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"Fresh and ferocious, Lockdown will hook boys with its gritty, unrelenting surprises." --James Patterson, for Lockdown (Escape from Furnace Book 1)

Alex tried to escape.
He had a perfect plan.
He was almost free. Even felt the cool, clean air on his face.
Then the dogs came.
Now he's locked in a place so gruesome--so hellish--that escape doesn't even matter.
He just wants to survive.

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.

Praise for Solitary:

"Fast paced and packed with nail-biting scenarios . . . This is a dark story with a dark ending, but the gritty action and compelling characters will have reluctant readers enthralled." --School Library Journal

"Once again, Smith has created a thrill ride that will leave the audience wanting more. Smith's prose is fast paced, witty, and sometimes downright terrifying. Some of the images he creates could manifest into a nightmare or two. Teens who are looking for a great thriller/horror story will definitely want to pick up these novels." --VOYA

"Adrenaline-fueled action infuses the narrative as it did in Lockdown (2009), keeping the pages turning. . . . The author knows what keeps his readers locked to the page and delivers it soundly." --Kirkus Reviews

"Breathlessly paced." --Booklist

Praise for Lockdown:

"Fresh and ferocious, Lockdown will hook boys with its gritty, unrelenting surprises." --James Patterson

"Furnace is hotter than hell and twice as much fun! Sign me up for a life sentence of Alexander Gordon Smith!" --Darren Shan, author of the Demonata series

Also by Alexander Gordon Smith:

The Devil's Engine series
The Devil's Engine: Hellraisers (Book 1)
The Devil's Engine: Hellfighters (Book 2)
The Devil's Engine: Hellwalkers (Book 3)

The Fury

The Escape from Furnace series
Lockdown (Book 1)
Solitary (Book 2)
Death Sentence (Book 3)
Fugitives (Book 4)
Execution (Book 5)

225 pages, Paperback

First published July 2, 2009

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About the author

Alexander Gordon Smith

29 books1,124 followers
Alexander Gordon Smith is the author of the Escape from Furnace series of young adult novels, including Lockdown and Solitary. Born in 1979 in Norwich, England, he always wanted to be a writer. After experimenting in the service and retail trades for a few years, Smith decided to go to University. He studied English and American Literature at the University of East Anglia, and it was here that he first explored his love of publishing. Along with poet Luke Wright, he founded Egg Box Publishing, a groundbreaking magazine and press that promotes talented new authors. He also started writing literally hundreds of articles, short stories and books ranging from Scooby Doo comic strips to world atlases, Midsomer Murders to X-Files. The endless research for these projects led to countless book ideas germinating in his head. His first book, The Inventors, written with his nine-year-old brother Jamie, was published in the U.K. in 2007. He lives in England.


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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 838 reviews
Profile Image for Paige  Bookdragon.
938 reviews608 followers
August 3, 2015

This book will mess your mind and emotions.

This little shit is amazing and Smith is a genius for giving you one hell of a roller coaster ride. The suspense never ends in this book and you can't help but hold your breath every now and then because the author wants you dead.

Wait no, sorry that's wrong.

He just wants you to have some difficulty in breathing.

Solitary is the second book in the Escape from Furnace series and if you want a fast-paced book that causes emotional and mental destruction, then go grab Lockdown and read it.

Hope you suffer like I did.

Now excuse me while I read the next book.

Profile Image for Vanessa J..
347 reviews597 followers
February 29, 2016
I'm gonna tell you something: I am not easily scared with books.

... And yet, this book kept me afraid all the time. Because now I finally imagined myself in the characters' place, trapped in a prison for a crime I didn't commit knowing I'll probably die in there.

Just like the first one, this book is incredibly fast-paced. The action never ends, and the thrill just increases with every passing moment. Add to that the fact that each minute the characters have to face yet more horrible things that only get worse and make them hopeless when hope is what they need the most.

I am going to warn you of something if you're interested in reading this, though: If you're looking for a character-driven story, or a story with great characterization, this is not what you should read.

Yes, it's easy to distinguish between the characters, and there's a point where you jut want them to be safe, but this book is all about the fear of being in Furnace. It's all pure adrenaline and suspense, not interactions between the characters (although there are some that will make us pity them).

The cliffhanger in this installment was horrible, and now I am dying to read book 3, but I probably will read it when my classes start and will only have time to read short and fast-to-read books. In the meantime, I thoroughly recommend getting yourself a copy of this book and start the terrible journey it is.
Profile Image for Brandi.
329 reviews801 followers
June 26, 2012
4.5 Stars

This second installment was just as thrilling as the first, and even went deeper into the creepy than Lockdown did! I devoured this book in one sitting, and the only thing stopping me from tearing into the third is ability to get it right now. I had a pretty lengthy review for Lockdown that can be seen here and most of what I said still applies.

One thing that I was bothered by in this book though was the switching of terms (slang?). Sometimes I would be jarred from the story because of this, and I always hate when that happens. It wasn't a big issue, but I definitely noticed it. Mostly from the use of gen pop and general population, but there were a couple of times that I was grateful for the Kindle's ability to tell me what certain words mean.

There was some very heartbreaking scenes in this book, and I was teary eyed a couple of times. Donovan and Zee....oh boy did they break my heart. Donovan for obvious reasons, and Zee because how he held on the whole time. He never thought that he would be left behind, or forgotten, and maintained a gritty determination throughout the story.

We get to have a lot more interaction with the wheezers (shudder) and blacksuits, as well as seeing more of the hell that is Furnace (the infirmary...ugh). The rats. Oh my, the rats. Aside from the creepy, we get to meet a few new boys, and Pete broke my heart. I got pretty frustrated with everyone during their final escape attempt though. How hard would it be to know that you would need to be quiet during an escape attempt?! I mean really. Laughing like loons, and nobody thinks that the sound will carry?!

Be prepared for another big cliffhanger, and I think that Smith is clearly someone who likes to toy with us, because I was cussing him up one side and down the other when I got to the end. ;)
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,945 reviews291k followers
September 11, 2015
This series just plays on all my deepest, darkest fears.

There's the fear of being framed for a crime I didn't commit, of telling the truth and having no one believe me. There's the fear of the supernatural - of things that come and get you after dark. Of friends being taken and changed into something unrecognizable and horrifying.

But with this second installment, there is also a new fear. A claustrophobia caused by being locked in a tiny, dark space. Shut away without companions or even light. Left only with your own thoughts... and just hoping you won't drive yourself mad. The first book was unsettling and creepy, but this book contains an all new brand of horror that is perhaps worse because it is more realistic.

I especially love the complexity of the relationships in Solitary. In Furnace, friendship with the other boys is all they have and, as Alex is about to find out, it can be everything. There is also a sadness to this book that wasn't present in the first. As much as it is a thrill ride, it's also an emotional portrait of loyalty and the lengths you sometimes have to go to for your friends.

I'm excited and scared for the next book.
Profile Image for Cori.
801 reviews133 followers
December 13, 2019
So I'm listening to this book on Audible, and I'm thinking, "We've just spent half an hour listening to Alex's inner monologue whilst he's stuck in a coffin-sized solitary confinement hole. But I haven't been bored once."

*slow clap*

That's really impressive. Truly. I've really enjoyed this series so far. The author stays just north of the horror genre, but still dabbles a toe in it periodically. Overall, the feel is thriller, which I appreciate. I don't typically enjoy grimdark for the sake of grimdark. The characters are flawed, but the reader still roots them on.

My only issue with this series, and I wouldn't necessarily do it justice by calling it an issue, is that the reader becomes invested in the escape plan and is forced to wade through the twists and turns of the book, knowing full well they aren't going to escape anyways. How do I know this? There are five books. I just finished the second one, and judging by the titles alone, I went into this book knowing that the characters would be trapped in the prison at least a couple more books. And that's okay...but my emotions need a break, man! I found myself taking a few weeks between books before I started listening again.

I'd rate this book a PG-13 for violence, grotesque images, peril, and some mild swearing.
Edit: The nurse has to complain about one itsy-bitsy detail. At one point, the main character says that he took a long drink of water in the IV bag they stole and it "brought life back into my bones." Unless they cut open the top of the bag, dumped out the solution, and refilled it with water (which was never specified), this...this...NO. The solution in an IV bag that is similar to water likely would be 0.9% normal saline, which would be a similar comparison to drinking contact solution. The other option is probably lactated ringers.
Moral of the story: don't drink out of IV bags. That's not water.
Profile Image for Brittany.
48 reviews19 followers
September 25, 2014
This series is blowing my mind. It is intense and extremely engaging. Solitary is more of a psychological journey with slightly less action than the first book, Lockdown, but definitely still as gratifying.

We are introduced to new characters in Solitary and learn more about the secrets hidden in the depths of Furnace. While we catch glimpses at these new characters, Alex learns a lot about his self and has to fight many personal demons. His mind is pushed to it's limits, showing him he was just at the gates of Hell in Lockdown, but now he is at the door to Hell's core.

We were given hope, then had it pulled from us just as we started to believe in it. We saw the light, then were doused in flames and darkness. I hope Alex can find the light again.

Profile Image for Diabolica.
413 reviews51 followers
August 19, 2018
I love it when authors include a chapter that brings you up to speed with the plot.

I didn't need it in this case. But I sure appreciated the gesture. And how well it fit with the plot

Solitary continues from Lockdown, like the next episode in a tv serial. As if I had never finished book one, and was flipping a page.

After trying to escape, their plan falls short. Unable to find a safe route out, the boys land back into the Warden's hands.

This time, their cell is the hole.

Solitary confinement.

Step right up ladies and gentlemen to board this one way trip to insanity.
Profile Image for Cindy Newton.
617 reviews128 followers
November 22, 2015
This is the second installment in the series Escape From Furnace, and the hair-raising adventures continue. The book begins where the first left off--the boys have been recaptured after their first failed escape attempt. Keeping their hope alive is how much further they got than anyone expected or dreamed possible. Alex and Zee are thrown into solitary for a month, a length of time that no one has served under those circumstances without going mad. The two boys find ways to maintain their sanity, helped by occasional forays out of their cells with the assistance of a third party who is interested in enlisting their prison-breaking skills.

The action is non-stop, but there is some character development in this book. Alex spends quite a bit of time in his solitary cell, alone with his thoughts, and it helps us get a little further into his psyche. He also discovers the depths of his loyalty, and has some heartbreaking decisions to make. We get a little more insight into the experiments and gruesome activities going on in the laboratories of the wheezers--not enough to completely understand how it all came about, but a little light is shed.

The action is gripping, the mystery intriguing, and the characters are becoming more engaging. My desire to know what the hell is going on in this freaky prison is now merely stoked to a higher pitch, so on to the third book!
Profile Image for NadiaN99.
270 reviews
March 3, 2016
هومممم.....نميدونم ميتونم اينجوري بكم يا نه ولي چقدر اعصاب خورد كنه اين!!!!!
اعصاب خورد كن خوب،اعصاب خورد كن خفن
جدا از اينكه پلات داستان واقعا پيشرفت كرد تو اين كتاب، وحشت بيشتري هم داشت
نه از اون وحشت هايي كه كابوس بياره و اينه
يه وحشتي كه وقتي بهش فكر ميكنم دل و رودم به هم ميريزه
دلم براي كوردن اسميت ميسوزه
چطوري فرنس رو خلق كرده؟!؟!يه همچين چيز وحشتناكي،حتي نبايد بهش فكر كرد چه برسه به اينكه كتابشم بنويسي
و اينكه اون شجاعت نفرين شده ي نويسنده هنوز باقيست و من قلبم و مغزم الان اب لمبو شده ان
Profile Image for Pat the Book Goblin .
423 reviews125 followers
June 29, 2019
Solitary, another great book to the horror of the Escape from Furnace series, begins where the first one left off. I’m telling you, this is one of the best YA series I’ve read in a long time. I don’t think Solitary was as good as Lockdown, but it still was a wild ride!
Profile Image for Ivie dan Glokta.
311 reviews197 followers
July 27, 2015
I have to be honest, I've been on a bit of a binge. I inhaled “Lockdown” and “Solitary” in one day.

It has left me on a downer, though. Smith writes such brilliantly gritty stuff, that I know that the chances of seeing Furnace in any other format except written are slim to none at best. I mean there is so much high quality entertainment in books that slowly trough past few years TV kind of lost it's meaning. Truth be told, it never offered much anyway, but I lost the taste for the watered down Hollywood/Disney version of puppetry they throw at us.

Every single book, every single novel I liked that Hollywood got it's greasy mitts on they've ruined. Why? Because suits that run diagnostics that include moral code, target viewers and god knows whatnot. Tits, ass, heroes and villains that are really good guys deep down are the only things that sell.

Yeah well, Smith writes about things that go bump in the night. He writes about kids doing crimes, parents that turned their backs on them. No absolution from sin, just a new day ahead. Truth be told, authors like this bring more to entertainment than thousands of reality shows and HEA's out there. Because life isn't about do-overs, people aren't good or evil, they are both all the time; the only difference is witch button you push, and are you at the right place at the wrong time. The first few chapters of “Lockdown” say it all. How easy a few wrong choices can impact a person's life, how quickly are we to simply judge. Do something evil, and automatically all your life is evil, everything you ever did was wrong, and your future holds nothing but wrongness ahead.

Ah, the super-inflated human morality and the rancid stench that it spreads over the society gets me every time. Although Alex made some crappy choices, he is not a bad guy. He was a kid, he was stupid and he paid his dues. Even with the monstrosities running around, even with such imaginable cruelty and child abuse depicted in his stories,Smith manages to create a better morally charged story than most of the series shown on TV. Go figure that.

It has acceptance of self, rather than seeking approval of self in the eyes of others. It has a focus on true bonds of friendship, not just fair-weather smiles and popularity. It focuses on rebuilding of broken things rather than simply finding a replacement. It has human contact in all it's imperfect glory, where people are people who make mistakes and grow; they are not just facades on imaginary platforms that cater to hordes of imaginary pilgrims.

At the very first glance, you would think that stuff like this isn't really what people expect to find in a dystopian horror story, but think about it – life sets us up in prisons of our own making, provides our own unique hells to test us and see could we overcome it, escape, survive. In the darkest hour you really know what you're made of, and who your true friends are. No matter where you live, if you are rich or poor, color of your skin, none of it matters. It's something that is universally true and everyone can relate to.

That's why, honestly, I am disappointed when I realize that books like this have a hard time landing an audience, even harder getting a fully supported platform.

Not all of my feelings are lovey dovey about this novel, either. It was action packed from beginning to the end, a style that Smith seems to have and I adore. I hate it when you pick up a book and find about a hundred pages of nothing before some real action starts. It's like watching a soap opera – a character sets the kettle to boil – a month later you have a cup of coffee. The world building offers more clues about Furnace, but you still don't know it all. Kids live, kids die, kids disappear...some of them even come back.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
398 reviews48 followers
January 5, 2017
I thought the first book in this series was rough, scary, horrid..but this book two was deff its match. These are so good. I cant turn the pages fast enough.

Alex tries to escape Furnace one more time, just having the hope of doing so keeps him going hour by terrifying hour in solitary confinement. He forges a new pact with new friends. What will happen this time? How can they try again? Where? Will it work this time?

Read it and find out. Im on to book 3 soon. You just cant tear yourself away from this thrilling series.
Profile Image for Edward Jamieson.
Author 11 books173 followers
February 7, 2015
Boring. Sometimes I could skip one or two pages of reading and then I knew I didn't miss anything. Being locked in a hole, the author makes you to feel everything Alex feels in darkness, but the real actions are very slow. In whole book Alex does only two real tries to escape. And he almost does it.
Profile Image for Book Madness (Elif Tazegül).
269 reviews45 followers
February 23, 2020
Furnace serisine devam ediyoruz arkadaşlar. Bu ikinci kitap. İlk kitabın sonunda olan olayla başlıyoruz. Konunun içeriğinden hiç bahsedemeyeceğim çünkü acayip spoiler olur.
Ama genel olarak ilk kitabı daha başarılı buldum. Bu biraz da aksiyonlu olmasına rağmen daha yavandı. Karakter gelişimi dediğimiz şey bu seride hiç yok. Alex bir adım öteye gidemedi. Belki bunun sebebi ergen olması belki de başka bir şey.
Seriye ne istediğinizi bilerek başlarsanız beğenirsiniz diye düşünüyorum.
Bu kitabın türünü tanımlayamıyorum. Zaten kitap kategorilemede berbatım.
Sonuç olarak tek kitap olarak bakıldığında biraz daha iyi olsa da bir serinin ikinci kitabı olarak yavan kaldı. Hiç şaşırtmadı. Çoğu şey tahmin edilebilirdi. Akış şemasında her şeyi çok rahat bulabiliyorsunuz.
Değişik bir tarz olduğu için farklı bir şey arıyorsanız bu doğru kitap. Benim için 3 yıldızlık oldu.
Profile Image for Michelle.
616 reviews130 followers
January 7, 2010
After putting down Furnace: Lockdown - which effectively stopped right on a monumentally massive cliff-hanger ending - wondering if Alex Sawyer actually, really and truly escaped from the underground prison Furnace, I simply took a deep breath, cracked open Solitary and plowed on ahead. You see, Alex has witnessed horror upon horror during his stay in Furnace and just when the possiblity of escape is dangled right in front of him, he's brought back to grim reality by the evil Warden and his soulless blacksuit minions. That's right, Alex and Zee are caught and placed in solitary confinement - underneath the main prison - leaving the boys wishing for the relative comforts of their old shared cells.

Solitary confinement leaves Alex questioning his own sanity and he quickly begins to once again dream of that elusive hope of escape. When a monstrous creature who used to be a boy just like Alex opens up his cell filling his head with horrible tales of experimentation and savagery, Alex is once again determined to get out of Furnace - no matter what. He just has to figure out a way past the blacksuits, the killer dogs, the wheezers, the panic-inducing Warden, and miles of solid rock.

It's safe to say after having already read Lockdown, I was ready for the horror that can be categorized as Alex's time in prison. Like it's predecessor, Solitary follows Alex and his friends as they face death and agony time and again only to be pushed deeper into the nightmare of Furnace. Alexander Gordon Smith's intense writing effectively grabs you immediately; dragging you along in the wake of Alex's desperate flight through the depths of Furnace. I barely had time to catch my breath between each new harrowing discovery - but that's what makes Alex's story just so compelling. Heck, if I were a teenage boy I'd be eating this stuff up with a fork. And asking for seconds.

And once again, we are back with that same clip-art obsessed cringe-worthy cover artist. But wait you say! It's different! They used blue! And there are targets! Ohhhh... that changes everything. Sadly there is no alternate cover to soften the blow to my eyes.
Profile Image for Charlotte.
6 reviews7 followers
March 22, 2013
I think I just died a little inside.

This is the second book in the Escape from Furnace series (one of my favourites may I add) in which our protagonist Alex, after accused of murdering his best friend, is convicted and sentenced to life in Furnace prison - basically, as close to Hell as you can go. This series features mainly his desperate desire to escape.

I feel so gullible. At the end of the first book when he found the river to escape in I LITERALLY thought he would make it. Again, this time when he used the incinerator I thought EVEN MORE he would make it.

Am I the only one?

And now, after reading the blurb of the next book, Death Sentence, and discovering he will go as crazy as Donovan did (probably) I repeat the beginning of this review, I JUST DIED A LITTLE INSIDE.

I just got so into the characters in this book; I could literally feel his desperation and slow descent into madness.

Also, Donovan, why...
*curls up weeping of emotion*

Seriously though, I loved it. JUST GIVE me the third book and nobody gets hurt!
Profile Image for Natalie.
645 reviews178 followers
January 10, 2017
This was as action packed as the first in the series.
This was as creative and creepy as the first in the series.
This was as "on-the-edge-of-my-seat" as the first in the series.

And yet I couldn't love it as much as the first in the series.

I think there was more repetition - in solitary, out of solitary, in solitary, out of solitary, etc. etc. ETC. - than there was in the first book. I also think the (almost complete) absence of my favorite character, Donovan, was what was really missing for me. I needed that one character to really cling to, but none of them really stole my heart this time around.

I am learning that this is going to be one of those series that will not offer me a cute, happy ending. It doesn't care about my feelings and my emotional attachments.

I plan to keep reading, though, because I actually give a crap what happens to Alex. I am also absolutely intrigued to learn more about the blacksuits, warden, wheezers, and the other experiments gone awry.

4 Stars because it's still so damn original and creeeeeeepy
Profile Image for Ron.
37 reviews2 followers
July 23, 2015
Solitary is the second installment of Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith.

Alex Sawyer failed in his attempt for escape and other than that he was put in solitary confinement, he faces much greater horrors hidden in Furnace's belly. He will meet some unlikely companions, and together they will plan again another strategy for escape.

This volume has so much grittiness in it. I've read worse, but not in young-adult fiction, and this kind of gore is my thing so I definitely enjoyed it. Being a claustrophobic myself, I admit I struggled early. And yes it has that kind of effect that makes the reader feel he/she's inside the story itself.

World building is amazing, from the first volume where the main prison or what they call 'gen pop' or general population is covered to here in the second where we discovers what lies much deeper below the former and the terror inside the vault door.

Pacing is fair, again not too slow and not too fast, and it also has a cliffhanger ending.
February 28, 2020
In this book Alex finally escaped but he has been caught and brought back. he is put in solitary for a month and when he comes out he will be turned into a monster. this book is really descriptive and has lots of surprises. I would recommend this book to people who like a little bit scary books because this is a little bit scary.
Profile Image for Remi.
475 reviews13 followers
April 7, 2017
Four bellissimo stars!!!

So...this is the second book in the series.  And I read the first book a year ago...Don't get me wrong.  I loved the first book.  I kept telling myself to pick up the second book soon, but there are always so many other books that I've been dying to read.  #UnMontonDeTBR Yes.  My TBR pile is probably as high as the highest mountain in Taiwan, 3952m.  Looking forward to become Everest (JK).  The problem is...I keep buying books even though there are a lot of books I haven't even touched on my bookshelves...guilty as charged...

Things I Like About This Book

- the writing 

I want to say that I adore Alexander's writing very very very much.  His writing is delicate.  He depicted how Alex felt so wonderfully that I felt with him.

You can just flip open one page and you'll see a lot of nice sentences.

It was as if this time the darkness had weight, substance.  It pressed down on me, making my arms and legs and neck feel like they were cased in concrete.

from p. 178 -- the page I randomly flipped open

- the Furnace-building 

The scenes are well-built.  There was a map in my mind when I read the story.  This place was horrible!  So horrible that you wouldn't even wanna have a field trip here.

- the plot 

The storyline was thrilling.  I couldn't help turning a page after a page.  Each chapter is short.  I told myself, just one more chapter and I'll go to bed, turned out I read ten more chapters.

Things I Dislike About This Book 

Honestly there's nothing I dislike about it.  However, it's the second book.  It's just not as novel as the first book.  Therefore, I gave it four stars.


I recommend everyone to read this series.  If you like to read things about escape, you should definitely pick this up.  If you are drawn to beautiful sentences, oh, you really really should pick this up.  Trust me, you will like it!
Profile Image for Menglong Youk.
398 reviews54 followers
August 27, 2018
4.5/5 stars

Holy sh*t. Sorry for the language, but this is nuts. Solitary, the second book of Escape from Furnace series, explores my fear of claustrophobia. Following their escape in the first book, Lockdown, Alex, Zee and Gary were recaptured by the warden and the Blacksuits after only a short moment of freedom. (it's not actually freedom if you're in a mile beneath the Earth surrounded by man-made monsters and hideous prison.) Alex and Zee were then separately sent to one-month solitary confinement. They may not die of hunger, but insanity could engulf them soon after they choose to succumb to it.

I have to admit that I love Lockdown more, but Solitary still surprises me with its new scenes. I hate to picture what the Rats look like in my head; in the book, they were described as the failed attempts to turn normal boys into the Blacksuits, resulting in their having no sanity, only hatred and hunger. This description sounds like zombies, but the Rats' history and development, to me, are more terrifying.

The cliffhanger is ugly. I must find out what the story will proceed now. :')

*I immediately reread this book after finishing reading
Profile Image for Red Lace Reviews.
289 reviews56 followers
August 5, 2018
Delving further into the bowels of Furnace Penitentiary, Alex Sawyer desperately tries to hold onto his fleeting sanity. After a failed attempt to escape the underground horrors, being thrown into solitary confinement is a fate worse than death. A hole in the rocky earth becomes his coffin, yet it won't save him from what roams the corridors, in search of warm flesh to eat.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

With this second installment I desperately tried to overcome my primary issue with the series - the suspension of disbelief that it relies so heavily upon. Unfortunately I just can’t get behind the all important plot point of how this prison even exists; world building has been pretty unremarkable in that regard. I mean, how could parents just be okay with never seeing their teenage children ever again, no matter what crimes they’ve apparently committed? I digress. I promised myself this wouldn’t be a rant-review, because in actuality, I enjoy the struggles of Alex quite a bit. Smith adds such raw emotion to the dire situation, and good, descriptive writing I can appreciate. Rather than Alex and his friends emerging into the light of freedom, they’re thrown into solitary confinement in this addition. Who knew general population would be greatly missed? I have to give credit where it’s due; the unpleasantness of solitary at times made my skin crawl. Despite the main protagonists being in their teenage years, little detail was left to the imagination - even their toilet habits were voiced. This is the sort of book I would have loved as a younger reader; pushing the boundaries of the young adult genre with its bleak themes. Perhaps I would have even dismissed the implausibilities in favour of enjoyment, but my mind doesn’t work that way these days.

I can’t say that Alex, as a character, developed a great deal. His way of thinking was much the same as the last - feeling helpless and doomed, followed by a sense of hope and determination. One thing in particular became very much apparent, and that’s the fact his actions wholly depend upon his companions. Without them, and I believe he’d be a very lifeless person. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I am a fan of independence. I often wondered what, if anything, he would have achieved if truly without anyone. He hinted once or twice about suicide, but again I think his relationships give him his every bit of strength. Perhaps he’ll find himself all by his lonesome at some point, as his allies are dwindling in number. A new character was introduced however, and I liked Simon and what he represented.

As for the plot, it was thoroughly entertaining, even if it was a recycled escape and fail trope. By now I know that Smith favours the action-packed scenes that keep readers on their toes, and together with the turbulence of Alex’s mind, it was enough to keep me invested. I enjoyed the change of scenery, and especially the horrors of the infirmary. Questions arose about the mystery behind it all; the black substance that transforms the subjects, the overall goal of creating monsters. There’s an endless supply of prisoners, after all, so what’s the point? To build an army?

In conclusion: Even though I preferred Lockdown a bit more, this one showed no signs of the series slowing down. It’s grim and frightening at times, and I appreciate the expressive way in which the story's told. If only more information was given to properly quench my concerns.

Notable Quote:

I wondered how many voices there were living in my head, and how they could all have such different opinions.

© Red Lace 2018

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April 30, 2015
Personal Response:

I really liked this book. It was a thriller, mystery, and it was intense. I never got bored and had to force myself to keep reading. It was a pretty easy read as well.


"Solitary" is the second book to the series "Escape From Furnace". Alex and Zee got caught trying to escape from The Furnace. The warden put them both in the hole for their first part of their punishment. The hole is a very small cell that is underground with a door on top that can only be opened from the outside. The black suits gave the boys food every two days, that's the only way they could tell how long they have been in the hole. In the hole you are all alone, it's dark, and you don't have all the things you need to survive. Having no one to talk to made Alex go kind of crazy. He was shouting for Zee, but he couldn't hear Alex through the walls. Alex was trying to feel around his cell to map it out in his mind. While doing this he found this space that was small and had this metal piece that was loose. Alex tried to pull the metal piece off but he couldn't get it to budge. He tried for hours and finally he got the metal to pop loose. Alex didn't exactly know what he was going to do with it, but he would use it some how. Then he heard some kind of clank that sounded like it was coming from Zee's cell. Alex took the piece of metal and hit it against the small space he took it from. The noise was so loud in his cell his ears started to ring. A few seconds later he heard the same sound that he heard before. Then he heard a few more clanks after it. Alex knew it was Zee trying to tell him something, he noticed that it was a series of clanks at a time. Zee was using the alphabet to communicate.

Alex was starting to see things, he would imagine Donovan and have conversations with him. Donovan was his friend that the black suits took away before they could escape. One day when Alex was sleeping he was woken up by something opening his hatch. Something lifted him out. It was Simon, he was a failed experiment. He took Alex and Zee to his cave, and told them he wanted to try to escape. They were thinking of ways to escape, and thought they could climb up this rock that they thought led out of Furnace. Alex wasn't leaving unless they had Donovan. They went to this infirmary, where the kids were taken to, and it was too late for Donovan. He was already too far along in the transformation. Donovan was all stitched together and big like they implanted muscles underneath his skin. Alex knew that he wouldn't be able to take him with, but he did know that he had to set him free. Alex took a pillow and smothered Donovan. It sounds bad, but Alex knew it was better than letting the warden use him.

They went back and Alex and Simon started to climb the big rock to see if it lead anywhere. About half way up they heard some noises that an animal would make. They kept climbing and eventually they got to a ledge and found rats. Rats are failed experiments, but worse. They eat pretty much every living thing they find. Alex and Simon raced down the rock, there was no way they would get past the rats. The boys returned to their cells and a few days later, the black suits took Zee. Alex couldn't get out to save him right away but, some time later Simon came to get him. They went to the infirmary and got Zee. The black suits almost caught them, but they hid in a room where they cremate the dead bodies. Alex got an idea. There was a chimney and chimneys go up outside, Alex said that they should climb it. Simon, Zee, and Alex started climbing up the chimney. About half way is when the dogs finally found their scent, and lead the black suits to the chimney. The warden started up the machine, and the boys breathed in the smoke. They passed out and all fell on top of the flames. They warden didn't let them burn too badly, but that was only because he wanted to turn them into monsters.


I would recommend this book to ages 13+ because of the language and situations in the book. I wouldn't really recommend this to any certain gender, but it does lead more towards males. The book is a little more gory so, I feel it would be more appealing to males.
20 reviews
November 19, 2015
Personal response: Solitary was the second book to the exciting series by Alexander Gordon Smith. The book was full of action like I expected, but it was not as exciting as the first. I thought that this one was going to be better than the first but most of it was just Alex sitting in a cell. If the next book in the series gets worse, I would probably stop reading them. Although the book was not as exciting as the first, it shows a lot more of who Alex is. It lets you get to know him a lot better for the next book.

Plot: The group of kids that escaped from the furnace just jumped into what they thought was a river. Alex almost died in that jump. When Gary and Zee finally fished him out of the water, they heard dogs coming. They rode the river until they found an escape route. They were on a ledge and followed it for a long time. They found a small hole and crawled their way down it. Creatures started to chase them as they found light. They ran back into the Wheezers and the warden. The warden sent them to the pit for a month. When they first went in, Alex almost went insane. He had keep himself busy to survive. After the first day, Alex and Zee found a way to communicate. They hit steel grates to pipes used for a toilet. After a while, Alex had something take him from his cell. He was taken to a hidden place and met the creature. His name was Simon. He needed Alex to help find a way out. Simon kept taking Alex and eventually Zee until they had a plan. They take supplies from the Wheezers and use them to climb what Simon called the steeple. Before they had the chance to climb it, Zee was taken from his cell. Just Simon and Alex had a chance to climb it. It was broken off at the top, and they saw a bunch of ‘rats’. The rats were a bunch of experiments that went wrong. Simon and Alex came up with plan B. They would use rats to distract the guards so they can climb up the incinerator. Alex lured the rats down, and the guards thought that there was a breach. After some chaos, Alex and Simon went through the infirmary to the incinerator. They managed to grab Zee and take him with. When they saw daylight through the chimney, the incinerator started. They all crashed down into the fire. Just when you thought that they would be dead, the black suites pulled them from the fire. They were going to be used for experiments.

Characterization: Alex was lucky that he stayed sane. When he was stuck in the pit, it gave him time to think. He saw a lot of darkness inside himself in the beginning. When he thought of Donovan counting on him, he realized that he needed to stay alive. It shows the determination of Alex to keep busy. When he saw Donovan again, Alex was not the same person. His motivation was to save Donovan. He almost gave up when he saw Donovan. The only time he had motivation was when he thought of escaping through the chimney. In the end, everything Alex worked for was gone.

Impacts of setting: For the most part, Alex was stuck inside the pit. It was the small, dark room that prisoners were sent to when they did something bad. That part of the book was the most boring. He was sent there after they were captured when they tried to escape through the river. That is where most of Alex’s self-reflection was happening. The only thing that Alex could do was think. When Simon started to take Alex out of his cell, it was a lot more interesting. Alex ran down dark hallways, following someone he barely knew. It made me feel like around any corner, there could be a black suit. I felt like they should have been caught.

Recommended Audience: This book was interesting in the beginning and the end. The middle of the book was fairly boring in my opinion. This book would be great for teens around the age of 15. It is geared towards a male audience. I am not sure if I would make this the number one book on my list if I could go back in time, but it was a good book.
Profile Image for Jennifer Wardrip.
Author 5 books479 followers
June 14, 2011
Reviewed by Hayes aka Haute Librarian for TeensReadToo.com

Sentenced to life without parole in the hellish prison known as Furnace, Alex has come to know the horrors the prison holds - the black suits with their shark-like grins, the wheezers and their gas masks, the dull red wash of the bloodwatch light.

However, Alex attempted the impossible. He tried to escape.

In this sequel to LOCKDOWN, Alex's jump for freedom into the raging underground river takes him to a new gallery of terrors.

Alex must face the dark hole - solitary confinement - for his breach of the prison's security. Left alone in the pitch black, cut off from human interaction, Alex is left vulnerable to Furnace's tormentors, including the "rats," a group of former Furnace inmates who are closer to animal than human. They, though, give Alex a clue as to what is really going on in Furnace. Where do the wheezers take the inmates they choose during the bloodwatch?

This book is a strong sophomore effort for Gordon's ESCAPE FROM FURNACE series. The descriptive language the author uses gives the reader a full-color picture of what's happening every step of the way, which is very important for an action series like this.
Profile Image for Mitchel Broussard.
236 reviews208 followers
May 27, 2011
Less fun, scary and entertaining than Lockdown, and being about 50 pages shorter than that book (which was already under 300), I'm getting tired of the mini-cliffhangers. And of Alex's snide trying-so-hard-to-be-funny-in-the-face-of-terror narration.

Oh, and really? 3/4 of this thing takes place in a hole. I'll give the author credit for trying, and I know it services the world of Furnace, but C'MON! That was NEVER going to be exciting. Alex's "oh no I'm going crazy, oh no I'm seeing ghosts, oh no I think I ate poop" monologues got real boring real quick.

I'll give Death Sentence a try when it comes out in August on these shores, but if I find the same frustrating one step forward, but two steps back plot, boring characters and failed escape attempts; ta-ta Furnace, forever.

Profile Image for Frank.
746 reviews21 followers
June 12, 2015
I picked up the first book in this series about a year ago, looking for something different, as I read YA from time to time.
The first book was a departure from most of the YA fare, being gritty and dark. The setting of the prison, ranks as harsh an environment that you find in literature.
This second book picks up immediately after the end of book one, with our main characters in the midst of an escape. Not to continue here to spoil anything.
We meet some new characters, and revisit and find out the fate of others from book one.
When I get a yearning I will most likely visit this series again and finish it.
Read at your own risk.
Profile Image for Sade.
309 reviews209 followers
October 10, 2016
you never know what to expect when going into a series. Book 1 may be awesome and subsequent books may taper off but guys so far, this book is still on a winning streak.

Look my emotions were all over the place. Alexander Gordon Smith really does a good job of pulling you into Furnance. You're practically at the edge of your seat, rooting for Alex and gasping at all the (i want to say scrapes but phew it's basically life or death there so its so much bigger than scrapes)- crazy situations he found himself in..I cannot wait to finish this series..honestly hope it goes out with a bang.
April 13, 2017
When I finished the first book in this series, I was left with too many questions on what happened after Alex and his friends jumped into the underground river, hoping to escape the under ground prison called Furnace. I was left wanted more of this story, so I began to read the sequel, Solitary. This book did a great job of picking up right where the first book left off. I was constantly left at the end of every single chapter thinking to myself, how is he still alive? The crazy plot twists and unending suspense definitely is the factor that kept me wanting to read this series.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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