Review: Solitary by Alexander Gordon Smith.

Thursday, August 09, 2012 0 Comments A+ a-



 Title: Solitary.

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

 Series: Escape from Furnace #2 : series’ website.

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

 Date of publication: December 21st, 2010 in the US and July 2nd 2009 in the UK.

 Source: Bought.

 Format: E-book.

 Date read: August 9th, 2012.

 Rating: 5/5 stars! – Favorite.

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

Alex Sawyer and his mates should have known there was no way out of Furnace Penitentiary. Their escape attempt only lands them deeper in the guts of this prison for young offenders, and then into solitary confinement. And that's where a whole new struggle begins—a struggle not to let the hellish conditions overwhelm them.  Because before another escape attempt is even possible, they must first survive the nightmare that now haunts their endless nights.

From Goodreads.

The cover:

Poor Alex :s.

I love this cover. It shows exactly how shocked, sad, depressed and lonely Alex felt in solitary.

The storyline:

Usually when the first book in the series is really good, you fin the sequels to be a bit disappointing, at least that’s what I experienced. Not in this series.

I loved this book more than Lockdown, I didn’t think it could get any better but it did! Mr. Gordon blew me away with this book. I was amazed and in love with every aspect of this book.

So, let’s go for a short Summary:

So Lockdown ended with Alex, Zee, Gary and Toby jumping into the river and making a run for it.

Solitary starts from where Lockdown exactly left off. I’m not going to spoil this for you. But here’s what happened in short phrases.

Alex continues to tell us what happened, in detail, after they made the jump. After he barely survives the river, he gets taken to solitary (as you might have guessed from the title) for a month as the Warden orders. In that period of time, Alex, sees and experiences for the first time the real horrors of Furnace. He thought that general population was hell, he had no idea that the real hell is under the cells.

While he’s in solitary, he gets to experience the madness first hand. He finds new friends, looses ones too and gets to meet the worst creatures he had seen yet. Alex goes through the worst of it all and faces a deadly end.

What I loved:

- The writing as in the first one, was amazing. It was well paced and everything was in enough detail and yet it had some aspect of mystery. So although there was enough decryption, there were moments when you could sense something was kept hidden.

- The storyline however is completely different. We get to see other aspects and discover more about Furnace and its horrors.

- The imagination that was used to create such an wakeful prison with completely inhuman and merciless creatures was amazing. There were creatures that just made me look away and check the corridor in the darkness. That doesn’t happen often with any book, which means this book is scary.

- The twists, the gore, the action,, the setting, the blood, the creatures, the darkness, the evil, the unanswered questions, everything in this book is deadly and leaves you with a strange feeling.

- The characters, by which I mean Alex and Zee, somewhat grew up and developed a new sense of responsibility and commitment. They matured in this book in a lot of ways regarding the way they thought and acted.

- The ending left me this close to opening the third book, Death Sentence. It was gripping, awful and sad all at once.

What I disliked:

- The beginning was a bit odd, slow paced and different. I guess that’s because I was expecting a conversation and action from the very beginning. But now I understand very well why it was written the way it was.

It’s not something that bothered me at all once I understood what was going on.


The characters:

Alex: I really respect and love this character. God only knows what he’s been through and yet it seems like he always gets rational again after talking with Zee or other allies. He’s been through it all; sadness, weakness, loneliness, home sic, anger, rage, suicide thoughts. But he always showed how strong, determined, loyal, rational, logical, smart and dependable he can be. I’m afraid for what’s going to happen to him next but at the same time I’m sure he’ll just do it all over again and surprise the Warden.

Zee: Alex’s friend and accomplice in escape. Despite his small size and weak body, he keeps supporting and trying to protect Alex whenever he can. He is clumsy at times but he he’s very friendly and smart. He goes through a lot too.

Donovan: Alex and Zee’s best friend who was taken at the end of Lockdown by the blood watch returns in this sequel but he’s presence is neither pleasurable nor much. I have no idea what to think and I’m still having some hope for him.

Gary: A new Skull leader who decides to jump with the boys at the end of Lockdown. He’s very hard to understand and get along with. He shows no sign of mercy.

The Warden: Pure evil. He’s (or it’s?!) the one who runs Furnace. His appearance alone leaves goose bumps let alone his closeness and presence near you while he’s talking. There’s a lot of mystery about him and his hands are in too deep with what’s happening in Furnace. He shows constant appreciation for Alex and that he wants him to be a blacksuit sooner than later.

Other characters worth mentioning are: The rats which are experiments that didn’t go well. They hunt whatever and whoever is in their way never thinking twice. Simon, Pete and Ozzie who are residents at the pits of Furnace. They’re friendly people with their own stories and history. The wheezers of course, they turn out to be the “doctors” in charge of the boys once the blood watch takes them. And last but not least, there are the blacksuits which are the guardians of Furnace and sort of bodyguards too, the dogs and we get to hear about Alfred Furnace, the mind behind, well, Furnace.

Favorite quotes:

Until that moment, none of it seemed real. Maybe I was so tired I couldn’t process it, it was all too absurd. But right then, with the warden’s decaying breath on my face, I realized that just when things seemed like they couldn’t have gotten any worse, they had. A lot worse. --- Welcome Party.

Because time had no meaning, reality had no meaning, sanity had no meaning. And when everything else has been taken away, you have no meaning. You simply don’t exist. --- Thoughts from the Abyss.

But far worse was the fact that, for several seconds after waking, I couldn’t remember who I was. --- Excerpt: Welcome Back, Old Friend.


I’m doing everything in my power to not go stray from my August TBR and read the third installment in this series, Death Sentence.

I wasn’t disappointed in this sequel at all and I think it is better than the first book when it comes to action and horror.


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