Lockdown is the start of the horror series, Alex Sawyer, age 14, a bully and thief, ends up being blamed as a murderer and sentenced to life without possibility of parole to Furnace Penitentiary, with the blacksuits that look like the one in the cover, ruling it, who actually really did murder Alex's friend. Furnace is a famous mysterious jail for juvenile delinquents that is buried a mile beneath the ground. There, everything is hell. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner is this slop made from rotting food. Imagine salty porridge and it might not be too bad. The showers are freezing, there's never any sign of what time of day it is, and inside is a huge secret kept from the world: the warden has his prisoners mutated and experimented on, becoming these soldiers and creatures they call "wheezers." Imagine yourself being assigned to a job called "The Stink", and then imagine something five times as painful and as sad, and you may get the picture.
Alex earns two main friends, one of which was blamed for murder as well, named Zee, the other his cellmate, a whiz kid who's lost all hope. His name is Carl Donovan. He helps Alex out, but swears he's not his friend, let alone his guardian angel, who keeps trying to convince him that he might as well just commit suicide and jump off the platform, falling six or so feet. I don't have proof, but I bet no Furnace prisoner has gotten to thirty there. Beneath heaven is hell. Beneath hell is Furnace.
But there's still one thing: hope. It many not be your best weapon for survival, but it's something no prison can ever take away. It might be the best thing ever. Not too too long into Furnace, Alex finds a possible way at least out of gen pop. Can it lead to the surface and to freedom? Maybe. Maybe not. And all of a sudden Donovan finds happiness. Half of the book in the prison is trying to adjust and make friendships. The other half gives Donovan the same happiness and hope, all of a sudden maybe more than Alex, and we do too, despite problems appearing there and there, delaying the escape but nonetheless showing that friendship is useful.
Remember, I'd already read Books 3, 4, and 5 when I finally picked this up, so I thought I was going to be bored and filled with pain. Nope. Lockdown is not perfect and a bit upsetting, but still a warm, funny, tragic, and astonishingly scary horror story like it's sequels.