Tuesday, August 23, 2011
REVIEW: Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith
Audience: Young Adult/Teen
Genre: Dystopia, Horror
Series: Escape from Furnace #1
Summary: Alex is a school bully and, along with his best friend, makes a habit of breaking into empty homes and robbing them. But he's never been a killer. Then, after he's set up for a crime he didn't commit, Alex is sentenced to life imprisonment in Furnace, a nightmarish maximum security prison for kids created years ago after gangs of kids and teens went on a killing rampage known as the Summer of Slaughter. Even if he can survive the viciousness of his fellow inmates, how long can he withstand the sadistic guards and unimaginable monstrosities that will surely kill them all? For Alex, the answer is clear: he must find a way to escape the inescapable prison.
Part dystopian thriller and part horror story, Lockdown is relentlessly paced and often quite bleak, even grotesque. Furnace is populated by teenaged gang members; sadistic, blacksuited guards with superhuman abilities; and freakish mutated dogs. Plus there is the majorly creepy warden and the terrifying creatures known as wheezers. And yet, there are also lighter moments to briefly alleviate the grimness. Alex's budding friendship with his cellmate Donovan and another new inmate, Zee, adds depth and a bit of light humor to the narrative. But then the tension and danger are ratcheted up all over again. Lockdown actually reminded me of a teen version of TV's Prison Break (the earlier, good seasons), with a horror twist. It's probably not for everyone, but will likely appeal to fans of Darren Shan, James Patterson's Maximum Ride series, or Dashner's The Maze Runner. Reluctant readers who like a bit of horror and a lot of action will gobble it up.