49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
My summary: Alex was like any other boy. Go to school, hang out with his group, and control the monkey bars. But when he started stealing, his life changed for the worse. Out of nowhere, his best friend is murdered, and he is framed for it. he is sent to the child prison: a Hell hole. Worse than Hell. Furnace. When he's there, he is disgusted with the way people live. Kids do hard labor like chipping rock. Gangs kill kids. and he isn't the only innocent person who was framed. But there's no hope of escape. Nobody can escape furnace. Or at least, that's what they all say. But that's only because nobody ever has...
What I felt: Personally, the first time I looked at the cover, I found it just a little disturbing. I thought "eh, I doubt very seriously I'll like that book. But hey--they want to send me a free book? I'll take a free book." So no, I didn't really like the cover. They could have done much better, either artistically or graphically or even with the colors. But that's just me as an artist and a girl :D so I did judge it. boy was that a mistake.
The first sentence of this book seemed to grab me by the neck: "If I stopped running, I was dead." From there, the entire book held me and wouldn't let me go, from that first sentence to the very end. In fact, it held me after the end, too. I distinctly remember my blood racing, heart beating, sweating, adrenalin searing through my veins while I read this book! It was breathtaking and riveting to the last word. And even after the last word. I sat there, staring at the blank page, gasping and panting like a dog from lack of oxygen from reading a book. (that doesn't happen very often, people.)
Characters: The characters in this book were very relatable. They weren't super people, they were real. They handled the horrific experiences of Furnace the same way I would have--screaming in their sleep, crying, throwing up from the horrors.
Writing: the writing was very good--not one of those books where the author just says what he wants to say. Alexander Gordon Smith followed my creative writing teachers' first rule: Show, don't tell. It was an amazing thing to read, the language was very full in vocabulary, and it had good prose. There wasn't any really bad foul language either, like some of the other teen books I've been reading lately.
Recommendation: this book is a thriller, not a horror book, even though it's mildly graphic (mildly. Not really that bad. Descriptive enough to be kinda gross at times... but hey, it could be just because I'm a girl.). It's not the most horrific book I've ever read, but it's certainly not for an eight-year-old. Personally I'd recommend it for anyone fourteen and up (but that's just me).
I hope everyone gets a chance to read this book! It ranked my highest list: up with Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Not only was the writing very good, but the plot was thick and complicated, intricately laid out, and mind boggling, and the characters were real people.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2009
If this was the 1930s, I could easily imagine Alexander Gordon Smith's "Lockdown" as being snapped up and serialized in "Weird Tales" or "Amazing Stories". His fiction has the same scope and appeal that "Conan" author Robert E. Howard's does. "Lockdown isn't great literature; rather, it's a pure pulp story, very much like the Doc Savage and Kull The Conquerer were in their time, and that's a compliment. There's a real talent in being able to pen a breathless page-turner, a book that veers so closely to the absurd at times that I wanted to chuckle even as I was curious about what would happen next. The plot is simple enough - a 14-year-old boy gets caught doing a minor crime, and due to a savage new law put into place, gets sent to Furnace - a prison that's as dark and gritty as it's name, with no hope of paroll. There are savage dogs, unstoppable guards, jaw-droppingly harsh punishments, and blood - lots of blood. Plus, the entire complex is hiding something; the warden seems not-of-this-world, and it takes our protagonist all his wits and strength to avoid the roaming gangs of thugs who rule this inner world. Smith's prose is brutal and cracks with all the force of a whip; and if the novel descends into melodrama a bit too much, it's all for the good. The author has created an alternate reality that's heightened in every respect; perfect reading for teen boys who want something meaty to chew on. I admit, I'm looking forward to the sequel: "Solitary" due out Fall 2010.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Ooh. I still have the chills. This book was delightfully disturbing. It was The Hunger Games, meets The Maze Runner. I found myself on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading it. It's oh-so-very creepy & cruel to children. Which is my only warning, though that's a pretty big warning.
This book was surprisingly clean when it comes to language. After all, a bunch of teenage boys in a prison that the cover describes as worse than hell probably wouldn't have the best language, but the swearing wasn't extreme at all. Mind you, that doesn't mean there wasn't any swearing, but it didn't bother me too much, and I'm quite sensitive to it.
This book may end up giving me nightmares, but it was worth it. I love books with a good mystery.
If you don't mind horror-books, and you liked The Maze Runner, and you're okay with characters that are FAR too young to be dealing with that kind of stuff, then check out Lockdown: Escape From Furnace
This book is creepy, and definitely for older teen readers, but oh-so-very good.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2013
Cover: Its a very cool cover depicting one of the creatures that lurk in the shadows of furnace that come in the middle of the night to take young prisoners. Known as a Wheezer. In the red eye I believe it would be the main character in this book young Alex Sawyer. I love this cover it just makes you want to pick the book up in order to see what that being is.
Summary: 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.
My Thoughts: I picked up this book because of the cover, it drew me in immediately. The story about how furnace came to be and how the kids ended up there is awesome and so detailed, as is the entire story. This book made me fear the Wheezer's like I was one of the prisoners and it just kept me until the last word which I then begged to read the others to find out what would happen to my favorite prisoners. Its a thrill a minute ride and will make you scared and make you feel lucky we do not have a place like furnace in this world, were even death isn't an escape. Awesome read love this series.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2013
This book was the best book I've ever read. I recommend this book too anybody 10 and up if they have a good reading level. I'm ten and I have a really good reading level. I think it's a sy-fy horror book. It's not that scary. My summary: Alex is a normal boy until one day his friend takes money from a kid at school and that leads up to them robbing houses they get caught and were sent to furnace, the worst nightmare for anybody, inhuman creatures lurk in the darkness, they take people away at night and nobody knows what happens to them but Alex soon find out,
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2009
Lockdown / 978-0-374-32491-9
It's 'Next Sunday A.D.', as they say, and the denizens of our near future have been traumatized by youth and gang violence to the point where 'tough on crime' laws have escalated to throwing youths convicted of murder away for life in a for-profit contractor prison built into a recently discovered underground fissure. Once a prisoner of "Furnace" you are there for life (or, more accurately, death) as there are no appeals, no humanitarian checks on the system, and the families of the convicted boys are rather surprisingly unconcerned with ever seeing them again - and though this premise might seem a bit flimsy, it's pulled off extremely well and the overall effect is incredibly immersive.
During the day, the prisoners are put to work at hard labor (cleaning, cooking, expanding the tunnels of their prison to make room for incoming prisoners), and the afternoons and evenings are spent aimlessly trying to stay out of the way of gang warfare. The actual owners and staff of the prison are themselves exceedingly cruel and bizarre to an almost supernatural extent, and this is where most of the horror hinges. The guards are strong, fast, and sadistic, and spend much of their time in the outside world, murdering troubled teens in order to frame our protagonists and send a steady stream of 'new fish' to the Furnace. Mutilated guard dogs with iron teeth and exposed muscles and sinew are regularly released onto the inmate population, and anyone not safely inside their cell is instantly torn apart by the vicious creatures. Most terrifying of all are the bizarre, twisted man-like creatures that patrol at night - wizened, and doubled-over, they move in fast, shaky jerks, and they breathe laboriously through ancient gas-masks sewn into their flesh. The prisoners they choose as victims are taken away... and never seen or heard from again.
Throughout all this, our narrator Alex manages to survive being dropped into this hellish nightmare, and even finds a few friends. In desperation, he dreams of escape, an escape other than flinging himself off the seventh floor balcony as so many others do. And while there are few punishments worse than that reserved for escape attempts (the last boy to try was publicly mauled by the prison dogs), Alex can think of nothing worse than waiting night after night for the gas-masks to come for him.
I am incredibly impressed with the narrative of "Lockdown". The basic premise is set up quickly and efficiently, and we are dropped into the story with hearts still pounding from the opening hook. The author writes with a superb sense of pacing, and the horrific details of the prison unfold naturally as Alex comes to terms with the daily grind of his new life, and the numb terror that surrounds him. The seemingly supernatural nature of his guards is played carefully; we are never certain if the horrors he witnesses are spiritual in origin or some twisted Nazi-esque science at play, and the uncertainty adds to the overall fright and isolation. Most impressive of all, is Smith's ability to make all the boys somehow sympathetic, despite the fact that most of them are, at least, thieves, murderers, or bullies.
I think "Lockdown" will appeal as a novel to many adolescents, but parents should be warned that there is a lot of violence and horror in this novel. Prisoners routinely beat up each other, and quite a few boys die badly (by dogs, by suicide, by monsters). I am immensely pleased to note, however, that Smith did not include even a hint of sexual violence in this novel, for which I am grateful - any such inclusion, even for 'realism', would have been detrimental to the novel, in my opinion. "Lockdown" does end on a 'to be continued' cliffhanger, which I would normally hate, but I can't hold against a first-time author; and I definitely will be buying the sequel when it's written, to find out what happens to Furnace and its unlucky denizens.
NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through Amazon Vine.
~ Ana Mardoll
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2011
One of the best novels in the young adult novels that I have read in a long time. Sometimes simply a string of bad or just so-so novels will cause me to just LOVE the next good one I pick up. Even so, "Lockdown: Escape from Furnace" was absolutely amazing! I only put this book down to work and picked it up afterwards and read till 4 a.m.! I devoured this book as it was full of thrills.
Alex is just a kid, framed for a crime he didn't commit. Only now, after a summer of heinous murders committed by a group of teens, the juvenile system has cracked down. Now you do the crime and you definitely do the time -life, no possibility of parole in a prison buried deep underground in natural rock; no way out. No visitors, no letters from home, no one but the other prisoners. Only Alex didn't do the crime, he and a few other prisoners have all been wrongly convicted.
Not only is the claustrophobia of the Furnace maddening, but there are also violent prison gangs to contend with, evil dog creations that hunt and tear their victim limb from limb, the black suited super strong prison guards, the crazy inhuman mask faces, and the mysteriously evil prison warden. But Alex has a plan, he doesn't plan on rotting his life away in the hell hole, he is going to escape.
I have so many good things to say about this novel it is ridiculous! Wow, this was enthralling, energetic, and even spine tingling. I was on the edge of my seat glued to every word... all the time. Alexander Gordon Smith did the perfect job of balancing, giving enough detail to feel trapped inside Furnace myself but not overkilling the plot with boring detail. I loved his writing style, and I thought the plot was perfectly executed.
The only thing I'm confused about is the country where the novel is set. At the beginning, pounds are mentioned as currency so I assumed Great Britain, but then the judicial system seemed very American and the slang did not seem British at all. I don't think the novel is set in the very distant future either. While this detail was slightly muddy, it didn't much affect the story and I did not find it at all distracting.
One of my favorite details is knowing all the crimes Alex has committed but still seeing through to his innocence once he reaches Furnace. I loved seeing this bully become the savior and I really enjoyed Alex's character development in the story.
What a cliff hanger! I will undoubtedly be picking up the next book in this series and, WOW, I cannot wait to read it! I definitely recommend this read and I think it would be perfect for a teenage boy, no romance, a touch of violence, and raw emotion.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Lockdown: Escape From the Furnace is an awesome read. I really enjoyed the story and the characters. Life in a conservative England where youth crime has got to a point that a series of teenage murder sprees have gotten the people so scared that they demand something harsh must be done about. Well thats where the Furnace comes in. An underground prison that's buried two miles deep in the ground and a maximum security strength fortress sits on top of it. A place that houses teenage murderers (Life imprisonment is the only sentence they receive) and they have to stay their until they die. Prisoners work either in the laundry room, kitchen, custodian duties or are sent to dig more rooms and tunnels.
Young Alex, a youthful offender who's a student by day and cat burglar by night is framed fort he murder of his best friend by some unknown men in black. Whilst in prison he learns that he's not the only prisoner who's been set up. But most of the people in there are hard core criminals who make live unbearable for the rest of the inmates. Even though gang activity is frowned upon and met with severe discipline they run the yard. Alex learns the harsh realities of life in the big house and how he's just living on borrowed time like everyone else unless he can escape...
Fascinating first book in a series of that details the ongoing of life in The Furnace. I can't wait until book two. I have to highly recommend this one because once you pick it up it's very hard to put down.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith
Wow from the start and it doesn't stop! I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to keep up with the
thrill ride that Smith created. This fast paced plot driven novel is exciting and adrenaline pumping!
The Furnace Penitentiary, a prison for children offenders is a mile underground where the novel takes place. There is no other place like it. Offenders enter but never leave. Alex Sawyer convicted of a murder he didn't commit is sentenced there.
What takes place following his arrival to the Furnace is a hugely gripping, intense read you won't be able to put down until the end. Even then you will be craving the next installment. I can't wait and I won't have to cause I just ordered it from the UK! This is easily one of the best book I have read this year!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2010
I learned about Lockdown at a YA Literature conference. The presenter recommended Lockdown to teachers and librarians and claimed it was comparable to Hunger Games. Indeed, it was! I enjoyed reading Lockdown so much that I stayed up late every night devouring the text.
The superb description of the Furnace captivated me. I could envision the claustrophobic sense of the deep and dark world. Describing everything in terms of black, gray, and red created an eerie, desperate tone that kept me reading. The characters were complete and believable. Their hopelessness, and ultimately their undying sense of hope for freedom, captured me. As an exciting read, Lockdown lacked nothing! It certainly was a brilliant read. I cannot wait to share the novel with my students! They will impatiently await Solitary; as will I.