Heavenly Writing Meets the Life From Hell in Escape From Furnace: Lockdown

I’ve noticed a pattern in my literature preferences lately. Each book that I read and love exceeds the one before in brutality and violence. And I just can’t get enough! First I read The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials by James Dashner, which is a post-apocalypic and dystopian series for teens that is so clever and creepy and unique, I never could have come up with his ideas in a million years. Then I read The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness, a teen dystopian series about human life on a different planet. The corruption in this series, namely caused by the Mayor and his supporters, is just the most fascinating and frustrating thing you can imagine. And I love it.

Now, I’m reading the Escape from Furnace series by Alexander Gordon Smith. I read the first book, Lockdown, and I’m about halfway through the second, Solitary. This series isn’t so much a dystopian as it is a horror/thriller. But it has some of the most creepy creatures, brutal practices, and gruesome settings that I’ve ever seen in teen lit. My 18 year old cousin was never much of a reader. Nothing was ever fast-paced or well-written enough to capture his attention. But this series did. He called me up one night after finishing the first book hoping (with desperation in his voice) that I had the second. I didn’t at the time. But after hearing his eagerness, I knew this was something I would like. So I went out and bought both books, and I honestly can’t get enough.

Furnace Peneteniary is a prison for troubled youth, built in the depths of the Earth. It was created after the Summer of Slaughter, when teens went on a murderous rampage. After that horrible season, people were quick to get rid of the troubled youth, even if they were innocent.

Alex, the protagonist, fell into the wrong group of friends and began stealing from kids at school and breaking into houses. But one night, he and his friend Toby discovered that they weren’t alone in the house they were robbing. A handful of Blacksuits, massive men with bulgding muscles, along with a small man wearing a gas mask, showed up and framed Alex for murder. Despite his denial during his trail, Alex was sent to Furnace with no possibility of parole. His life might as well have been over.

They say “beneath Heaven is Hell and beneath Hell is Furnance” and I have no doubt that that’s true. Furnace makes regular prison look like a day at the spa. I don’t want to get into any of the gory, ruthless details, but I will say this. What goes on down there is horrifyingly brilliant: horrifying for the prisioners, brilliant for the readers! So if you like horror novels, or even if you like the first two series’ I mentioned above, you will love this series. Love, love, love.