Thursday, June 24, 2010

Review/ The Compound by S. A. Bodeen

Thursday, June 24, 2010
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. No amount of luxury can stifle the dull routine of living in the same place, with only his two sisters, only 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--really?

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen, another book being considered for the Area Wide Book Battle held annually at my school, is quite unique in its premise. Eli’s father is a billionaire obsessed with the threat of nuclear war. So much so that he builds an underground compound just in case the U.S. is ever bombed. The book opens with Eli, his two sisters, mother, and father racing to the compound after Eli’s father proclaims that what he feared might happens has. Unfortunately, in the rush to make it to the compound within the first forty minutes after a nuclear war head has been launched, Eli’s twin and his grandmother do not make it in time.

The Compound is definitely a compelling read. Narrated by Eli; we learn about the compound through his eyes. Eli is a difficult character to like, and I constantly had to remind myself that under the same circumstances (being locked up underground for six years, and losing his twin brother, Eddy), I might not be the most pleasant person either. But as the action unfolds, it becomes obvious that Eli has always been selfish, self-centered, distant and even hateful at times to both his sisters. Eli is, however, a dynamic character in that he changes a great deal by the end of the book and becomes a hero.

As Eli begins questioning his father’s planning, so does the reader.  I was aghast at the possibility of Eli’s family having to spend another nine years in the compound. Especially when it becomes clear that the supplements Eli’s father prepared as a fail safe for their dwindling food supplies, turn out not to be vitamins. The story takes an even more bizarre twist at the end, and while I did see some of it coming, it was none-the-less exciting and very suspenseful as Eli fights to save his entire family.

The compound explores several key issues such as family dynamics, parental authority, and the philosophy of utilitarianism.  The book definitely asks not only the characters but the reader to contemplate just how far is too far when it comes to one’s survival?

The Compound is a fascinating and suspenseful story that is a quick read and will hold the interest of not only young adult and middle school audiences, but adult readers as well.


Shweta said...

Having read the author's other book The Gardener , I can imagine the tightness of the plot. I have to get to this book soon.

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

This seems to be a very interesting read. Thank you for sharing!

Jenn (Books At Midnight) said...

Woah, this one sounds intense. It's definitely a horror to imagine. I'll have to check this one out sometime; thanks for the great review! :)

Lizzy said...

Great review! This is another book I hadn't heard of, but am definitely interested in. It seems like it's intense, interesting read.

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