Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 256
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone? Maybe? There's a conclusive ending, but the author did leave it open for a sequel
SummaryEli 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's rather take his chances outside. 
Eli's father built the Compound to keep them safe. But are they safe - or sorry?

I read this one because the middle school book club at work was reading it. Plus, the librarian has always said really good things about it and I wanted to check out a recommended postapocalyptic/survival-type novel.
Life in the Compound is safe. Built in the event of a nuclear holocaust, it houses everything a family could need or want. Not for Eli, who has been living there with his family for si years. Eli is suffering from the same old bored routine--and from missing his grandmother and twin brother, Eddie, both of whom did not make it into the Compound before it was sealed off. Things are starting to go in a downward spiral for Eli's family--and he has some choices to make.
Many postapocalyptic/survival books focus on the have-nots rather than the haves. It was really interesting to see how money changed the game and how their horrifically messed up situation was enabled by the resources they had before their family ended up in the Compound. This book demonstrated how dismal life could get, even with everything you could possibly want surrounding you. It challenged the definitions of "living," mainly posing the question of whether or not the costs of living in the Compound outweighed the benefits. I wasn't expecting the questions this book raised, but I thought Bodeen handled them quite well.
Eli was a great protagonist with a believable male voice. The experience of losing his twin at such a young age set up the way he interacted with the rest of his family for the six years in the Compound. I didn't think he was easy to like at all. He was kind of a jerk to his family, lacking in the desire to be near them in any way. I thought this made him real and interesting, creating a great protagonist to take the reader through the Compound.
The Compound was an interesting read, showcasing what having innumerable resources can do in the event of a disaster. There was a fantastic twist and a wonderfully messed up plot!

Rating: 4.5 - really good.

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