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Monday, May 14, 2012

Escape? Not likely...

Hi there!

Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers…the place to be when you’re in the mood for food of the literary variety.

Last week we had a BLAST celebrating Children’s Book Week…well, at least I did…but I think the feeling was mutual.  A quick reminder on one of the celebratory posts, you still have a chance to win with the SMART IS COOL giveaway from author Dom Testa!  Just be sure to get your entries in by midnight 05/20/12.  Now, this week the fun continues as we celebrate something a little more personal.  Know what it is?  Oh come on, guess at least!  I’ll even give you a hint….there’s a certain widget in the left hand sidebar that counts down to this day on most sites, including my own.  Give up?  Okay, I suppose I’ll let you off the hook.  This Thursday, May 17th, 2012 is MY 3RD BLOGOVERSARY!

Can you believe it?
It’s been THREE YEARS since this bookish journey began and truth be told, I’m still loving every moment of it.  There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t get to delve into another potentially great read and share it with all of you whether it be on the site, through Twitter chatter, via a like on Facebook (a newish endeavor for me), or a pin on Pinterest.  Something is always going on and there’s always someone willing to discuss it with you…and if not, you can sound off on the post like no tomorrow.  It’s an amazing community and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Now being that it isn’t just another week, I really thought about what to post….not that I don’t normally, but you know what I mean.  There had to be SOME significance, some connection….some theme.  A journey, a struggle, obstacles to overcome, triumphs, failures…something that encompassed all of these elements in one.  Then it hit me…I’ve just recently finished (well, sorta…you’ll see) a series that I REALLY enjoyed and I’ve wanted to review; perfect combination, right?  I thought so…especially with the author’s new series coming out U.K. side this month.

It’s a Young Adult series that saw the light of publication first in the U.K., traversed the savage seas and landed right here stateside back in 2009.  It’s dark, it’s twisted, but oh-so-good that although you may need a nightlight for the rest of your days, you won’t regret embarking on this journey for behind the creep-tastic exterior is a story about more than all the things that go bump in the night, but of friendship, loyalty, and as Alex would say, “doing the wrong thing for the right reasons”.  Being that we are covering a series here, there may be a few minor spoilers along the way but I’ll keep them to a minimum and trust me when I say that you’ll still want to read this one for yourself regardless.  Ready for a thrilling ride through a place so far gone, so hidden, that it resides a mile below the surface?  Here. We. Go.  Today’s book of choice and series beginning for the week is…

Alexander Gordon Smith

From the publisher
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.

If the cover doesn’t get you, the description will.  I warned you it was dark but there are many pockets of hidden light you won’t see coming (just as in the teasers from the final book shared last week).  Furnace is the place NO ONE wants to find themselves let alone someone wrongly committed of a crime and we’re not talking in the “every-prisoner-is-innocent” Shawshank Redemption way either; we’re talking straight forward honesty.  He didn’t do it…and yet here he is, Alex Sawyer, latest “convict” to land in the dregs created for the worst of the worst children.  Yes.  I said children.  The whole prison in fact is children (well, the inmates at least…though the others…that’s a story for another post)…every inmate, a young boy swallowed whole by lady justice and left to rot for the remainder of their days; or at least that’s how it seems.  (dun dun dunnnn…)

While making my way through this first installment, I was equal parts appalled and intrigued.  First, I couldn’t believe that someone created this world within our current world that was so backwards in some ways and forward thinking (albeit evil forward thinking) in others…and yet they had.  Let’s just say I don’t know if I’d want to venture into the author’s creative mind unescorted.  *-*  Once that was processed, I was intrigued by several of the concepts presented.  Man’s inhumanity to man.  Fight or flight as a way of survival in the most extreme ways possible.  The truth in all the evil shown (some even with back up documentation in a way) and yet how brightly hope can shine even if it’s as small as a grain of sand…or a chip in a fortress meant to be impervious to penetration.

That ray of hope seeping through all the darkness takes on many shapes throughout this journey.  In this leg of the trip, I’d define it as the new friends he makes as well as a breath of fresh air (pun totally intended!  For those who’ve read it of course…).  Leader of this “sunshine pack” would be Donovan.  He’s one of the many that was actually guilty of a crime but does that make him a bad person through and through?  From what I’ve seen, no (though at times his ability to ignore what’s happening in order to preserve his or his friends skins was infuriating at times), but if the Warden has anything to do with it, he will be VERY soon.  His ability to lighten up a darkened mood as well as hunker down when hunkering is called for, puts him up for any “Bestie of the Year” awards you may consider handing out.  In fact, he saves Alex more than a time or two from actual physical danger as well as mental collapse making him a key player in this game in more ways than one. 

Next up, Zee.  He’s one of the guys that probably could have gone either way in the beginning; thank goodness he was sentenced to heck-under-earth when Alex was too.  The connections he makes initially are what serve to keep him grounded; his feisty, cunning and yet caring nature will serve him well throughout the trials to come.  He’s whip smart too…coming up with several solutions to otherwise unsolvable problems. How so?  You’ll see…and me amazed by how someone dealt such a bad hand in life can still be so compassionate; more to come on this guy.  Then we have our main star, Alex Sawyer.

Alex is a hard one to figure out.  He landed in Furnace for a crime he didn’t commit but his track record wasn’t bright and shiny in the least.  Petty crimes, stolen goods, bullying and the like…they soiled his otherwise good name like so much nectar on a white suit preventing him from being the kid he ought to be and turning him into fodder for the Warden’s henchmen.  (Oh, sorry…you don’t know about nectar yet….ignore that.  *-*) He’s been thrown alive down a black hole with no chance to escape…at least that’s what we’re led to believe and it proves true with so many dark operations going on behind and in front of the scenes. 

Between the other inmates (yes, they are a force to be reckoned with), the Black Suits (more on them to come), the skinless frothing dogs (~shudders~), the wheezers (DOUBLE shudders) and the Warden himself (“himself” is used VERY loosely here), time spent in Furnace is about following the rules, assigned duties and above all….staying alive.  Alex has no problem there, thanks in part to his new mates, but the “forever” aspect of his stay is something he can’t commit to despite what everyone tells him.  It’s that glimmer of hope that helps keep the darkness at bay when the lights go out; that promise of a new tomorrow SOMEDAY that keeps him sane when the wheezers come knocking during lockdown.  Of the horrors that reside within the confines of Furnace (of which there are many), today we’ll take on where this book got its name…LOCKDOWN.

Lockdown is what occurs when things get out of control, just as in a normal prison of today.  The abnormal part is what is unleashed to break up whatever disturbance is occurring or take out any prisoners unlucky enough to still be out of their cells when all doors have closed.  There is NO WHERE to hide.  No stairway to dash down.  No hallways to duck into.  No holes to dig.  No cellar doors to hide under.  There is just…the dogs.  Not scared?  You would be if you saw (or read…definitely read about) them.  They are not your normal fluffy cutesy critter…more like the abomination of someone having WAY too much time on their hands and not knowing when to put the science experiment kit down.  All gnashing teeth and fury, the only certain outcome with them is dinner…as in YOU are dinner.  That my friend is just the tip of the iceberg, which begs the question to be asked…does ANYONE really deserve what’s coming their way. Frighteningly enough, though you wish you could give a resounding no, it’s a question you’ll find yourself, as well as Alex, struggling with throughout the book…and that’s how it’s MEANT to be.  Without the struggle, none of what comes next would be of any consequence…and there’s a lot that comes next. 

In summary, it’s a great start to a series that will knock you on your behind and have you sleeping with the lights on…but ALWAYS coming back for more.  Let your imagination run wild (but not TOO wild) and explore the darkness that is Furnace because despite its outward appearance there is MUCH more here than meets the eye.  Recommended for older teen readers and beyond (including my own Mom…who LOVED the series as much as or more so than I!); there’s dark content (think evil), a bit of language here and there (nothing to really curl your hair though), and graphic descriptions at times (murders and the like…not “relations”).

Author Alexander Gordon Smith

Review copy won once upon a time from Bri at BriMeetsBooks.  (THANKS!)  Though her site has changed through the years, it’s still fresh and a great place to indulge in your bookish ways (both reader AND writer), so stop by and see what’s on the roster today.  Book one is available now so be on the look out for it on a bookstore shelf near you.  The publisher behind the series, MacMillan Kids…book one landed with their imprint, Square Fish.  For more information about this series as well as their complete catalog, feel free to visit them online, like them on Facebook, or follow along on Twitter.  To discover more about the series, don’t miss the official website!  Last but certainly not least, to discover more about the man behind the series, stop by author Alexander Gordon Smith’s official website, check out his blog, or follow along on Twitter.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the next installment and stay tuned because there’s a giveaway just on the horizon of a few of my favorite things.  Why?  Because let’s face it, a blogoversary is a time for me to give back to all of you…and I thoroughly intend on doing just that.

Until next time…happy reading!


Melanie said...

A spooky one? Neat.

Congrats on three years of blogging, my friend! :)

Alexia561 said...

Congrats on three awesome years! It's been a wild ride, hasn't it? Glad I found you and your blog, as you discover the coolest books and keep my wishlist growing! :)

Gina said...

Melanie: Yes..and thanks!

Alexia561: DEFINITELY has. Glad to help you with your "addiction". LOL. ^_^

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...

This looks creepy and spooky and I am all together curious now. Will add to my fall wishlist. Happy upcoming blogaversary! 3 yrs that is awesome. I am in the middle of a read-a-thon and have had some health issues, so I apologize for not visiting sooner.

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