Debut novel by a Hollywood screenwriter that just screams 'film script'. The premise is great. 18 year old Jason has been acting out since the death of his mother so his father, a State Governor, enrolls him into a Scared Straight program where rebellious teens are shown through the local maximum security prison to give them a taste of life on the inside. At the same time a powerful, psychopathic inmate is staging a mass prison outbreak. Jason's only chance to escape is with the help of another prisoner, Rix.
The pace of this book is fast. Characters are quickly introduced and brief backgrounds given before the story moves on. Jason's history with his deceased mum and absent Dad is perfunctory and his emotional growth from rebellious teen to self-aware citizen is barely touched on at the end and remained unconvincing.
While the story itself is interesting, the way it's told lacks detail and depth. The action scenes are written as if you were describing a movie scene to a friend. It lacks descriptive passages and emotional engagement with the protagonists. The sole female character is a juvenile psychologist who had a one night stand with the Governor and encouraged him to enroll Jason in the SS program. She really seems to be a token character. I can't see the point of her sexual history with the Governor. My cynical side makes me think it's just to add a slight romantic interest to the (eventual) film.
I've seen it described as YA but I don't think it is. The MC may be only 18 but all the other main and secondary characters are adult. It belongs in the action/thriller genre. There are a few typos, like 'earpeace' instead of 'earpiece'.
However as I said the premise is good. It's an easy quick read. And if you're looking for some mindless Jerry Bruckheimer-style action this might entertain you. I feel that the author hasn't really taken advantage of the novel format and has just written a screenplay which lacks impact without all the whizz-bang special effects.