Cover image for Lockdown : escape from Furnace
Lockdown : escape from Furnace
Smith, Alexander Gordon, 1979-
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, [2009]

Physical Description:
273 pages ; 22 cm.
When fourteen-year-old Alex is framed for murder, he becomes an inmate in the Furnace Penitentiary, where brutal inmates and sadistic guards reign, boys who disappear in the middle of the night sometimes return weirdly altered, and escape might just be possible.
Reading Level:
1010 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG+ 6.5 12.0 135875.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 8.6 19 Quiz: 49093.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Young Adult
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Young Adult
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

On Order



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.

Author Notes

Alexander Gordon Smith is the author of the Escape from Furnace series. Born in 1979 in Norwich, England, he always wanted to be a writer. After experimenting in the service and retail trades for a few years, Smith decided to go to University. He studied English and American Literature at the University of East Anglia, and it was here that he first explored his love of publishing. Along with poet Luke Wright, he founded Egg Box Publishing, a groundbreaking magazine and press that promotes talented new authors. He also started writing literally hundredsof articles, short stories and books ranging from Scooby Doo comic strips to world atlases, Midsomer Murders to X-Files . The research for these projects led to countless book ideas germinating in his head. His first book, The Inventors , written with his nine-year-old brother Jamie, was published in the U.K. in 2007. He lives in England.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Positing a near-future backlash against teen crime (and teens in general), Smith sets his series opener in a squalid prison for juvenile offenders built deep underground and patrolled by surgically altered supermen with vicious, skinless dogs. Framed (like a suspicious number of his fellow inmates) for a murder he did not commit, Alex is plunged into a desperate struggle for survival amid constant sirens, lurid lighting, nightmares, gang violence, and terrifying encounters with the prison's scary guardians. Smith establishes a quick pace with an opening chase described in staccato prose, closes with a convoluted but explosive escape for Alex and a handful of allies, and in between crafts a picture of prison life less raw and hideous than what is found in, for instance, Adam Rapp's Buffalo Tree (1997), but frightening enough to boost reader interest in sequels.--Peters, John Copyright 2010 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-"Beneath heaven is hell. Beneath hell is Furnace." That's 14-year-old Alex's description of the underground prison a mile below the surface of the earth where he and other teen boys are incarcerated for life. The first title (Farrar, Straus, 2009) in Alexander Gordon Smith's new series begins when the protagonist is caught by strange silver-eyed men as he and a buddy are in the midst of a house burglary. Resigned to jail time, Alex is shocked when he's framed by these ghostly black-suited figures who pull guns and murder his pal right in front of him. Pleas of innocence are ignored and Alex lands in Furnace. Gangs bully everyone, the food is disgusting slop, bizarre guard dogs tear inmates apart, and boys are arbitrarily dragged away late at night and return as killing automatons. When all seems lost, Alex and his savvy cellmate devise an escape plan. Last minute calamities bring the plan to the brink of disaster, and a cliffhanger ending definitely carries listeners to the next installment. Using a variety of accents, Alex Kalajzic captures the teen's terrors and occasional black humor as well as the guard's monotone menace. Themes of fear and brutality are frequent and descriptions are occasionally visceral, but none of the scenes are gratuitous. Discussions about the consequence of bad choices, loyalty between friends, and prison life are among the topics that spring from this story, but male audiences will find the fast-paced survival saga most appealing. An additional purchase.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



NO WAY OUT If I stopped running I was dead. My lungs were on fire, my heart pumping acid, every muscle in my body threatening to cramp. I couldn't even see where I was going anymore, my vision fading as my body prepared to give in. If the siren hadn't been hammering at my eardrums, then I'd have been able to hear my breaths, ragged and desperate, unable to pull in enough air to keep me going. Just one more flight of stairs, one more and I might make it. I forced myself to run faster, the metal staircase rattling beneath my clumsy steps. Everywhere around me other kids were panicking, all bolting the same way, to safety. I didn't look back to see what was behind us. I didn't need to. I could picture it in my head, its demonic muzzle, silver eyes, and those teeth--like razor wire. Someone grabbed my arm, pulling me back. I lost my balance, spilling over the railing. For a second the yard appeared five stories beneath me and I almost let myself go. Better this way than to be devoured, right? Then the beast shrieked through its wet throat and I started running again before I even knew I was doing it. I heard the rattle of the cell doors, knew they were closing. If I was caught out here, then I was history. I leaped up the last few steps, hurtling down the narrow landing. The inmates jeered from their cells, shouting for me to die. They stuck out their arms and legs to trip me, and it almost worked. I staggered, lurched forward, falling. Somehow I made it, swinging through the door an instant before it slammed shut, the mechanism locking tight. The creature howled, a banshee's wail that made my skin crawl. I risked looking back through the bars, saw its huge bulk bounding past my cell, no skin to hide its grotesque muscles. There was a scream as it found another victim, but it didn't matter. I was safe. For now. "That was close," said a voice behind me. "You're getting good at this." I didn't answer, just stared out across the prison. Six stories of cells beneath me and God only knew how many more above my head, all buried deep underground. I felt like the weight of the world was pressing down on me, like I'd been buried alive, and the panic began to set in. I closed my eyes, sucking in as much of the hot, stale air as I could, trying to picture the outside world, the sun, the ocean, my family. All things I would never see again. "Yup," came the voice, my cellmate. "Bet it's starting to feel like home already." I opened my eyes and the prison was still there. Furnace Penitentiary. The place they send you to forget about you, to punish you for your crimes, even when you didn't commit them. Only one way in and no way out. Yeah, this was my home now, it would be until I died. That wouldn't be long. Not with the gangs that eyeballed me from behind their bars. Not with the blacksuits, the guards who ran their shotguns along the railings as they checked the cells. Not with those creatures, raw fury in their eyes and blood on their breath. And there were worse things in Furnace, much worse. Maybe tonight the blood watch would come, drag me from my cell. Maybe tonight they'd turn me into a monster. I dropped to my knees, cradling my head in my hands. There had to be a way out of here, a way to escape. I tried to find one in the hurricane of my thoughts, tried to come up with a plan. But all I could think about was how I came to be here, how I went from being a normal kid to an inmate in the worst hellhole on Earth. How I ended up in Furnace. Excerpted from Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.