Author: Alexander Gordon Smith
Series: Escape from Furnace, #1
Date(s) read: January 26, 2013
Genre: YA Thriller
Source: Library (Paperback)
Furnace Penitentiary: the world’s most secure prison for young offenders, buried a mile beneath the earth’s surface. 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. Except in Furnace, death is the least of his worries. Soon Alex discovers that the prison is a place of pure evil, where inhuman 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 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 an escape. 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.
Remember my reasons for taking this book out from the library? In case you missed it, a girl had taken out this book one night, and then came back the next morning to return it AND to take out the next three in the series. She loved it so much! Of course, that meant that I had to add to my always-growing pile of books that I take home at the end of any shift. I left it on my kitchen table for a few weeks and then, after ANOTHER girl came in asking about the books, I figured I should get in the game and see if it’s just as addicting as they both said it was.
Holy crap, YES! I’ve never really read a lot of “boy” books but I think that this one definitely falls in the category. It is a thriller through and through with none of the girly things — like romance — that I always look for in books. Nope, not a lick of romance, but I was still totally hooked from the first page! I loved the character of Alex and how he was hell bent on getting out of Furnace — a prison that is lower than low. Or, to paraphrase the book — first you’ve got hell, and then comes Furnace.
This book was an INSANE ride! I loved all of the characters and was rooting for them the whole way through. Things happened that I can’t really talk about without ruining the story, but these things had me laughing, crying, and on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next. The whole thing is so fast-paced that it’s hard NOT to read this book in one sitting — and, with an crazy cliffhanger, you will IMMEDIATELY want to pick up the next book in the series when you finish. I know this — I’ll be making sure the next books are on my holds list, pronto!
Though, be warned, if you do decide to pick this up there are some MAJOR horror elements to it. There are scary scenes, some very gross and crude scenes that will either make you want to puke or that will give you that hollow feeling in your belly. This isn’t a happily ever after book, but a book which takes no prisoners in the end. Think of The Hunger Games, with the whole “kids killing kids” aspect of it — that one didn’t necessarily end on a happy note, did it? Well, this book is just like that one! Furnace is a TERRIFYING place, pretty much a place where if you want to live, you better start working on a plan to get out of there, because you’re either there until you die, or you’re there until you die. There’s no middle ground.
Seriously, I can’t recommend this book enough. Just make sure that you have access to the next books in the series because you will definitely want to read on when you finish! Highly recommended!