discovered our plan and followed along like a bad smell.
     No, maybe our fate was to find out what horrors lay in the tunnels beneath the prison.
     Because that was our way out: the river that runs deep underground below the bowels of Furnace. We didn’t know where it led to. We didn’t care. Anywhere that wasn’t Furnace was good enough for us.
     Or so we thought.
     Oh yes, beneath heaven is hell, and beneath hell is Furnace. But the horrors that crawl and feast beneath that—now that’s a truly fitting punishment for someone like me.
     So there you have it, my confession. It may not seem like the best time to share it, but it’s funny what races through your head when you’re plummeting into the darkness with only razor-sharp rocks and rapids to break your fall.

Excerpted from Solitary: Escape from Furnace 2 by Alexander Gordon Smith.
Copyright © 2009 by Alexander Gordon Smith.
Published in 2009 by Farrar Straus Giroux.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Meet the Author

Alexander Gordon Smith is the author of the Escape from Furnace series, including Lockdown. Born in 1979 in Norwich, England, he always wanted to be a writer. After experimenting in the service and retail trades for a few years, Smith decided to go to University. He studied English and American Literature at the University of East Anglia, and it was here that he first explored his love of publishing. Along with poet Luke Wright, he founded Egg Box Publishing, a groundbreaking magazine and press that promotes talented new authors. He also started writing literally hundreds of articles, short stories and books ranging from Scooby Doo comic strips to world atlases, Midsomer Murders to X-Files. The research for these projects led to countless book ideas germinating in his head. His first book, The Inventors, written with his nine-year-old brother Jamie, was published in the U.K. in 2007. He lives in England.

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Solitary 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 176 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Sentenced to life without parole in the hellish prison known as Furnace, Alex has come to know the horrors the prison holds - the black suits with their shark-like grins, the wheezers and their gas masks, the dull red wash of the bloodwatch light. However, Alex attempted the impossible. He tried to escape. In this sequel to LOCKDOWN, Alex's jump for freedom into the raging underground river takes him to a new gallery of terrors. Alex must face the dark hole - solitary confinement - for his breach of the prison's security. Left alone in the pitch black, cut off from human interaction, Alex is left vulnerable to Furnace's tormentors, including the "rats," a group of former Furnace inmates who are closer to animal than human. They, though, give Alex a clue as to what is really going on in Furnace. Where do the wheezers take the inmates they choose during the bloodwatch? This book is a strong sophomore effort for Gordon's ESCAPE FROM FURNACE series. The descriptive language the author uses gives the reader a full-color picture of what's happening every step of the way, which is very important for an action series like this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The authour does an excellent job of making you feel what Alex does....its a bit disturbing actually. Fantastic book, I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a fast-paced, gut-wretching story. This will definately leave you on the edge of your seat, wanting more.
Gia-wa More than 1 year ago
This is a series that is unforgettable and you'll never want to put it down! I reccomend it for kids 12 and up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Solitary review  This is my personal review on solitary  Alex and his friends try to escape Furnace Penitentiary. Their escape attempt only lands them deeper in the depths of this prison. Their failed escape puts them in solitary confinement. And that's where a whole new struggle begins  not to let the hellish conditions overwhelm them of being alone in the dark Because before another escape attempt is even possible, they must first survive the nightmare that now haunts their endless night’s, darkness and pure silence perfect conditions for insanity. The characters: Alex(protagonist) : I really respect  this character. He’s been through and yet it seems like he always gets rational again after talking with Zee. He’s been through it all; sadness, weakness, loneliness, anger, rage, suicide thoughts. But he always showed how strong, determined, logical, smart and dependable he can be.  Zee (protagonist): Alex’s friend and accomplice in escape. Despite his small size and weak body, he keeps supporting and trying to protect Alex whenever he can. He is clumsy at times but he he’s very friendly and smart. He goes through a lot too. Donovan (protagonist): Alex and Zee best friend who was taken at the end of Lockdown by the blood watch he returns in this sequel but his presence is neither pleasurable nor much. I have no idea what to think and still having some hope for him he was really likeable character in lockdown.  Gary (antagonist): A new Skull leader who decides to jump with the boys at the end of Lockdown. He’s very hard to understand and get along with. He is a complete psycho path!  The Warden (antagonist): He is the one who runs Furnace. His appearance as described by Alex is that of a soulless being that when he speaks it trembles your soul it feels as if his presence was near you while he’s talking.  - The writing as in the Lockdown was awesome I love how Alexander Gordon smith puts the suspense. It was well paced and everything was in enough detail and yet it had some aspect of mystery. So although there was enough decryption, there were moments when you could sense something was kept hidden it. The suspense was good. I liked how all the settings were well pictured in my mind. - The storyline however is different from the first one. We get to see other aspects and discover more secrets about Furnace and its horrors. - The characters, by which I mean Alex and Zee, somewhat grew up and developed a new sense of responsibility and commitment. They matured in this book in a lot of ways on how they thought and acted. -  I would highly recommend this book but I would recommend reading lock down first. Gutierrez, Luis 
Taxandria More than 1 year ago
A wonderful book, just as action packed and suspenseful as Lockdown. The author doesn't waste time getting right into the story and making you feel like you're right there with Alex. Where's number 3 already?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was ok...but it wasnt THAT good. I went into the book loving the first and it just was a sad attempt to recreat the story. Dont get me wrong, i LOVE the other ones, this was the worst one. Sorry if i dissapointed any of you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so good! Fast paced, fun, and just pure awesome. This series helped me get back into reading! Yay
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am almost a teenager and this book is so fast pace. I cant put it down i give it a 6/5
Anonymous 11 months ago
All y Y
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to agree with you...i qickly git tired of hearing about TH HOLE..... i stopped caring about the hole after the 3rd chapter. There was just to mich sbout th hole and not enough out the characters
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Most of the book is mainly him in the hole.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How was Solitary?How was Solitary? I can truly sat that I loved reading all of Solitary by Alexander Gordon Smith.  It continues Lockdown [the previous book] With Alex’s creative escape plan not quite working and he and Zee are sent to the hole.  Soon they are picked up by a new set of friends with their own faulty escape plan.  Since they need some way to get out Alex comes up with the brilliant idea of climbing the incinerator.  Unfortuanetly it gets turned on and the almost successful group is captured.  It is one of the best cliff hangers I have read in quite some time.  I gave it five stars because of the suspense, how it made you feel what Alex could feel, and the books format. I enjoyed the intense suspense because it left you with many exiting thoughts of is he going to make it, or, what are they going to do to him.  For instance when Alex and his gang are racing down a tunnel away from the rats I was thinking those thoughts.  Another time these thoughts came to me was when the warden sentenced Zee and Alex to the hole.  That’s why I liked the suspense. Furthermore, in this novel one could almost feel what Alex felt as he described his vivid feelings and emotions.  One time was when he was in the hole and thinking about what his family would say to him and I felt like I was hearing his Grandmother reprimand him.  Also when he was climbing the incinerator I could feel his hopes and dreams. Lastly, I loved this book for the format.  I believe it was set up as a cause and effect as Alex would do something and then something worse would happen.  For example, he tried to escape and was punished or when he blew up the tunnel and his newfound friend Ben was killed. For those reasons I think solitary is a fantastic show of Alexander’s skill meant for young adults.  JeremyRCHMS14
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
But the bad thing was it could have been a little longer
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have not read this book but when i read the discription it just ruined some of the book but the first bokk was amazing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story was very fast paced and made it very hard for me to put it down. It is written in a way that really makes you fell what Alex feels. I definately enjoyed it and would recommend it to anybody ho is looking for a fast-paced book. Especially if you are a teenage boy, such as me. It was great and I am enjoying reading the next books.
Booklover0080 More than 1 year ago
Loved this book! Looking forward to reading book 3.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever cillin and scary
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very inventive story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All five books are out already
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok why in the world did they go up the chimeny and not the freaking cave if the rats were gone i mean come on be smart people its freaking comon sense and why didnt he write "my name is alex sawyer" on his arm in blood or something
Anonymous More than 1 year ago