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Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Compound: It's Not the End of the World. Or Is It?

(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Seattle billionaire Rex Yanakakis has enough money to buy anything he wants - fast cars, designer clothes, his own island, even the safety of his family. He spent years overseeing the construction of a massive underground compound, the perfect place to shield himself, his wife, and his children from the nuclear attack he knew was coming. If anyone had gotten wind of the secret project, they might have called his stockpiling obsessive, paranoid, but Rex made sure he would have enough supplies on hand to survive for 15 years. And that's exactly what the Yanakakis' are doing - surviving in the hideaway.
Fifteen-year-old Eli, who's lived in the compound since the world exploded six years ago, is grateful for his father's foresight. He's happy to be alive when so many others - including his grandmother and twin brother Eddy - didn't make it. Still, being cooped up under the earth with only his family is getting a little tiresome. Not to mention frightening. Despite Rex's careful calculations, the family's food supply is running low. The billionaire's got a plan, of course, but it's one so desperate it makes Eli physically ill to even consider putting it into action.
Angry and suspicious, Eli begins to question his father's actions, motivations, even his sanity. Rex is keeping secrets - Eli's sure of it. When he accidentally stumbles on a clue one day, Eli's shocked to his core. Could there really be other survivors up top? Should he risk exposing himself to massive radiation to go check it out? It's a moot point, anyway: The compound is sealed tight, locked with a code only Rex knows. And he's not about to give it up, even if it means saving the lives he's so carefully preserved inside his airtight compound. With all their lives on the line, it's up to Eli to find a way to escape. Time, meanwhile, is quickly ticking away ...
The Compound by S.A. Bodeen is another of those books that looks promising, but just doesn't quite deliver. The premise definitely begs for attention. However, I couldn't stand most of the characters, Eli's voice never rang true to me, and so much of the plot relies on contrived situations that the story becomes both far-fetched and predictable. Most irritating for me is Bodine's matter-of-fact, lay-all-your-cards-on-the-table, tell-not-show storytelling. More complex, nuanced prose could have made this book into the kind of deliciously disturbing, subtly sinister thriller that's impossible to put down. As is, the book's a quick read, with enough going on to keep a reader turning pages. It just lacks the oomph it takes to be truly memorable. All that wasted potential gets me down, but it's not the end of the world. Or is it?
(Readalikes: Reminded me a lot of The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau and a little of The Last Survivors series by Susan Beth Pfeffer)
Grade: C
If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for mild language and tense scenes
To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find


  1. Thank you so much for this review. I've had this book on my shelf for nearly a year and have not moved it to "never-gonna-read" because the plot looks so good. But, if it hasn't lived up to your expectations then I've got plenty of other books to read instead. Now I won't feel so guilty!

  2. Too bad it didn't work out so well. I usually don't like those types of books, so I doubt I'll be reading it. Rex Yanakis sure is a lousy name to be burdened with :-)

  3. Ugh tell not show! I hate that!


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