Book - 2008
After his parents, two sisters, and he have spent six years in a vast underground compound built by his wealthy father to protect them from a nuclear holocaust, fifteen-year-old Eli, whose twin brother and grandmother were left behind, discovers that his father has perpetrated a monstrous hoax on them all.
Ever since their world was destroyed by a nuclear attack, 15-year-old Eli and his family have lived in the Compound, a state-of-the-art bomb shelter built by his billionaire father. Despite having every comfort, Eli is haunted by the fact that his twin and his grandmother were left behind. He also begins to question his father's sanity after an inventory miscalculation threatens their survival, and his dad hatches a morally corrupt plan to "enhance their food supply." Eli's worst suspicions are confirmed when he discovers a live Internet signal using an old laptop. Did the world really end six years ago? Why else would Eli's father want to keep his family underground? Debut novelist Bodeen effectively builds the claustrophobic suspense with each chapter as readers slowly discover the Compound is not the refuge it seems. Combining elements of Margaret Peterson Haddix's Running Out of Time (1995) and Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (2005), published for adults, this postapocalyptic thriller will also pique the interest of Nancy Werlin and L. J. Adlington fans. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews
Bodeen, acclaimed as the writer of such picture books as Elizabeti's Doll, turns out a high-wire act of a first novel, a thriller that exerts an ever-tighter grip on readers. Eli, the 15-year-old son of a billionaire techno-preneur, has spent the last six years with his family in the massive underground shelter his father has built, knowing that nuclear war has destroyed the world he knows—and killed his grandmother and his twin brother, who couldn't reach the compound in time. With nine years to go before the air outside will be safe to breathe again, the food supply shows signs of running out, but Eli's father has a solution—provided they jettison all morals and ethics. Repulsed and already suspicious, Eli begins investigating his father's claims, and sets up a family death match against a man who grows increasingly irrational and sinister but no less powerful. As far-fetched as the premise may be, Bodeen keeps Eli's actions true to life and uses clues planted fairly and in plain sight. The audience will feel the pressure closing in on them as they, like the characters, race through hairpin turns in the plot toward a breathless climax. Ages 12-up. (June) [Page 47]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.Review by School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 7 Up— In a burst of panic about a nuclear attack, nine-year-old Eli, his sisters, and his parents move into an underground bunker built by Eli's billionaire father. It's an enormous complex, with rooms similar to those in the family's Seattle mansion. Only his grandmother and twin brother don't make it in. The first six years of the planned 15 have been fairly routine, but now some food has spoiled, and certain things just don't seem right, or even possible. Eli is starting to have doubts about his father's motives, explanations, and sanity. Readers might find the first third of the novel to be slow as a lot of time is spent developing Eli's character as a spoiled, self-centered child. There is considerable foreshadowing, and astute readers will likely figure out the ending. As the years pass, Eli is full of teen angst and anger that develops into a realization of what he must do in order to help his family survive. The novel becomes full of tension and suspense and turns into a true edge-of-the-seat thriller. There are numerous social issues addressed that could lead to great classroom discussions.—Dylan Thomarie, Johnstown High School, NY [Page 94]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
After spending six years with his parents and his two sisters in an underground compound built by his father to protect them from a nuclear holocaust, Eli discovers that his father has perpetrated a monstrous hoax on them all.Review by Publisher Summary 2
After his parents, two sisters, and he have spent six years in a vast underground compound built by his wealthy father to protect them from a nuclear holocaust, fifteen-year-old Eli, whose twin brother and grandmother were left behind, discovers that his father has perpetrated a monstrous hoax on them all. Reprint.Review by Publisher Summary 3
S.A. Bodeen's The Compound is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year. 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?Review by Publisher Summary 4
Eli's father built the Compound to keep their family safe. Now, they can't get out. He won't let them.