The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

Classification: YA Fiction
Genre: Sci-fi
Age Level: 13+

“Dad asked me if I wanted to see more of the Compound. I didn’t. We would have to wait fifteen years before it would be safe to go outside. Which left more than enough time to see the Compound. Our new world. A world I would soon hate.” ~ from The Compound

Summary: Billionaire computer scientist Rex Yanakis is convinced the world will soon end in nuclear war. Determined to guarantee the safety and survival of his family, he oversees the construction of a compound in which his family can survive for fifteen years. Sure enough, Rex’s predictions ring true and the Yanakis family is forced to seek shelter. After six years in the compound, however, Rex’s son Eli is slowly realizing that things are not as his father would have him, and the whole family, believe. As Eli cautiously probes about in his family’s bizarre world, he uncovers shocking secrets, including evidence that Eli’s beloved twin brother may still be alive despite Rex’s insistence to the contrary. When he discovers the extent of his father’s dangerous delusions and twisted experiments, Eli decides he wants to get out of the Compound. But Rex is not about to let him go.

Notes: What makes this first YA novel from S.A. Bodeen so creepy is that elements of the plot seem barely fictitious. The kidnapping cases of Natascha Kampusch and Jaycee Dugard come to mind. And I was actually inspired to write this review after reading this article on the “safest house in the world,” which reminded me of Rex Yanakis.  Because of these realistic elements, Bodeen initially has the makings of a great psychological thriller. And then halfway to two-thirds of the way through, the novel falters. Bodeen throws in a plot twist involving genetic experiments and the story loses its believability. And that’s all it had going for it in the first place, since main character Eli is hard to care about and the rest his family, aside from Rex, remains undeveloped.

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