Book Review: The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

26961813 out of 5 Stars

I can honestly say that the cover was the initial draw for me here. I loved the simplicity and grittiness, enough to pick up the book and read the back cover. Rich kids living in a post nuclear war bomb shelter who suddenly realize their father has been deceiving them all along? Sold!

Plus, this book was originally written as part of NaNoWriMo, which I have to admit is pretty fricken’ awesome 🙂

The Blurb

Eli and his family have lived in the underground Compound for six years. The world they knew is gone, and they’ve become accustomed to their new life. Accustomed, but not happy.

For Eli, no amount of luxury can stifle the dull routine of living in the same place, with only his two sisters, his father and mother, doing the same thing day after day after day.

As problems with their carefully planned existence threaten to destroy their sanctuary—and their sanity—Eli can’t help but wonder if he’d rather take his chances outside.

Eli’s father built the Compound to keep them safe. But are they safe—or sorry?

My Take?

This book was a strange combination of overbearing teenage angst, post-apocalyptic ingenuity, and Donner Party survivalism. The book begins with Eli, our teenage narrator, escaping into an underground bunker with his family, racing for safety from a nuclear explosion. Fast forward six years later and Eli is living in luxury within his billionaire father’s doomsday compound- a huge library of movies, rooms of books, a full gym, and all the free time in the world. Except, now the food supply is dwindling due to poor planning, mechanical failures, contamination, and a mysterious combination of incidences that suggest sabotage. Now the family might have to consider making the ultimate sacrifice for survival.

This YA speculative fiction piece is an intelligently written story that looks at just exactly how far people can go for the sake of science, especially in the face of obsession and mental illness. Bodeen uses a combination of real-time narrative and flash backs to tell the story, allowing the reader to piece together the reality of Eli’s situation alongside him.

Although the story was interesting, I did have some major complaints with the plot line. Some aspects of the story felt contrived, mismatching puzzle pieces pulled out of thin air and forced together. There were too many coincidences leading up to the climax for my taste, too many tiny little pieces that had to come together against all odds.

The characters could also be kind of annoying. The narrator, Eli, is a self-absorbed rich kid who likes to hide within himself, alienated from the rest of his family after the loss of his twin brother. His father is a self-important control freak who has essentially willed his family into submission. It was difficult to watch the way he was able to manipulate his family throughout all aspects of their lives. These character flaws did allow for growth later in the book, but the changes seemed abrupt and unrealistic when they did come.

Overall I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. The fact that this book was originally written for NaNoWriMo is pretty cool, a great inspiration for me personally.  So, if you’re looking for another post-apocalyptic YA survival story, give this one a shot!

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