Lockdown, by Alexander Gordon Smith (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009)

Petty thief Alex’s latest heist turns tragic and life-altering when he’s interrupted by a set of mysterious men, who kill his best friend and frame him for the murder. Victim of Britain’s new zero-tolerance policy, he’s sentenced to life in Furnace, a bizarre, inhumane prison located a mile underground. Now he has to contend with vicious youth gangs, horrifying jailors, and the disturbing secrets of the world’s deadliest penitentiary, where death is nowhere near the worst thing that can happen. Alex will escape, or die trying. This nightmarish start to a new series is unrelentingly bleak, uniquely horrifying, and strangely compelling.

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