Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Compound by SA Bodeen

This book gets a prize for extremely short plot summary that still intrigued me enough to take it out from the library. The inside cover summarizes the suspense and sheer awesome of how it is executed throughout the pages. The following five sentences are the courtesy of the inside flap:

Eli and his family have lived in the Compound for six years.
The world they knew is gone.
Eli's father built the Compound to keep them safe.
Now, they can't get out.
He won't let them.

Eli has everything anyone could wish for. A never ending music collection, a billionaire father, his own personal gym, and a family of virtuosos in their own right. But (excuse the cliche) there is trouble in paradise. Especially the fact that it is all underground. Eli hasn't seen any human being other than his family members for six full years and there are still nine to go until the time lock will release on the doors of the Compound. Even worse, his twin and grandmother were caught "up top" when the nuclear bomb fell. And however much his father tries to deny it, food supplies and morale are getting low.

When Eli finds the laptop, all his pent in doubts come rushing to the surface. Is it possible that there is still a human remnant in the world outside? Is it even possible that there was never any cause for hiding away in the first place? And what of the Supplements, the young children held captive in the mysterious yellow room? Eli can't bring himself to love them, but could never bear using them to further his survival. The choice seems clear, but if he plans on helping anyone, he'll have to surmount his own personal issues and explore the truth behind the deranged mind of the father that has become a madman.

I haven't read such a twisting suspense novel in a long time. Even if it clocks in at 245 pages, there was enough material to confuse and then delight any mystery fan. I was rooting for freedom the entire time, even when the characters seemed ready to give up. And yet, at the same time, I wanted to figure out what was going on in the Compound for real before anyone else (Inner Aella: Don't look on the last page...don't...don't, Outer Aella: B-but, I gotta know *whining*) The ending was exciting enough to cover the interesting events leading up.

My main complaint about this book was in Eli. At times, he was irritating, mean spirited, cowardly, and rebellious. But then again, perhaps that was what made the entire novel so believable. He was a very real character, though I feel this could have been accomplished with a little less emphasis on the protagonist flaws. This was redeemed by the well-thought out plot and intricacies of the characters he interacts with.

It was very difficult for me to believe that SA Bodeen was a first time author and I reallyreallyreally hope that she will write more books. CRACK-ZING-BAM! 6 out of 7 lightnings!

Expect more reviews than ever before in the coming months,


Anonymous said...

ohhh....sounds dystopic....

Ink Mage said...

Sounds good! (The summery reminds me of a less-dorky Blast from the Past.) But my library doesn't have it. :-(