Lockdown (Escape From Furnace #1) by Alexander Gordon Smith

Lockdown (Escape From Furnace #1) by Alexander Gordon Smith

Goodreads Synopsis
Beneath Heaven is Hell. Beneath Hell is Furnace. 

Furnace Penitentiary: An underground hellhole. A place of pure evil with walls soaked in blood. Murderous gangs and vicious guards rule the darkness. Horrific creatures steal people away in the dead of night. And the impossible - escape - is the only hope.


Lockdown is the first in a series of five about Alex Sawyer and his attempt to escape from the place below hell -- Furnace Penitentiary. This prison is where they send all youth who commit heinous crimes. Alex was framed but he was still a criminal, so don't worry he has a tragic back story.

I did actually really like this novel. It had all the elements I was looking for: complex characters, exciting plot that had me on the edge of my seat, weird and scary creatures that I dreamt about for days afterwards. I probably would have given it 5 stars if there had been a female character or better yet, it had been about all female characters.

In all honesty, Alex was my least favourite character. He had good qualities about him and I enjoyed that he felt as if he had to do the right thing, but he could be whiny at times. If something didn't go exactly the way he wanted it to, he would start to mope. At one point he even stopped talking to his friends. He also took a lot of unnecessary risks that could have put him and Donovan in extreme mortal danger. It seemed as if he didn't use his head to think things through at some points, but then he also had the bright idea of how to escape. It was a juxtaposition to me that he could act so immaturely in some instances and be well beyond his years in others.

Zee was interesting and he was a good sidekick to Alex, but he didn't seem to have personality much beyond that for the first little while. He could have been interchangeable with any of the other characters that were in the novel. Zee seemed to be the "in between" -- he wasn't quite Alex and he wasn't quite Donovan, but he also didn't create much of a name for himself. I would have liked to see him be more fleshed out in this novel since it seems as though he will be much more important in the rest of the series.

What can I say about Carl Donovan? He is by far my favourite character in the series. He realizes that there are times you need to keep your head down and times when you need to stand up and fight. I understand why he was so hesitant to get involved with Alex's scheme and also why he tried to make sure that Alex kept his head down around the wheezers. At the same time though, he saved Alex and Zee from certain death by the dogs (which I thought for sure Zee was at least going to be killed at that point). He also saved Alex's hide once more just to seal the deal that Alex really owes him. AND he had all the bright ideas for keeping the Blacksuits distracted while Alex set up the rest of the escape plan. 

The Warden and Blacksuits were scary in the sense that they had legitimate power over the inmates in gen pop, but they weren't as terrifying as the Wheezers. The first night that the Wheezers come and mark the cells I was horrified. I literally had to turn the lights on in my room to make sure no one came and put an "X" on my door and dragged me away to experiment on me. It was exhilarating and I really hope they appear more (and scare me less) in the next novels. I want to learn more about how they were created and what their purpose is overall at Furnace. I mean, it is obvious they experiment on kids there, but where did the Wheezers come from?

The plot was nothing too special, in all honesty. This kid gets sent to prison after being framed for murdering his best friend and then tries to escape. It was all the in between that made it worthwhile. There wasn't too much filler of the day-to-day life of Alex and company in the prison, but the little tidbits we did get made it all the more interesting. I think because the plot moved forward based on what Alex or Donovan were doing during the day made their actual lives in the prison seem that much more interesting.

AND WHAT A CLIFFHANGER. I am so glad that I have the next novel on my shelf because I need to start that one right away.

I'm looking forward to seeing where this story goes and how the characters develop.

Overall: 3.5/5 stars for interesting characters and plot but lack of females.

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