Execution: Escape from Furnace 5

Execution: Escape from Furnace 5
By Alexander Gordon Smith

My time with the Furnace series is finally over.

I wasn’t sure I could make it, but I had to know if Gordon Smith would ever resolve this strange, twisting plot.

In the end… yeah, I suppose he did.

All of my previous issues still stand but this book was at least interesting- I was never totally sure about what was going to happen and, while it isn’t where I would have taken the plot or premise, I think, for the direction he chose to go, the end made sense.

I definitely hated the military twist present in the last two books- a twist that basically gnarled itself into such cliché stupidity that I wanted to punch myself in the face. There was also a lot of cheese--- I mean (and this will only make sense to people who have read these books), what the hell is going on with Alex’s obsession with Donovan? They knew each other for a hot minute: they had some interesting conversations, shared some laughs,  Donovan gave him a tour of the prison and tried to stop him from getting his ass beaten, and Alex smothered him to death with a pillow … but my god, it was seriously only a couple weeks. I don’t get it. I don’t want to get it. Alex, I think you have crossed the line from honoring a dead pal (and I say pal because buddy, friend, companion and other like terms would indicate that they had known each other for at least a month--- which they did not) to basically being a ghost stalker.

That might be a weird tangent, but it annoyed me.

I couldn’t decide if I liked the Alfred Furnace reveal or if I thought it was stupid.

In the end, that’s basically how I feel about this entire series. Was it good for what it was or was it crap? Was I blinded by my literary scholarliness or was I trying to force something that just wasn’t there? I don’t know. I plan on using aspects for my dissertation, but that has more to do with offensive representations of mental illness than it has to do with this being quality young-adult lit.

All I can say is, if you are going to start the first book, you might as well take it to the end so that you can form a well-rounded final judgment.

My final judgment:  meh. 


  1. Hi Sarah,

    I've been enjoying your reviews of the Furnace books! I'm sorry you didn't enjoy them as much as I'd obviously have liked you to, but I'm glad you didn't think they were totally awful!! :-) I appreciate the good things you picked up on, and I admire your candour!

    I was sad that you found offensive representations of mental illness in the books, though. As somebody who has friends and family with mental illnesses I'd hate to think there was anything offensive in the books. It certainly wasn't intentional, anyway.

    Good luck with your dissertation, and thanks for taking the time to read and review the books!

    All best wishes,

    Alexander Gordon Smith

  2. Alex,

    I really appreciate your taking the time to read the blog! I tend to be really critical but overall really enjoyed the premise. As I writer myself, I found myself picking apart things that are entirely stylistic/subjective Like I said in the reviews, I find it difficult to remove myself from a critical literary eye-- but I recommended the series to a couple peers with young sons. From what I have heard so far, they are loving the series.

    Also, in regards to the issue of mental illness, my dissertation focus is the presence of mental illness in young adult literature. As such, I have a very critical eye. Do I think most people would find mental illness being constantly tied to cruelty and violence offensive? No, absolutely not as it is 1. for the sake of fiction and 2. what most of pop culture does anyway. But lit people tear it apart with an academic lens.

    Anyway, thanks again for being such a good sport. I'll be sure to review more of your work!

    Best of luck and thanks again!

    ~ Sarah


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