Solitary: Escape from Furnace 2

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Well, Alexander Gordon Smith, you’ve done it again. Somehow, you’ve managed to get into my brain, and pick out yet another fear of mine, and play on it. This book has everything: claustrophobia, mystery, things that go bump in the night… oh and to add to that, the fear of drowning.  Yay.

The second book in his Furnace series (of 5 books total), Solitary: Escape from Furnace 2, starts where the last one ends. Alex is still attempting to escape the hell that is Furnace prison. In the first book, a boy he befriends tells him about the horrors of solitary. I can’t imagine how awful that would be. I think in normal prison that would be terrible, but in Furnace, it’s a million times worse and you’re likely to die before your solitary confinement is up. That’s exactly what the guards and Warden are banking on. In book 2, Alex is thrown in solitary for his escape attempts. It’s worse than he dreamed of, but he’s still determined to survive and escape. He meets an unlikely ally, and together they set out on their second plan to escape. A new aspect to this book is the sense that Alex has been thrown into the middle of a war waging here in Furnace. A war between those who run the prison, and a mysterious resistance. It doesn’t delve too deep into how it all started, but you get a feel for the desperation everyone feels at getting out of Furnace, and exposing it for what it really is.

While working out the details of the escape, Alex has to face horrible things, things that can’t possibly be real, but are. He’s also forced to make decisions no 14 year old boy should have to make, which makes this experience all the more traumatic to both him and the reader. My brother is 14 and I can’t imagine him having to go through what Alex goes through, so this really hit home for me. It throws you into his mind and you’re able to feel the exhaustion, fear, and frustration with the whole situation.

We also get to dig a little deeper into the mystery surrounding the Warden. He is a creepy fellow, one who seems to suck the life and hope out of whoever is around him. It’s still unclear what’s going on with him, but you find out that he may not be the one calling all the shots. There is obviously much more to this prison than just getting criminals off the street, but what is it exactly? I’m hoping (praying!) that this will be answered in the other 3 books to come.

I don’t want to give too much away, especially if you haven’t read the first one, but you should definitely go out and get these books as soon as you can. This story is one you can’t put down (I read the 2nd book in 6 hours)  and you’ll be dying to know what happens next. Unfortunately, this book ends with a huge cliffhanger and the 3rd installment isn’t out in the United States until August 2011, but you can bet I’ll snatch it up the second it’s put out on shelves.

So thank you, James Patterson, for raving about these books, and thank you, Alexander Gordon Smith, for writing them. They’re seriously awesome.

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