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online journal...

My name is Alexander Gordon Smith, and I'm the author of various books including The Inventors series and the brand new Furnace series.

This is my blog, and is where I talk about books, writing and, well, probably other stuff too...

A Polish Wheezer (and a Great Review!)

As my Facebook friends will know from my constant whining, I've been horribly ill for the last couple of weeks. What started with the flu fast became an evil attack of tonsillitis, and to top it all off I managed to put my back out too – which meant that I couldn't talk or walk for a few days. I'm still feeling groggier than a drunken, one-legged pirate trying to walk from bow to stern in a storm, but I think I'm slowly on the mend.

Two pieces of good news helped cheer me up this week, though. The first is that I saw a visual for the cover of the Polish Furnace, which I've posted above. Isn't it awesome?! I was absolutely blown away when I saw it. For those of us who don't speak Polish, Otchlan means 'Abyss' and Potrzasku (according to Google Translate) means 'Trapped'. I'm so excited to see the finished book – I'll let you know as soon as I hear a release date!

The second piece of good news is that I saw the first review of Execution (the fifth and final Furnace book, which comes out in a couple of weeks). And it's a great one! A HUGE thanks to John Lloyd and The Bookbag for this review, and all the other Furnace reviews over the last couple of years! :-)

Oh, and there are spoilers here for anyone who hasn't read Death Sentence and Fugitives!

"And so to the end. Alex and his closest friends have escaped the Furnace Penitentiary, that mile-deep hell-hole cum nightmare scientific experiment writ large. He's arisen to find the country in tatters, as the nasty creatures born there are in charge and decimating the population. There is only one thing to do - kill the man responsible. And Alex, eight feet tall, with an obsidian blade for an arm and muscles upon his muscles, will still face his hardest battle yet.

The title is most apt, for even though the prison called Furnace is but a jagged memory, the man Furnace has to be sought, even beyond all his mind-controlled monsters. And the Execution part? That has greater bearing on the story than you might think.
Unfortunately for me, I wasn't keen on the first third of this book. Alex wakes from his latest battle in hospital. He's again penned inside an institution, for the sake of the 'goodies', we at first think. But in his half-awake, half-asleep, half-alive, half-dead state, every second chapter slips away into a fantasy realm, a flashback-cum-dream-cum-exposition. Yes it's all completely relevant, and suitably dark and horrific, but for me the series is better in dealing with the more concrete - the body horror, the battles, the most perfectly tangible senses of dread, nightmare and threat. Yes, those emotions do come solid in writing this good.
Beyond that extended, divisive opening, things definitely return to form. The action, the black mood, the carnage, all continue, and the writing conveys it all brilliantly. It's actually quite a rich, literary style. Monsters bask in darkness in subterranean lairs. There are lots of quality turns of phrase here, to show Smith's consummate skills expertly, should you wish to see beyond the kinetic, page-turning qualities and witness them.
And the approach to the whole cycle is one of merit too. It is one that can bear the burden of being loaded down with copious references and genres, and still come out the far end its own creature. A few, to whet your appetite - the crime thriller, the mid-apocalyptic war movie, the mad scientist genre, the Nazi allegory, the Fall of Man - it's an odd mixture, but the conviction with which it appears on the page makes everything gel.
And so I'm left with the end of it all here (or, actually, elsewhere - read the last page for further details). While I didn't find perfection in any one volume, and didn't enjoy the beginning here, I did successfully admire it all, and what Smith has achieved - combined, a solid week's worth or more of the most literally visceral teen reads I can think of."
Awesome! Thanks again, John!


coolgem50 said...

A couple of weeks?!?! Whats the release date? I MUST READ IT! I finished Fugitives a few weeks back, so i must know what happens!

12 February 2011 at 03:36  
Anonymous said...

When are death sentance, fugitives and execution coming out in the USA!!!!!!!! They HAVEE TO COME EARLYYYY I wanna read them sooo badlyyy :(( and i wanna know what the us version covers of the last twoo books are gonna look like

23 February 2011 at 10:05  
Harry said...

I've read Exicution!!! I LOVE it, mmmmm, i might write an other one, just for fun...

8 March 2011 at 13:12  
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