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Alexander Gordon Smith : Lockdown (Escape from Furnace 1)

10 Jul 2011 · No Comments

In the first novel of Smith’s “Escape from Furnace” series, young Alex Sawyer finds himself incarcerated in a future super-prison with imagery and events reminiscent of Nazi medical experimentation and death camps. Lucky for Alex, the future super-prison’s security policies would embarrass any present-day medium-security penitentiary; I had major suspension of disbelief issues throughout. For a supposedly hardened criminal (although innocent, yawn, of the crime of which he’s actually convicted) Alex is frankly a bit of a wuss. The escape plan has a put-these-seemingly-unrelated (but firmly established) details together quality that reminds me of adventure game plots; the semi-alert reader will likely put it together long before Alex and his chums do. Compelling prose or characters could overcome the plot limitations, but Smith mostly sticks to Sawyer’s limited voice and observational skills. (The few times a colorful metaphor pops up seem like aberrations.)

I’m older than Smith’s target audience, and it may be I’m judging Smith according to standards he’s not trying to meet — maybe he’s more interested in creating a nightmarish mood than a credible plot. But there are plenty of young adult novels I don’t feel any need to make excuses for; this one feels sloppy and unimaginative compared to the YA novels I usually read.

needs more demons?

Tags: l-title · s-author · science fiction · young adult

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