Review: Lockdown and Solitary by Alexander Gordon Smith

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. One way in, no way out. Once you’re here, you’re here until you die, and for most of the inmates that doesn’t take long – not with the sadistic guards and the bloodthirsty gangs. 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.

Only in Furnace, death is the least of his worries. Soon Alex discovers that the prison is a place of pure evil, where 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 as 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 the prison break to end all prison breaks. 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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Spoiler Alert: Spoilers are running rampant in this review! Usually I pause between books to write up a review, but as soon as I finished Lockdown, book one in the Escape from Furnace series, I decided to hell with pausing and continued on with Solitary. It was that much of a fun read. I just couldn’t help myself. So, now I have two reviews in one. I’m not combining them, but be warned review two will have spoilers.

Review of Lockdown: Escape From Furnace 1

I can’t begin to describe how nice a feeling it is to read a book such as Lockdown nestled within all the paranormal romance I’ve been reading. I needed a break and Lockdown was the perfect combination of suspense, action, horror, and masculinity that I needed.

At the forefront is a bid for freedom, but also the necessity of friendship and trust. Furnace is awash with antagonists, including rival gangs and horrible creations roaming the halls at night, and the threat of death always looming. The constant underlying darkness and insidiousness helps to build up the already strong friendships developed between Alex and several of his inmates. It doesn’t mean the threat of being turned on and questioning the placement of trust isn’t there from time to time, but it does make for far more enjoyable interactions between characters.

Lockdown is a definite page-turner, both hard to put down thanks to Alex’s plight and the horrible things occuring, whether they are wrapped up in mystery or completely out in the open. I can see quite the number of 13-15 year old enjoying this immensely, but I feel it’s also a fun read for us adults too.

Review of Solitary: Escape From Furnace 2

After the disbelief created by Lockdown’s almighty cliff-hanger (akin to the disbelief created by The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine where it just ends), I couldn’t get my hands on an eBook copy of Solitary fast enough. Even with it taking half an hour and a lot of hassle to finally begin reading, and then losing the desire to read, I squeezed in half the book before bed.

Once again Alexander Gordon Smith has created a page-turner and this one I think I ate up more. I finished Solitary within twenty four hours, granted I had more time to read this time ’round, but I also couldn’t help but fly through it.

The scenery and location has changed, the dynamics presented have also changed, and I felt this added to the voracity of enjoyment. While the general population of Furnace was always broiling with danger, the new area has a far more sinister edge to it, which is elevated more so thanks to how much is focused on the mental rather than physical.

I have begun to question if each novel is going to follow the same sort of scenario where Alex bids for freedom, gets close, and ends up in a new form of hell. This is why I wasn’t surprised nor pressed to acquire the next one straightaway.  However, whether the same scenario is followed I still find myself wanting to discover what happens to Alex and his friends. It’s not only about Alex anymore either, each time Alex advances in his journey we are able to discover far more about his enemies and the horrors that await the inmates of Furnace.

I’m thoroughly looking forward to reading the next instalment, finding out who is behind this nightmare, and once again being swept away with the pace and suspense Alexander Gordon Smith has created

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