Alexander Gordon Smith

Furnace, Book2

Faber (2009)

ISBN: 9780571240913

Reviewed by Kaitlyn Fall, May 2010

Furnace: Solitary is the second book in the Furnace series by Alexander Gordon Smith, and it is just as grotesque, horrifying and gripping as the first one… possibly more so.

Alex thought he had made it out of the Furnace forever, but his escape proved to be a failure, and he is dragged back into hell without so much as a glimpse of the outside world. This time, however, he is thrown into solitary confinement, and is living out the tortures of his mind while waiting for the repulsive Wheezers to collect him and turn him into the monsters many of his cellmates have become. But there are other creatures out there beneath Furnace, some helpful and some more terrifying than anything he’s come across. It’s only with the aid of some new friends that Alex is given one more chance to attempt escape.

The first book in this series gave me nightmares. The second one probably will, too. Horror is certainly not my genre. And yet, here I am, devouring these books and about to start on the third. I think perhaps it’s the protagonist that keeps me going. Smith has created a well-rounded, flawed, and believable character who has continued to struggle against odds bigger than anything I’ve ever read. It’s only by being in Alex’s head, feeling his desperation, hope, and at times, utter defeat, that I have found these books readable. His determination and will is stronger than any character I’ve come across, and for that, I will continue to pick up the series. That, and I want to find out what the hell the Wheezers are doing to the extremely unfortunate (adolescent) inmates. I sincerely hope Smith delivers a believable explanation.

As with the last book, I would warn anyone who is squeamish to stay away. There are scenes that will make you lose your appetite. I certainly wouldn’t recommend the books for young adult. But, if you’re into the twisted and gruesome, or if just you want to know how to make a story gripping while keeping the main character in solitary confinement for most of the time, then this book is worth a read.