By S.A. Bodeen
Synopsis: (From Powells)
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?
Why I Picked this Book: I had skimmed its synopsis and it sounded interesting. When I saw it on sale at Powells, I figured "Hey, why not" and snatched it up. Plus I do love the cover.
The Compound wasn't what I was expecting. I finished it a few days ago and have honestly been sitting around, wondering what to say about it. The idea behind the plot line is very intriguing. The execution though... put me off.
For the first half or so of the book, I had a hard time connecting with Eli, the MC. I just couldn't like him. Or sympathize. But I couldn't fully hate him either. He kept many things secret, even from the reader, and after a while I just became frustrated. One minute he would ramble about how he didn't like to touch anyone, the next he was punching on his little sister. Nothing felt fully consistent. And frankly... I got bored.
Which maybe was the aim. Because all the characters were bored, trapped in this awesomely huge underground Compound, safe from the nuclear war they believed raged outside.
I mentioned the secrets. Ok. So of course in a book you don't want to spill all the beans in chapter one. But in The Compound, I found I kept flipping back through pages, feeling like I had missed something because of how often Eli refers back to all these secrets and memories. But never actually mentions them. It felt like I was just expected to know there were things he wasn't telling us from the get go, and accept it. I finally had to just give up and hope it was all explained. Which it was... in a rush.
There was one aspect of the book (The Supplements behind the yellow door... aka: Babies) that I think would have been better if it was focused on a bit more. Come on. Breeding babies as a back up food supply?? At least, that's what I gathered it was for. Again, it was never fully explained. Made me kind of cringe though... ew...
Alright. The parts I liked? Well, Eli's father was pretty creepy. Itchy, braniac, millionaire... everything you need to breed a great mental case. Which he was. Here I was, thinking it was a book about the end of the world and surviving nuclear war and all that. No... its a book about an insane father and his unlucky family.
Eerie, yes. What I thought it would be... no.
Overall, it wasn't a horrible book. Good writing, good thoughts. It just wasn't my cup of tea. When I feel more frustrated and confused than satisfied and page-flipping... I know its a book that didn't make my top lists. Because of all that, I give it a two-star out of respect still for the writing and plot.
(2 out of 5 stars)