It is hard to believe that the country has become so afraid of teen gangs that they have built an underground, maximum security prison, which offers no hope of release or parole. No opportunity for rehabilitation. OK. Let's all get past that now, because Lockdown: Escape from Furnace is definitely a page turner, and will appeal to a very large number of teens, in particular boys.
Alex has been framed for the murder of his friend. No one believes he didn't do it. Alex isn't a perfect kid, he's been burglarizing and bullying, but he's no murderer. He is quickly convicted and is sent to Furnace Penitentiary for life without the possibility of parole. He's 14 years old. As Alex is taken to prison, he realizes that many of the inmates have been framed. And they figure out they've been framed by the people who run this private prison.
I was grossed out much of the time as Alex experiences the horrors of Furnace. There is no supervision -- inmates beat on each other and can pretty much do what they want. There are horrible dogs with no skin that are let loose to kill the boys who don't make it to their cells in time. In the middle of the night, horrible creatures with gas masks stitched to their faces randomly chose boys to be taken away, never to be seen again. The food is horrible mush, made from mostly rotten ingredients. I'm sure young boys will enjoy all of these horrible descriptions of this dark, dirty, and dangerous place.
I'm a mom. Along with being sick to my stomach, I felt such heartbreak for these babies. To think that their parents believed the courts and didn't fight for their innocence. That the government had no control or supervision of how these youth were treated. Well, like I said, it's a bit unbelievable, but I'm not the target audience. I know for a fact that these books fly off the shelves. When I purchased Lockdown: Escape from Furnace, the clerk said, "We really sell a lot of these books!"
Lockdown ends in a huge cliffhanger -- well, really it just ends without any resolution -- but there are currently four books in this series, and the fifth comes out in November. I'm not sure I will be going any farther, but I'll definitely purchase the rest for my library. Escape from Furnace would be a great series for reluctant readers, particularly boys.
Published by Square Fish, 2010
Copy obtained from the library
304 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)
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