Solitary: Escape from Furnace 2 by Alexander Gordon Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Definitely a "boys read" book - a mix of Incarceron and sci-fi ugh that should keep them happy!
I hadn't read the first book, but there's a brief expository chapter and then you're in to Alex's escape from Furnace, a very nasty underground prison where unspeakable things are done to prisoners (er, make that "specimens"). Unfortunately, the escape doesn't go as planned, and Alex, Zee and Gary are right back in Furnace. Alex and Zee are sentenced to 30 days in solitary, a literal hole in the floor with no light and a little hole in which to pee and get air.
They cleverly discover a way to communicate, and one day Simon comes to rescue Alex. It's this bit that gets me - Simon takes Alex out of the cell, they talk, Alex goes back to the cell, over and over. Seems a bit cruel but it does ratchet up the suspense: will Simon come back? how is Donovan? can they figure out a way out? They do find a way to escape, but are foiled by the rats (a human-based creature), then find another way that again doesn't work out.
In the end, they're taken back to Furnace for... what exactly I don't know because that'll be in Book 3. The grossness of the blackshirts, rats and wheezers is almost appealing; the questions of what solitary can do to your mind are relevant to our questions about how to handle prisoners today.
ARC provided by publisher.