I think about how things could have been different, if I’d just walked away.
I read Lockdown, the first book of Alexander Gordon Smith’s Escape from Furnace series as book 23 of my #50bookpledge. The Escape from Furnace series is a five book series and is about a special prison for teenagers where unimaginable horrors await the main character. I actually found Lockdown by browsing the YA Dystopia Novels list on GoodReads. Why was I perusing that list? Well, I needed to add books to my #50bookpledge which weren’t romance-centric. The synopsis of this book intrigued me and I added it to my to-read list.
Here is the synopsis of the book from GoodReads:
Beneath heaven is hell… Beneath hell is Furnace!
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.
For most, the idea of escape from Furnace was so unthinkable, so impossible, that they’d probably have dismissed it even if there was a hole in the wall and a staircase marked “To Freedom.”
This book is scary. Furnace is hell. I think that’s the only apt word to describe it. The warden with his soul-sucking eyes, the wheezers with gas masks sewn to their faces, the blacksuits which don’t seem human at all, the giant carnivorous hounds, everything about Furnace is scary. To think that teenagers are the ones locked up in Furnace, and not adults, makes it more nightmare-ish. What makes the Furnace-verse truly scary is that though this is an alternate universe, I can’t help thinking that this alternate universe is possible. Violence and crimes by children are not unheard of. What if someone somewhere in the world is creating “Furnace”?
Now, I know that the reason they put children in Furnace was because of the Summer of Slaughter but I can’t completely blame them for the killings. After all, if their parents, their guardians, society, raised the children properly, there probably wouldn’t have been a Summer of Slaughter. When I think of the characters inside Furnace, they seem like adults to me and not like children anymore. They have gangs inside the prison and there is a power struggle between those regardless of the fact that all of them are living the same nightmare. What kind of upbringing did they have for them to grow up like that?
Even though Alex and Zee and Donovan are technically criminals, I can’t help but root for them. All through out the book, I wanted them to escape. I really wished that they wouldn’t get taken in the middle of the night, they wouldn’t get attacked by the gangs, the blacksuits wouldn’t catch them; I hoped that regardless of all the evils in Furnace, they would be able to escape. It might be weird to root for criminals, but I wouldn’t wish for anyone to experience Furnace. Even adults.
“When you’re locked up in here for life, you learn to welcome the little freedoms.”
On a random thought, I’ve always wondered if there were girls in Furnace. While reading, it felt like there were only boys there. Also, I’m still don’t get why the blacksuits frame children (who I know are not so innocent). Is Warden Cross building an army or are they using the children for some experiments? The latter is probable considering some of the things that happened in the book. Oh well, maybe my questions will be answered in the next book.
For those who’ve read the book and want to read a bit more into the story of Furnace, Alexander Gordon Smith’s mini-story The Night Children is available for reading online. It’s sort of a short prequel to the series where we are introduced to some of the evils that are in Furnace (such as Warden Cross and the wheezers).
Anyway, time for me to go. Until next time dear readers! 🙂