Furnace: Lockdown, by Alexander Gordon Smith, is the first of five related books, all in the genre of horror, and all mainly sold in England. The attention in the states for these five books is slowly growing from what I am aware of and they were brought to my attention by a friend. The character's and the placement of the novels are in future Britain in a time where an Indian Jones the 7th installment to the series exists, (oh my!).
Alex Sawyer is a 14 year old boy who has been stealing things for the better half of his life with a learned precision. He has grown up in the time of The Summer Slaughter, where children in gangs went on a murderous rampage, and knows of the basic legend of Furnace Penitentiary but never fathoms a personal visit there himself. Furnace is a prison constructed as a place to lock away the bad children and forget about them forever. When Alex is framed for his friend's murder he is thrown head first into the bowels of Furnace.
Under Heaven is Hell and under Hell is Furnace. Where guards are supernatural, skinless dogs haunt you and try to devour you, and the warden himself just might be the devil...
It's easy to see why the book's attracted me. The fixation on demented creatures that are not of this world, but could be with a bit of imagination, the attention on internal and external struggles, and the basic drive for survival were all factors that kept me flipping pages. Of course the beautiful descriptions and pushing plot helped on top of that to create a story I couldn't stop reading.
Furnace holds a wide variety of boys in all age groups and all backgrounds. The prison is run by regulated rules and sirens, but is also controled by gangs. The inner workings are learned throughout the book, you are not thrown all the rules at face value. You become aware of how everything works as Alex learns alongside his friend Zee. Furnace is a place no one has escaped from and those few that have tried have died. Even those that try to commit suicide find it virtually impossible in the no window, mile under ground prison that holds on to red, black, and gray as their colors.
If you are a fan of Darren Shan then I don't see why you wouldn't find these books compelling, at least that's what I was reminded of when reading this. Alexander Gordon Smith's writing style is descriptive but is not too wordy. He conveys the emotion's of the character's easily for readers and keeps those emotions realistic. Each character has their own personality and sticks to it from beginning to end.
The end of the first book will only leave you wanting to read the second there after. I highly recommend this book and it's sequels to anyone looking for a semi fast pace novel that has a twisted background and takes you deep inside a story line that will leave you wanting more.