James B’s Letter Essay #9: Lockdown

I have recently finished reading “Lockdown: Escape from Furnace 1 by Alexander Gordon Smith. He is a young author having written 11 books in his career. Lockdown, is the first book of Alexander’s Furnace series. Having only read one other science fiction book this year I decided to try Lockdown and see if I liked it. After reading this book, my book count is now at 32, which is over my personal goal of 30 books. 32 books is the most that I have ever read in one school year so I feel good to surpass my 30 book goal. I feel that I have grown immensely as a reader this year because of all the reading that I did this year. I also think that because I have been reading more, my writing has become much stronger than it was at the beginning of the year, which is one of the great benefits of reading. I chose to read this book because of a recommendation from a class mate that said I would really like it. Mrs. Carlson also recommended the book to me when I came in wanting to read a mystery book.

In this book, Alex Sawyer is locked in Furnace Penitentiary, the world’s most secure jail for young law breakers, The prison is buried a mile beneath the earth’s surface making it impossible to escape from. Wrongly accused for a murder that he never committed, Alex must either find a way out or spend the rest of his life behind bars. Throughout the book this is lots of action and very detailed description of the prison making it easy to imagine in your head. Although, the furnace is plain evil, where creatures in gas masks walk the halls and drag screaming inmates into the unknown darkness. With the addition to the all powerful warden, as mean and dangerous as the devil, there is almost no hope for Alex. Together, Alex and some other framed inmates, others cold blooded killers, they plan the ultimate escape from the most secure prison in the world. As the plan develops more and more it becomes more and more dangerous for Alex and his friends. Read the book Lockdown to find out if Alex and his inmate friends make it out.

The genre of this book is definitely science fiction because of all the evil creatures and under ground prison. I really liked the way that the author described everything in the book because you could understand everything that was going on and you could feel what the characters in the actual book were feeling. I also really liked the scene because it is a different book then what you are used to today because of all the characters and setting. If I were the author I would have given a little more background action as to how Alex got there instead of just having a small scene.

Finally, I was interested in this passage where some of the inmates are talking about the warden.

“Just take it from me,” Donovan said.

“Stay well clear of the warden. Some here think he’s the devil. I don’t, I don’t believe in that religious talk, but I know evil when I see it. He’s something rotten they dragged from the bowels of the earth, something they patched together from darkness and filth. He’ll be the death of us all, every single one of us here in Furnace. Only question is when.”

“I know one thing,” I added. “The warden certainly brings out peoples dramatic sides”(pg. 72).

I liked this passage because it really showed how much they dislike the warden and how he is so controlling that nothing can be done to stop him. I thought the book was pretty good. I rate this book a 6 out of 10.


James Burris



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