Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Book Review: The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

Title: The Compound (The Compound #1)
Author: S.A. Bodeen
Publication Date: April 29, 2008
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pages: 256
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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, 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—or sorry?

Before The Compound, I had read two S.A. Bodeen books: The Raft and The Detour. One I absolutely loved and the other I really, really did not. The Compound, though, is right up my alley. Not only do I know I'll get a good twist out of Bodeen, but I've been on a dystopian kick lately and this definitely fit the bill.

Eli is an unlikable character. He goes into the compound, an underground luxury bunker designed by his millionaire father, as a young child feeling responsible for the loss of his twin and grandmother. He hates being touched and makes no effort to be kind to his sisters or parents. I didn't like him at all from the beginning, but then he slowly began to grow on me. Eli lived with a lot of (deserved) guilt, but he started to do the right thing by the end.

Eli's family were all a bit underdeveloped in my opinion and everyone seemed a bit too detached. Eli's father was obviously a bit off throughout the story and it was obvious that he was controlling the show, forcing the members of his family to behave in a certain way. As much as I hated Eli, I at least understood why he behaved the way he did. Eli's dad was a mystery.

My favorite thing about Bodeen books is that I know that I'm looking out for something that isn't immediately apparent. Fairly early on, a yellow door was mentioned. I didn't know what was behind the yellow door, but as soon as it was mentioned I was hooked! The mystery in this story is top notch. I'm not sure I loved it as much as I loved the twist in The Raft, but there was definitely enough here to keep me hanging on until the very last page.

The world of The Compound is obviously confined to a bunker. I love these kinds of claustrophobic stories where you have no idea what is going on outside! Once Eli begins questioning everything, the story gets even more uncomfortable. Like in The Raft, Bodeen does a fantastic job of creating a world confined to a small space and full of uncertainty.

If you're a fan of dystopian books, or really just of really good mysteries, this is one you should definitely pick up. I was on the edge of my seat from the first page and blew through this quickly. Although there is a second installment, I've read that it was really unnecessary and I can see how that's true from the ending of The Compound. It wraps up nicely and leaves you with just enough unease to make it great. I'm going to be on the lookout for the next book from S.A. Bodeen!