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“Below heaven is hell. Beneath hell is Furnace.”

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I read a new book today, Lockdown: Escape from Furnace 1 by Alexander Gordon Smith. He writes children and young adult books. This is the first book in a young adult horror series. I don’t remember where I read about this book (somewhere online) but what caught my interest was that one of my favorite crime authors, James Patterson, raved about the book. I hadn’t heard of it before I read about this, and was surprised because it was published in 2009. So I thought, “Why not check it out?”. It took me about…. I would say a good 3 months or so to finally get around to purchasing it. I kept looking it up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and I was simply too lazy to buy it. So this week I caved and I bought it from Amazon (Kindle for PC version). I wish I would have bought it sooner because it was surprisingly good.

The story takes place in England (I think, although it never really says. They talk about quid as money and stuff like that so…. I assumed). The main character, Alex Sawyer, is your typical, every day juvenile delinquent. He scares the crap out of his fellow classmates, breaks into houses around town, and is just headed down a terrible path. One night, during a routine break-in with his best friend, things go terribly wrong and he ends up framed for the murder of his friend. This is in the future, and there is a prison for children called Furnace. Anytime a child is convicted of murder, they are sent here for life with no hope of leaving. It’s a terrible place, one that everyone has heard of from the news but he has no idea what he’s truly in for. First off, the prison is thousands of feet below the surface of the earth, built into a rock bed. The guards and other prisoners are ruthless, beating up the weaker inmates, and making life unbearable. The psychological damage is almost worse than the physical. The inmates live in constant fear of the warden, guards, and other horrific things that prowl the corridors at night. Alex believes he can find a way out because he refuses to die in this hell.

The book chronicles the monotony of his life in prison and his plans to escape, and does an amazing job at giving you the sense of desperation and fear that he feels on a daily basis.  I suffer from claustrophobia and this book brought that out in me. The description of the descent into Furnace, and the overwhelming, thick, hot air that they breathe makes you feel like you’re there. Alexander Gordon Smith does a great job of describing the situations they live in and what the prisoners have to suffer. It was a great book, and I’m glad to find out that it’s one out of five. The second book, Solitary: Escape from Furnace 2, comes out on December 21st. I have already pre-ordered it from Amazon to download immediately. My only complaint was it wasn’t long enough, but knowing there is more to come helps ease that disappointment. Don’t be fooled by the “young adult” genre, it was intense and extremely entertaining. I highly suggest reading this book (series) if you enjoy horror and suspense novels.

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