Escape from Furnace: Solitary by Alexander Gordon Smith

Escape from Furnace: Solitary
by Alexander Gordon Smith

ISBN-13: 9-780374-324926
Publication: December 2010 from Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Rating: 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really, really liked it
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Thrown into solitary confinement for his failed escape attempt from Furnace Prison, Alex Sawyer struggles not to let the hellish pitch-black silence overwhelm him. Before another escape attempt is even possible, he must first survive the nightmare that now haunts his endless nights. Because the hole doesn’t need monsters to do its dirty work – not the usual brutes in black suits and their silver-eyed, fleshless hounds, or wheezing freaks with filthy syringes. All it needs is Alex and his own fears, now that he’s seen firsthand the terrible fate awaiting him and his mates in Furnace’s secret tunnels and labs.

In 2009, Escape from Furnace: Lockdown was one of my favourite books. I was so anxious for the sequel to be released, but at the same time worried it wouldn’t live up to that first amazing book. I shouldn’t have worried – Solitary did not disappoint.

The story picks up immediately where Lockdown left off, and the suspense and action doesn’t stop. The imagery and feeling present is still so gritty, dark and hopeless. Alex is still just as determined to escape Furnace as ever, and he latches on to any hope he can get. Alex doesn’t just sit and except his fate, or let it break him (though he’s definitely damaged. He wouldn’t be human if he wasn’t effected by the horrors of his prison). I missed seeing the day to day interactions of Alex and the other inmates of Furnace, but Solitary gives a deeper look into the Warden, Wheezers and the men in black suits that run Furnace, and terrify the prisoners. There are some other…monsters, I suppose, introduced and the Rats are truly horrific.

Solitary brings us so much closer to understanding how the Warden can get away with how he runs Furance, and I just want to scream at anyone above ground. How can they not realize what is going on in this prison for teenagers? Obviously there is a massive conspiracy, and I so want Alex to be the one to bring it all crashing down. But he’s a criminal…a teenage criminal (for murder, no less), and even though he was framed, who will believe him over the Warden, and the mysterious person who is really in charge? I’m so anxious to see where everything ends up, and how Alex is going to escape being changed into something not-human.

Solitary is definitely a solid second-story, and will chill readers with it’s dark descriptions of Furnace, a place that would rival Hell. This book holds it’s own, and though it sets up things nicely for book three, it in no way feels like filler material. Readers will hope for Alex to succeed in escaping and bringing down Furnace…but Smith takes advantage of the cliffhanger and leaves you breathless and wanting more. Right now.

*Thank you to Macmillon (Farrar Straus Giroux) for sending me a copy for review.