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.
Published August 3rd 2010 by Square Fish (first published October 27th 2009)
The Elliott Review:
I expected this book to be intense, but I didn't expect that it would scare the crap out of me the way it did. This is something utterly original, fast-paced, and horrifying! As Alex learns the ropes of his new life in Furnace Penitentiary, I felt as though I was being sucked into the abyss with him. This book is unlike any prison book that I've ever read. There are so many dark, raw secrets here, but surprisingly none of them involve any kind of prison rape like one might expect. The horrors that Furnace holds are a terror all their own.
After a string of gang murders one summer, the nation decides that a hellish prison for juveniles is the way to deter murders. Alex, after being framed for the murder of his best friend by some of the prison's worst masters, is thrown into this hell hole for life without parole. With the help of his cellmate, Donovan, he learns the ropes - how to navigate the gangs, hard labor, and nightly terrors. Eventually Alex and his friends find a way that could be an escape, and they grasp onto that hope against all the dangers they face.
There are so many disturbing events in this book, and I mean this in a good way. I kept reading and reading kind of like people passing a car wreck keep looking and looking. I wash terrified at what I might see, but I wanted to find out how Alex would deal with each thing he encounters. This book had me riveted from start to finish with the quick flow of writing, likeable characters, and unique content.
Although I think a wide readership would enjoy this, I think that boys would be especially drawn to the fast paced adventure and disturbing horror.
Young Adult Notes:
Violence and grotesque images; no language or sexual content
Source: Thanks to Zeitghost Media and Macmillan Publishing for providing a copy of this book for a fair review.