Alex tells how he got into the life of crime starting out in school acting like a gangster maintaining a piece of the playground, and as he got older him and his two friends Toby and Brandon get into theft. After they robbed a few houses, Brandon didn't want to be a criminal anymore and Alex knew that he too, would have to stop sometime. So he devised a plan for Toby and him to Rob a rich house. When he was collecting cash, he heard someone break into the house. While he was trying to find the quickestway out, he heard Toby scream. He ran over to Toby to find him laying on a carpet in front of some Blacksuits and one that Alex thought was especially unique and cruel: Moleface. Moleface shoots Toby, killing him, while Alex watches in horror.The Blacksuits frame Alex, sending him to Furnace Penitentiary. On the way he meets other kids named Monty, Jimmy, and Zee. Alex then befriends Zee and then watches the Warden introduce him to Furnace on a large monitor. Alex is assigned a cellmate named Carl Donovan who is in Furnace for killing his mom's boyfriend. Alex tells Donovan that he was framed, in which Donovan reveals that a lot of kids were being framed lately. Donovan tells Alex all about Furnace, including Lockdown, the Dogs, and the Wheezers. A few days pass, and Alex notices Monty getting beat up by three of the Skulls. Alex jumps in and fights the skulls, but they soon overpower him. Zee begins helping, then Lockdown begins in the middle of the fight. They take off running as the Dogs are let loose. The Dogs kill one of the skulls and Donovan lets Zee and Alex in his cell. Monty isn't grateful for what Alex did for him and reveals this when they are working in the kitchen. Monty then makes a delicious meal, to Alex's delight. He reveals he was also framed about the murder of his sister. That night Monty is taken by the Wheezers. After that, Alex comes up with a plan for an escape. They then put the plan into action by collecting gas filled rubber gloves. Alex then meets Toby Merchant in the incident between him and Ashley. Gary Owens is then taken into prison and becomes leader of the skulls. That night, the Blacksuits bring a Berserker into gen pop and release it on Kevin Arnold, the old leader of the skulls and Monty's cellmate, killing him. Alex sees the birthmark on its arm and realizes its Monty. The next day Alex is taken into the arena to fight three skulls. They easily overpower him. To save his life, Donovan makes a deal with Gary Owens to let him escape if he spares Alex. That night Donovan is selected and taken by the Wheezers, leaving Alex heartbroken. Alex then makes one last delivery into the cave and blows it up with Zee, Toby and Gary. As they jump into the river, Alex is grabbed by Moleface and is dragged onto the ground. Moleface says he will never let Alex escape and picks up a large rock to kill Alex with it. Moleface drops the rock and doesn't suceed in hitting Alex. Alex opens his eyes to see Monty in a suit, burned fatally, and choking Moleface. Monty chokes Moleface to death and with his dying breath, says "Alex, don't forget your name". Alex jumps into the river and leaves the book at a cliffhanger.