Friday, August 23, 2013

Book Review: The Compound (The Compound #1) by SA Bodeen

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: September 1, 2009
Publisher: Square Fish
245 Pages

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 is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

The idea of this The Compound was fascinating to me, as I'm sure it is to many. The apocalypse occurs and a family burrows their way underground into a pre-prepared refuse filled with everything the family needs to survive until aboveground is safe again. I was sure that I was going to love this, but alas, it fell short of my expectations. It was enjoyable, yes, but not mind-blowing like it had the potential to be.

Everything read as just too dang convenient. It drove me nuts that this family was able to thrive for so long with expensive gadgets that still worked, rooms designed to fit their every whim (each child had their own room, a theater, a nursery, a dance studio, etc.), and they even had a shelter for cattle! Maybe I'm just being too nit-picky because the father has a super powerful job that has left him with more money than I can even imagine and he had been preparing this protection against the apocalypse for a long time. It still just didn't work for me. Bother, bother, bother. It was too much for me to get on board with, as much as I wanted to (and I really wanted to). It was a bewildering concept that I was super excited to see written out.

The characters were… uncomfortable. I mean, I didn't understand any of them, nor did I like any of them. The characterizations of the minor characters were very one-dimensional, which made it all the more difficult to follow along with. How can you enjoy a book when you have no interest in the lives of those in which the story is about? I wanted more, and I wanted relationships between the main character and his family that made sense. They felt more like strangers than relatives who spent every single day together (that would make a great story though: Big Brother meets the apocalypse).

That being said, there were still things about this story that I enjoyed. It was definitely entertaining, The Compound is also very twisted--and as a twisted person (heh), I really liked some of the bizarre twists that story had. Though it wasn't difficult to see those twists coming. There were themes in this story that are rarely seen in YA sci-fi novels. Some of these were well done, others made me squirm. Most of the major plot points are obvious from the get-go--though there were times when I thought, "The author isn't really going to take the story there… Is she?" (She usually did.) Still, through it all, this is still a pretty entertaining read!

I feel like I'm only explaining negative things about this story, but I swear, there were some things that I really liked about it. The fact that I plan to read the sequel should say something about that. I'm really hoping that the sequel, The Fallout will capture my full interest like its prequel was unable to do--thought I'm trying to not let my hopes get away from me. The Compound had all the makings of a great thriller, but the execution was sorely lacking. There will definitely be people who enjoy this, and to whom I would recommend this novel. I understand why, but I believe that this book could've been done better. 
I received a finished copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review.

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