In a dystopian (alternate? future?) England, gang violence has gotten so bad that the state has sanctioned a hellish underground prison for young felons dubbed the Furnace. Once a teen criminal has been sentenced there, it’s for life – with no chance of ever seeing the sun again. One inmate is 15 year old Alex Sawyer. Alex may be a thief and a bully, but he didn’t kill his best friend – he was framed. And his only hope for justice and redemption is escape from a place no one has ever escaped from.
LOCKDOWN is very much a plot-driven action/horror spectacle aimed squarely at teen boys. You’re not going to find a lot of deep exploration of weighty themes here, but you are taken on quite the thrill ride as Alex navigates his way through his new hellish environment and plots his seemingly impossible escape. There are some very scary supernatural elements at work in the prison, and the main motivation to keep reading in spite of the nightmare-inducing setting is to discover just what the warden does with kids that are “taken” from their cells at night, never to return. And of course to hope that Alex and his buddies find a way out.
Being that there are two more books in the ESCAPE FROM FURNACE trilogy, SOLITARY and DEATH SENTENCE (coming in 2010 and 2011 in the US, but already released in the UK), this first book definitely takes over the set-up role, and although there is a measure of closure, the story you came for (i.e. escaping) is most definitely not complete (must get sequels now!).
Find out more about the trilogy on the author’s website. Also, read an interview with the author (where he mentions that dystopian classic 1984 and its "complex relationship between desperation and hope" was an influence on his work) at the publisher's website.
My Rating – 3 Zombie Chickens: Well Worth Reading (especially if you are into horror, or are a teenage boy)