Synopsis: 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?
Details: The Compound by S. A. Bodeen, 256 pages, 3.75 stars on Goodreads
My Thoughts: First off, major props to the author for a unique plot! There are tons of books out there that deal with apocalyptic scenarios, including nuclear wars and the like, but I love that this focused more on something totally different. If I wanted to write a dystopian, I don't think I'd ever think of doing something where the main characters are completely separated from the outside world in order to survive. The situation is awful - you can't have contact with anyone outside your immediate family (except for Eli's twin brother, who didn't make it into the compound), every day is exactly the same, and tensions and problems arise.
I especially love the twists. Just when you think you know what's going to happen, you find out everything you thought was true was completely wrong. This book is unpredictable, a welcome relief from novels where you can practically recite the next sentence before you read it. The one thing I didn't like about the plot was that it was on the unbelievable side. You kind of have to suspend your disbelief, but after a while, you start to really get into it and it's not so bad. However, the delightfully creepy nature of the book more than makes up for this.
Some people didn't like Eli that much, but I thought he was a great character. He definitely was far from perfect - at times he was downright lazy and selfish, but I felt that made him real. Aren't we all lazy and selfish sometimes? Besides, he'd been through some really tough stuff, particularly with something regarding his brother, which I won't reveal. Eli struggled with a great deal of emotional baggage, but in the end, he was an honest portrayal, and I'm glad the author didn't try to sweeten him up. I also liked watching him grow as a character and become more caring and selfless.
Of course, there were several aspects of the book I didn't like as much. First, there was the issue of the "supplements", as they were called. While it was never really fully explained, from what I understand, they were raising little kids to eat because apparently their food supply was running low. I think the author tried too hard to raise moral/ethical questions, because that felt extremely unbelievable to me. If you think you might starve, is your solution really going to be to make your wife and daughter pregnant so you can eat the babies? I mean, really? I kept thinking I misinterpreted the book because that just seemed so illogical.
The other thing I didn't like was the father. I realize he was supposed to be the cold, manipulative psychopath, but many of his decisions didn't make sense, even after I finished the book. I can't say exactly what they are without revealing major, major spoilers, but they just seemed plain weird. I think there could have been better reasons to explain why the father did what he did - something, anything to make it more real and believable.
All in all, The Compound is a quick but fascinating read. It's suspenseful enough to keep your attention and have you turning pages, but the plot isn't the most believable in the world.
Plot - 3/5
Characters - 3/5
Writing - 4/5
Impact - 3/5
Inability to put it down - 3/5
Overall - 64% = B-