the blog of a librarian, book reviewer, and pop culture fiend
Monday, September 15, 2008
Review: The Compound by S.A. Bodeen
Did anyone else see Top Design last night, where the challenge was to decorate a
fallout shelter? It was a serendipitous, if rather scary, moment, because I was on my couch reading S.A. Bodeen's The Compound at the time. I suppose that's what I get for not bothering to change the channel after Project Runway.
The plot: For six years, Eli Yanakakis has lived three stories underground in a lavish fallout shelter. On his ninth birthday, his father ushered his family away from what he said was a nuclear attack and into The Compound. The door to the compound is sealed and set to open in fifteen years, enough time for the nuclear waste from the attack to become harmless. The only people Eli has seen or communicated with for years are his mother, father, and two sisters. He desperately misses hamburgers, his twin brother, Eddy, his grandmother, and his dog. Though The Compound seems stocked with everything he could ever want, Eli knows there are many faults in his father's plan for survival. Their food supply is not what it should be. He catches his father lying about the ability to connect to the Internet. As the book goes on, Eli learns that his father's ultimate plan for a food source, what they call The Supplements, is not the result of poor planning but of his father's near-insanity. Eli knows he has to get out, but only his father knows the secret code to opening the door.
Why you'll love it: When I first picked up this book, I thought it was a dystopian novel. Dystopias in YA are really hot right now and I do love me some imperfect future worlds, but I thought the horror/psychological thriller factor went way up when I realized it wasn't a dystopian novel. Is the book perfect? No. There are some holes in the plot and characterization, but Eli's world is so absorbing, his character so interesting, that the reader doesn't care so much. Eli goes from having a life that every teen would envy to one that no one would want. It reminded me of Flowers in the Attic in many ways: A teen living in a golden cage, a parent's warped idea of safety, a question of gratitude, adapting to survive, protecting one's family, etc. In the span of this book, Eli changes more, grows more, than he has in the past six years. In order to escape, Eli has to put aside all the tactics he's adopted just to get through his daily life. He also has to face up to the question of how far he would go just to ensure his own survival. It's a hold-your-breath book, definitely one that fans of The Hunger Games would enjoy.