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Page: Video:

Lead: 6 Excite: 37 Amaze: 8 Direct: 14
The Escape from Furnace Series (1:04)
Furnace Lockdown cover.jpg
Author: Alexander Gordon Smith Facebook

Series: The Furnace series
  • Lockdown (2009)
  • Solitary (2010)
  • Death Sentence (2011)
  • Fugitives (2012)
  • Execution (2012)
  • The Night Children (2012), novella
Publisher: Square Fish, an imprint of MacMillan @MacKidsBooks

ISBN: 978-0312611934
Date Published: Oct 27, 2009
Elements: Directive, Praise, Series

While the Furnace series trailer is technically simple it pulls you in with hard images and pounding music. The target audience is clearly young males and the author has built a strong following in FaceBook. Very powerful lead that grabs you in six seconds.


Author interview. Many YouTube videos about author and series. Video:

LEAD Analysis

Lead "Beneath Heaven is Hell, and beneath Hell is furnace." Passes the Google TrueView test. LEAD Timing Stopwatch.png
Excite [interest] Introduce protagonist and setting/challenge. Hard pounding music supports the theme.
Amaze [hook] Strong reviews. It could be argued that the line "And the impossible - ESCAPE - is the only hope" is the hook. I found the praise compelling. They have an edge to them that supports the book.
Direct [directive] Book covers.

Trailer Arc

Setup.jpg Character.jpg Ordinary.jpg Challenge.jpg Praise.jpg Directive.jpg

This trailer begins with the brilliant lead: “Beneath Heaven is Hell, and beneath hell is furnace.” After the main character, Alex, is introduced, the brunt of the trailer is spent describing a typical day in the Furnace. The challenge is then presented to do the impossible – escape, which is followed by praise and then the directive.

Publisher Intro

Furnace Penitentiary: the world's most secure prison for young offenders, buried a mile beneath the earth's surface. Convicted of a murder he didn't commit, sentenced to life without parole, "new fish" Alex Sawyer knows he has two choices: find a way out, or resign himself to a death behind bars, in the darkness at the bottom of the world. Except in Furnace, death is the least of his worries. Soon Alex discovers that the prison is a place of pure evil, where inhuman creatures in gas masks stalk the corridors at night, where giants in black suits drag screaming inmates into the shadows, where deformed beasts can be heard howling from the blood-drenched tunnels below. And behind everything is the mysterious, all-powerful warden, a man as cruel and dangerous as the devil himself, whose unthinkable acts have consequences that stretch far beyond the walls of the prison.

Together with a bunch of inmates—some innocent kids who have been framed, others cold-blooded killers—Alex plans an escape. But as he starts to uncover the truth about Furnace's deeper, darker purpose, Alex's actions grow ever more dangerous, and he must risk everything to expose this nightmare that's hidden from the eyes of the world.

Escape From Furnace Series Covers

Footnote: This genre does not generally appeal to me. I am a retired software executive, far from a male teen. On the strength of the trailer I bought Lockdown (Book 1) and all I can say is damn you Gordon Smith. I read the book in a weekend and books two and three are on order now. The writing is superb and like classic YA each chapter ends on a cliff hanger. I kept thinking just one more chapter and I will set it down.

Second footnote: Finished Solitary (book 2) and still enjoying it as much. I was trying to figure out how Gordon could hold my interest with the book setup but he did. Books 3, Death Sentence, is waiting on my pile to be read. I am looking forward to seeing how the story continues.