Lockdown: Escape from Furnace 1

Paperback | August 3, 2010

byAlexander 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 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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From the Publisher

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 wo...

Alexander Gordon Smith is the author of the Escape from Furnace series. 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...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 8.18 × 5.82 × 0.81 inPublished:August 3, 2010Publisher:Square FishLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0312611935

ISBN - 13:9780312611934

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting start to the series! Lockdown is the first in a series of five about Alex Sawyer and his attempt to escape from the place below hell -- Furnace Penitentiary. This prison is where they send all youth who commit heinous crimes. Alex was framed but he was still a criminal, so don't worry he has a tragic back story. I did actually really like this novel. It had all the elements I was looking for: complex characters, exciting plot that had me on the edge of my seat, weird and scary creatures that I dreamt about for days afterwards. I probably would have given it 5 stars if there had been a female character or better yet, it had been about all female characters. Characters In all honesty, Alex was my least favourite character. He had good qualities about him and I enjoyed that he felt as if he had to do the right thing, but he could be whiny at times. If something didn't go exactly the way he wanted it to, he would start to mope. At one point he even stopped talking to his friends. He also took a lot of unnecessary risks that could have put him and Donovan in extreme mortal danger. It seemed as if he didn't use his head to think things through at some points, but then he also had the bright idea of how to escape. It was a juxtaposition to me that he could act so immaturely in some instances and be well beyond his years in others. Zee was interesting and he was a good sidekick to Alex, but he didn't seem to have personality much beyond that for the first little while. He could have been interchangeable with any of the other characters that were in the novel. Zee seemed to be the "in between" -- he wasn't quite Alex and he wasn't quite Donovan, but he also didn't create much of a name for himself. I would have liked to see him be more fleshed out in this novel since it seems as though he will be much more important in the rest of the series. What can I say about Carl Donovan? He is by far my favourite character in the series. He realizes that there are times you need to keep your head down and times when you need to stand up and fight. I understand why he was so hesitant to get involved with Alex's scheme and also why he tried to make sure that Alex kept his head down around the wheezers. At the same time though, he saved Alex and Zee from certain death by the dogs (which I thought for sure Zee was at least going to be killed at that point). He also saved Alex's hide once more just to seal the deal that Alex really owes him. AND he had all the bright ideas for keeping the Blacksuits distracted while Alex set up the rest of the escape plan. The Warden and Blacksuits were scary in the sense that they had legitimate power over the inmates in gen pop, but they weren't as terrifying as the Wheezers. The first night that the Wheezers come and mark the cells I was horrified. I literally had to turn the lights on in my room to make sure no one came and put an "X" on my door and dragged me away to experiment on me. It was exhilarating and I really hope they appear more (and scare me less) in the next novels. I want to learn more about how they were created and what their purpose is overall at Furnace. I mean, it is obvious they experiment on kids there, but where did the Wheezers come from? Plot The plot was nothing too special, in all honesty. This kid gets sent to prison after being framed for murdering his best friend and then tries to escape. It was all the in between that made it worthwhile. There wasn't too much filler of the day-to-day life of Alex and company in the prison, but the little tidbits we did get made it all the more interesting. I think because the plot moved forward based on what Alex or Donovan were doing during the day made their actual lives in the prison seem that much more interesting. AND WHAT A CLIFFHANGER. I am so glad that I have the next novel on my shelf because I need to start that one right away. I'm looking forward to seeing where this story goes and how the characters develop. Overall: 3.5/5 stars for interesting characters and plot but lack of females.
Date published: 2015-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unbelievably Entertaining My boyfriend recommended this to me, and I'm SO glad I read it. It's one of the only books/series that got my heart racing as I read it. It had the perfect amount of creepy, clever and comedy. I literally couldn't stop reading. I read the whole series in three days...
Date published: 2015-06-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Favourite Series! Oh my goodness! I read this book the first time about 4 years ago and immediately read the rest of the books after, now I am collecting the books! If you want a horrifically grotesque book about a normal boy entering a new born penitentiary with mutations and dogs without skin, this is the series for you. Smith somehow brings all elements of a fantastic horror novel into one series and it is truly a masterpiece. I could read this series over and over again...I actually probably will! But remember there is a prequel to read after the series called The Night Children, it ties in all the books and allows you to understand the reason Furnace built Furnace.
Date published: 2015-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from CRAZILY AWESOME Imagine a place: - with gigantic dogs with no skin - men of inhuman speed and strength - sirens that tell time, but are at the same time, warning of death - a warden's whose eyes you can never look into - a prison with no escape You get Furnace. Holy. Crap. That was a GREAT book, so great even great doesn't explain it. Alex, a teenage boy, has been sentenced to Furnace for life for killing his best friend, but he didn't kill him. He was framed by the black suits, men from Furnace of inhuman strength. No he is imprisoned for something he didn't do, in a place with no way out. Even if you somehow found a way out, you'd die. Throughout Lockdown, I always felt like there would be cameras watching. I mean, a prison full of youth who may or may not have committed crimes ? Maybe it's just me, but I kept on thinking of the book Incarceron through this book. Alex didn't give up, and I loved him for it. He was always thinking of ways out, ways to live his life again on the surface of Earth, not underground. Once he had hope to hold on to, boy did he cling to it. I could connect with him in the sense that if it were me in the prison, I would want to find a way out. Except I probably wouldn't have done the things he did. My favourite character though, would have to be Donovan. It seems like he's always having mood swings, sometimes he's pissed off and has a tough guy act, but sometimes he's just drunk on hope. I loved how he started out saying that in Furnace, you don't have friends, but later on we just see him getting more and more attached to Alex. He could be hilarious at times, and dead serious at others. My heart just BROKE when he was taken away. (Yes, I cried) Another surprising character was Monty. I don't know why, but when he was described as being big, and meaty, I thought he would be tough and stand up for himself. I didn't know he would have such an effective role in this book either. If it weren't for him, Alex probably wouldn't be the Skull's bait, but he also wouldn't be alive. I feel like the only thing lacking would be the history of the characters. I really wish we could get to know Alex, Donovan, and Zee a lot better, and hopefully we do throughout the rest of the series. Lockdown made my heart race because of different reasons, laugh, and cry. This book was well written, the plot was amazing, with some twists here and there, and it ran real smooth. I absolutely loved it. Lockdown completely blew me away.
Date published: 2012-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent I actually bought this book last year but didn't get around to reading it until just a few days ago. After finishing it I immediately had to go and get the second and third books in the series in order to keep reading.
Date published: 2011-10-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazingly creepy Lockdown is probably more a book aimed to boys but I think anyone can enjoy it. Yes it's violent and scary and disgusting at times too but following Alex as he's framed for killing his best friend and trying to escape from his new hell is riveting. I can't wait to see what happens to him in the sequel (with the probably telling title) Solitary! ~~ With a name like Furnace, you know this prison is going to be bad. And yes, it is very bad. Furnace Penitentiary was built specifically for young offenders, who quite simply can get away with murder and the government sees the solution as sending them to a prison who-knows-how-deep in the ground, in the dark and surrounded by rock. For life. Doesn't matter what they did, murder or stealing, they're in there for life in hopes of deterring other young offenders. God! It's beyond cruel and it's horrifying to even think about. Now Alex isn't a good kid; he's been breaking, entering, and stealing for a number of years, as well as been the schoolyard bully. But one night, while breaking into a house with his best friend, these huge guys in suits intercept them, kill Alex's friend, and frame him for murder. He's dragged to Furnace in a few hours, surrounded by some horrible kids, but like him, there are also many that were framed and are desperate and frightened of the violence and horrors that now make up their lives. Furnace was one hell of a scary place. It's underground, dark, dank, there's boys fighting and sometimes killing each other and nobody cares. They're all in for life so what difference do a couple murders make anyway? Like out of some horror video game there's creatures roaming the halls at night, dragging the kids away screaming while everyone else keeps quiet and prays they're not next. It was beyond scary! While managing to survive and avoid the attention of the gangs, and somehow keeping his sanity, Alex holds on tight to his innocence and swears to break out of the unbreakable prison. Cue the action, gore, horror, violence! While it sounds pretty horrible Lockdown is a terrific read. This hellish prison filled with bad and good kids. The whole conspiracy thing with framing the kids is still a little confusing to me, I wasn't too clear on why it was happening but it made for an exciting adventure that's for sure. Alex's attempt to escape comes after so much hardship and suffering and sacrifice and it was an adrenaline-filled last couple of pages. Until it ended!! Gahh. Review also here: http://allofeverythingforyou.blogspot.com/2011/07/review-lockdown-by-alexander-gordon.html
Date published: 2011-07-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! This kind of story is usually too scary for my taste. But my cousin, who rarely reads, loved it! So I have to try...and all I can say is WOW. I finished it in under two days. Scary, suspenseful, just the right amount of action.
Date published: 2011-07-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Fun.... But can it sustain the excitement? I find the environment etc., to be very reminiscent of the movie Chronicles of Riddick. An underground prison carved from rock, demonic animals that stalk the prisoners (although in the movie they are mutated large cats, if I remember correctly) and the silver eyes. I've seen a number of favourable reviews and was expecting to be blown away by the first page, unforunately I found the story started off a little slow, but the last 3/4 of the book were a lot of fun. One of the reviews compares it, in part anyway, to Prisonbreak. Let's hope it doesn't follow in it's footstep though. A great first season, but quickly turns downhill with boredom and stupidity. I look forward to the next book. Recommended.
Date published: 2010-08-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible book in a great series Some books just immediately impress you, either by their concept, the writing, or the overall skill in storytelling. This book does all three. Alexander Gordon Smith has started a series that looks to be amazing if this first book is any indication. It has been about 10 years since I got this excited about a series by the first book, and that time it was The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks. The back story. At some point in the near future youth crime reaches epic heights. The populace responds strongly after the summer of slaughter, a period where youth murder rates soar. They create a new super max prison for young offenders, carved below the earth: Furnace. They say that below heaven is hell and below hell is furnace. There is now a zero tolerance policy on youth felons. The story written in the first person narrative style, is the story of Alex Sawyer, a young criminal mostly responsible for break and enters and petty theft. Alex is framed for the murder of his criminal partner. Even though he is innocent, he is convicted and sent to Furnace. He arrives in Furnace, a terrifying dark hole carved from the earth, a place ruled by vicious gangs, and even more brutal guards. A place filled with horrifying creatures who come and steal boys from their cells in the night. A place with no hope and no future. Yet Alex struggles to maintain hope - that hope is escape, something believed to be impossible. Alexander Gordon Smith does an amazing job of capturing the brutality of a prison environment, without going into too much gore. He tells a dark tale without becoming overly depressing. It is very well written. The story is very well written for a first novel. It flows fast and furious, running the gauntlet of emotions, from hope to despair, from joy to gloomy submission. Once you start reading you won't want to put the book down. Unfortunately it races to a cliff hanger finish, leaving you wanting the next book, Solitary, right away, and it is not due out in North America until the fall. This book has made the list of my all-time favourite fiction novels and I highly recommend it. Just as a side note, I love the North American covers and that is what attracted me in the first place; if I had seen the UK covers I doubt I would have read the book. (US covers on left, UK covers on right.)
Date published: 2010-06-24

Extra Content

Read from the Book

NO WAY OUT 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 rattlingbeneath 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.

Editorial Reviews

"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"This nightmarish start to a new series is unrelentingly bleak, uniquely horrifying, and strangely compelling." -Realms of Fantasy magazine"A great next choice for fans of The Maze Runner, The Grassland Trilogy . . . or Lord of the Flies. As for me, I'm looking forward to future books. Recommended for dystopia, thriller, and horror fans, or anyone looking for a fast-paced, spine-chilling ride." -Jennifer Robinson's Bookpage"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 will find this satisfying fare." -School Library Journal"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." -Voice of Youth Advocates"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. . . . Readers will find themselves rooting for even the most violent of the inmates as they try to make their escape and defeat the Furnace." -The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books"Smith establishes a quick pace." -Booklist"Lockdown is a beautifully written book that builds itself up on violence, suspense, and mystery." -A YALSA YA Galley Teen Reader"This is a compelling book." -Ellaina, age 14"The whole book was extremely compelling. The . . . plot was alluring and drew you in with its dark undertones." -Hannah, age 17"Lockdown was a brilliant book that gives vivid imagery to the life of Alex within the Furnace . . . it kept me captivated till the end." -Ryan, age 16"Lockdown is a beautifully written book that builds itself up on violence, suspense, and mystery." -Gabe