Review: Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith.

Saturday, July 28, 2012 0 Comments A+ a-



 Title: Lockdown.

 Author: Alexander Gordon Smith: website, blog, Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

 Series: Escape From Furnace #1: Series’ website.

 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the US and Faber & Faber in the UK.

 Publication date: October 27th, 2009 in the US and March 5th, 2009 in the UK.

 Source: Bought.

 Format: E-book.

 Date read: July 28th, 2012.

 Favorite line(s): Beneath heaven is hell. Beneath hell is Furnace.

 Rating: 5/5 stars! – Favorite.

 Get the e-book/book from: Amazon, B&N, The Book Depository or Kobo.

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.

From Goodreads.

The cover:

I love it!

I don’t think this cover could’ve been any better because it really does give you an idea of what you’re about to start reading.


The storyline:

What I want and will say won’t do this book justice at all. It was pure awesomeness and way better than I expected it to be.

The story is being told from Alex’s point of view as he tells us how he got in that hell hole in the first place and how he lived in there for almost a month or two (or even less, since you can’t keep up with the timing in Furnace…) before deciding he was going to escape.

Throughout the book, we get to know more about Furnace, Alex, the inmates, the Blacksuits, the Weezers, the Dogs and the Warden.

What I loved:

- The story itself is unique, well paced and set in a wonderful and imaginative prison in the depths of earth.

- The writing is smooth and somewhat realistic. You could easily imagine Alex and the others.

- The amount of horror, gruesome, twists and blood in this story made me wish it was a movie. It would’ve made a great horror movie.

- The characters were very reliable (both good and evil ones).

- The story itself was chronologically very well organized. While I was reading, I could easily keep up with things and when they happened. You didn’t need to go back and check for reference…(as it usually happens with horror books which contain flashbacks or re-tellings).

- Instead of having numbers for chapters, there were titles which you could think of as the general idea of that chapter or a key sentence so you could try and guess what’ll happen in that chapter. I thought it was an awesome idea. Small thing but I appreciate it :).

- At the end of each chapter, you’ll find a small cliff hanger which will make you continue to the next chapter and therefore unable to stop reading the book. I thought it was great.

- The ending was simple, blank and yet it had something that was telling me I should get prepared for what to come, because now that I’m used to the way the story goes and to the writing, I suspected something is going to happen.

What I hated:


The characters:

Alex Sawyer: The main character. 14 years old. He’s a criminal but not a murderer. Framed by the Blacksuits of killing his best friend and dragged to Furnace, Alex couldn’t believe how his life had turned upside down so fast. As he tries to get along in this hell, he makes friends, enemies, uncovers the horror in Furnace, fights for his and others lives and decides that there is a way out.

Carl Donovan: He’s one of those unlucky who were brought to Furnace when it opened for the first time. He’s big, strong, never smiling, keeps to himself and he’s Alex’s cellmate. After getting to know Alex, they become friends and you start to notice that he is the voice of reason in the book, always keeping an eye on Alex, saving him, teaching him the rules, warning him and helping him along. As their friendship becomes stronger, Donovan faces his worst nightmares.

Zee Hatcher: One of the three boys who were with Alex the day they took him to Furnace. He slowly begins to trust Alex and then they become close friends. Despite his small size and young age, Zee tries to always protect and help his friends, that is when neither the Blacksuits, the Dogs nor the Skulls are involved.

Other characters worth mentioning are: The Skulls, the Furnace’s gang who terrorizes everyone. They’re bloody, dirty, with bad history full of killings and death. The Blacksuits, the army that makes sure everyone and everything stays in and in there particular places. They’re cruel, deadly and emotionless. The Weezers, my favorite evil characters in this book until I get to know more about Warden, the one who runs Furnace. They come at night and take few of the inmates and drag them to their death. They wear masks, keep flinching and twisting and when they open their mouths, the worst sounds of hell come out.


Favorite quotes:

I have so many, as you’d expect, but here are random three ones.

“I feel like every nerve in my body is being pricked with a red hot needle,” I replied, making Donovan wince. “I feel like someone has skinned me alive and is now toasting my internal organs with a blowtorch.” He actually turned a little pale at that one. “I feel like I’ve been bathed in acid—”   

“Okay, enough,” he interrupted, holding up a hand. “I’m about to eat breakfast.” --- The Warden’s Warning.

I was so tired and scared that my mind was delirious, and the more I lay there thinking about it the more I was convinced that Furnace was Hades, Gehenna, the pit where sinners are sent to rot away for all eternity. It made perfect sense—the warden and his devil eyes, the blacksuits with their superhuman strength, the wheezers that looked like the tortured ghosts of Nazi storm troopers, and the way that poor Monty had been scoured of everything recognizable, forced to become a demon that thrashed and ripped and killed. --- A Distraction.

I hid the gloves underneath the mattress at the base of my bed while Donovan kept watch. I wasn’t too happy about the idea of going up in flames in the middle of the night, but we had no choice. It was either there or in the toilet cistern, and the thought of being blown up while taking a dump was infinitely worse. --- Jumpers.


If you’re into dystopian, horror and/or thriller books than this one is definitely for you. Even if you’re new to these genres and you want to start reading a book that has all three of the above.

I couldn’t tell how much I loved this book no matter how much I wrote, so I’ll just get on with the sequel, Solitary ;).

As a side note: All the while when I was reading Lockdown, I kept thinking about House on a Haunted Hill and it’s sequel. It was a perfect match for this book, in my opinion :).


Geek Girl 👩🏻‍💻| Book worm 📚 | Anime and Manga lover 👊 | Blogger 📝 | Gamer 🎮| A proud introvert 🌸