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, 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's rather take his chances outside.
Eli's father built the Compound to keep them safe. But are they safe - or sorry?
In honour of (that Dystopia challenge-find it) I decided to read a dystopian novel! Compound was one of the Top 20 picks in my book club's Summer Reading List so I was excited to get a headstart. I've been meaning to read a novel by S.A. Bodeen for a few years now and this seemed like the perfect time.
I had no idea what to expect out of The Compound but it definitely blew away whatever preconceptions I had before reading. Most dystopian novels are set in small towns or new colonies but few take place in a post-apocalyptic bunker. I was immedaitely drawn into Bodeen's tale of billionaire Rex Yanakaki and his quest to ensure the survival of his family after a nuclear attack on the United States. Of course, knowing it was a dystopian novel I had my doubts from the start and couldn't wait to see how they panned out. I don't want to spoil it for anyone but The Compound will definitely be different from any other dystopian novel you've read.
Eli Yanakaki, the narrator, was a uniquely-written protagonist. Most main characters are kind, compassionate, and respectful but Eli was angstful, depressed, and incredibly flawed. I love unreliable narrators because it makes the reader think about the plot and the narrator's interpretation of other characters rather than just taking it at point value. I also liked that his time in the bunker had turned him from a childish brat to a cold-hearted and isolated teenager rather than ideal "caring and good looking" male we read about so often in YA literature.
One of my pet peeves with The Compound was the logistics. In a novel dedicated so much to detail and explanations of the compound I was surprised by how much didn't add up or make sense. There seemed to be many plot holes or things left unexplained, and rather than adding to the mystery it just left me confused. For example, what was the signifance of the Seattle Seahawks football phone? Why didn't Clea make the connection about the bread till the end? I sort of expected the novel to end on a cliffhanger and be continued in a sequel but instead it ends rather abruptly and I was left wanting more. I was also surprised that he had absolutely no romantic or signifcant other. The Compound is one of the few novels I've read where there is no mention of dating, romance, or even the slightest hint of a relationship. I sort of wish that Eli had made contact with someone, to give the novel that added well-rounded oomph.
Quote: "I would have rather had a dad with change jingling in his pocket; one who would have spent the last forty minutes of the world raking leaves for his kids to jump in, so that they perished in one loud, bright instant, giggles still bubbling up from their bellies, never suspecting a thing."
Recommended: Candor (Pam Bachorz), The Gardener (S.A. Bodeen), The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Mary E. Pearson), Life As We Knew It (Susan Beth Pfeffer)
Laura (All the Word's a Page)