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Escape from Furnace 1: Lockdown

Alexander Gordon Smith

Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith is Book 1 in the Escape from Furnace series, featuring Alex Sawyer.

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Prison Break meets Darren Shan in an unforgettable story of terror, evil and intrigue. Alexander Gordon Smith’s cult teen series has been reissued with the bestselling US covers.

Beneath heaven is hell.
Beneath hell is Furnace.

When thirteen-year-old Alex is framed for murder, his life changes forever. Now he is an inmate in the Furnace Penitentiary – the toughest prison in the world for young offenders. A vast building sunk deep into the ground, there’s one way in and no way out.

But rowdy inmates and sadistic guards are the least of Alex’s problems. Every night an inmate is taken from his cell by guards and returned the next morning changed. Where are they taken and why are they returned covered with scars, acting as though they are not quite human?

In a desperate bid for freedom Alex discovers a horrifying truth – that the Furnace Penitentiary is a place of pure evil, a place where cruel experiments take place every day, where inmates are guinea pigs, where monsters make monsters, and where death is the least of your worries…

Action-packed, gritty and gruesome – this is the perfect read for thrill-hungry teenagers.

Critic Reviews

Framed for a murder he didn't commit, Alex is sent to the depths of Furnace prison for life. Or death. The only hope is escape.The unremitting physical and mental horrors of Furnace, with its skulls, wheezers and blacksuits stalking the darkness, will be addictive and gripping for teenage readers who like their villains really, really bad and the fear factor ramped up high.The start of an adventure series - but not for sensitive souls, I think.

Sally Morris, The Daily Mail
Critic Reviews

Smith is a fantastic writer; the prose is sharp and focused, with descriptions that bring this alternate reality to life. Furnace itself is well conceived as a place; absolutely scary and claustrophobic to match, with evil guards and inmates obviously holding onto their minds by the skin of their teeth.

Critic Reviews

Here is a dark and dangerous tale of false imprisonment and violent brutality. No, it's not Big Brother, but the new novel from the writer of The Inventors. In a more mature mode, this story takes Alex and throws him into the seven pits of Hell. Alex is a burglar and not a nice guy. One night, while trying to steal some computer gear, he and his mate are confronted by a bunch of mysterious heavy-fisted men who shoot his pal and then frame him for the murder. This being a futurisitic society, the justice system has got tough. Built out of rock and buried miles underground is the Furnace, a hot and claustrophobic prison, full with teenage tearaways. Who are the mystery men and why are they framing young people? You'd be a fool to miss finding out in this tense, exciting and terrifying read. 4 stars.

Thomas Murphy, Flipside
Critic Reviews

Faber is coming in all guns blazing with this new series starting in March with Lockdown. It's Faber's teen lead for 2009 and it will be putting the work in to getting plenty of attention. Aimed squarely at a male readership. Smith introduces Furnace-the worst prison in the world, a youth detention centre, a vast hell of an underground fortress and the destination of 13-year-old Alex. He's been on the wrong side of the law but not for the murder he's been accused of: why is he there and how can he escape?

Ones to Watch, The Bookseller
Critic Reviews

Alex Sawyer is no angel but he doesn't deserve to get sent for life to the hellish juvenile prison that is Furnace. It's a subterranean borstal carved out of the bowels of the earth, presided over by brutal black-garbed guards and gasmask-wearing creatures known as "wheezers" that are like something out of one of Clive Barker's worst nightmares.Alexander Gordon Smith employs tight, gutsy language to tell Alex's story, as his hero is framed for murder, gains allies and enemies inside Furnace, and finally, inevitably, plans an audacious jailbreak. This is a punch-between-the-eyes kind of read, punishing in every sense, Gothic in its horrors, darkly claustrophobic. It should be noted, however, that Furnace: Lockdown ends on a cliffhanger. Two projected sequels - subtitled Solitary and Death Sentence - will, one assumes, resolve unanswered questions and bring closure. Readers may find the wait between volumes a long stretch.

James Lovegrove, Financial Times
Critic Reviews

Fears of imprisonment are a strong strain for older readers and Alexander Gordon Smith's Furnace: Lockdown a prison "where death is the least of your worries" is an adrenaline-packed thriller for teens that grumpy boys will gulp down as escapism.

Amanda Craig, The Times
Alexander GordonSmith

Alexander Gordon Smith is the author of the Escape from Furnace series, as well as The Inventors (shortlisted for the Wow Factor competition) and The Inventors and the City of Stolen Souls. He has also written a number of non-fiction books, as well as hundreds of articles for various magazines. He is the founder of Egg Box Publishing, an independent…

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Alexander GordonSmith