From School Library Journal
Gr 7-10–Alex Sawyer, 14, is in prison for a murder he didn't commit. He tried to escape the horrors of the underground prison known as Furnace in Lockdown (Farrar, 2009), and now he must battle the nightmare that is solitary confinement. The cells open from the top through a sort of manhole cover, and they are more like coffins standing on end than cells. Alex must fight the monsters and mutants that are his captors and tormentors, including the dreaded wheezers that have gas masks sewn to what should be their faces and the vicious rat and doglike creatures that spoiled their escape attempt. Alex's friend Donavan was thought to be dead, but as it turns out is part of the horrors going on in the infirmary. There are several disturbing episodes when Alex is alone with his thoughts in his cell, and his fatalism or depression leads him to contemplate suicide. The rest of this story is fast paced and packed with nail-biting scenarios, and the gross-out factor is high in many sections. Alex is coaxed into a leadership role by some of the creatures and his friend Zee, who occupies an adjoining cell, and through their attempt at another escape, discovers what is really happening to inmates in the infirmary. This is a dark story with a dark ending, but the gritty action and compelling characters will have reluctant readers enthralled.–Jake Pettit, Thompson Valley High School, Loveland, CO. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In a sequel to Lockdown (2009) that is just as breathlessly paced and soaked with blood, mucus, and less savory substances, teen jailbird Alex’s escape from the futuristic underground prison and experimental lab called Furnace leads first to recapture and then to a second flight that involves frantic chases through dark caverns and tunnels, face-to-face encounters with flesh chewing human-rat hybrids, and visits to a gruesome “Infirmary,” in which prisoners are modified into hideous monsters. Readers who relish lurid imagery and melodramatic prose will continue to be riveted and left eager for the next disgust-o-rama episode. Grades 6-9. --John Peters