Book Review: Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith

I’m still on a dystopian fiction kick. The last few have been zombie related, but this one is different. It has science fiction and horror elements to it, and without my students’ recommendations I may have missed it. Yet again, I regret not reading it when first suggested to me. (Are you sensing a trend? I certainly am. Note to self: read what people recommend right away.)

Lockdown is the first in the Escape from Furnace series by Alexander Gordon Smith. Like The Enemy, the book takes place in London. Teens accused of murder are not given a fair trial and are thrown in the prison known as Furnace. In this first book, the main character, Alex, is framed for his friend’s murder and thrown in the penitentiary. What he encounters there is unlike anything he could have ever imagined.

I loved the book because of the characters. While yes, he and the others have committed some crimes (Alex is a thief even if he isn’t a murderer, and his cellmate, Donovan, did kill his mother’s boyfriend but after he had beaten her numerous times), they are still sympathetic characters. I was conflicted. I wanted to dislike them, but I couldn’t. Donovan smiled too often and was too humorous. And Zee was another great character that brightened up the gruesome story.

The novel is dark. There were scenes that left me haunted by the images left in my mind, and others that left me reeling and feeling sick like the characters. The author is excellent at describing the conditions of Furnace and the mindset of all the characters.

If you’re a fan of dystopian novels, British YA authors, or dark novels that explore a character’s mind, check out Lockdown and the other books in the series.

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