The Compound by S.A. Bodeen.

Paperback, 245 pages

Published 1st September, 2009 by Square Fish

IBSN: 9780312578602

Eli’s billionaire father is so obsessed with an ‘imminent’ nuclear war that he builds an elaborate bunker deep underground in the middle of nowhere. While camping, Eli’s family are woken in the middle of the night by his father raising the alarm: the nuclear war is here and it’s time to go the the compound.

The plan is to stay for fifteen years, until it is safe to go back above ground. There is plenty of food, some cows for milk, a hydroponic vegetable garden, thousands of DVD’s, a enviable music catalogue, and everything the family could possibly want or need for one and a half decades of underground seclusion.

But as the years pass, unforeseen complications arise and Eli starts to wonder about the outside world. Would it be better to leave the compound early?

The Compound has a really interesting premise. It reminded me of Blast from the Past – a movie from the late nineties/early noughties. It’s not totally original, but I enjoyed it.

Eli was nine when they entered the compound, and is fifteen now. As a kid, he was pretty self centred and bratty. He’s still retained some of that as a teenager. But it’s understandable. Imagine being stuck underground for six years with only your family for company. He is quite the anti social recluse, actually. Luckily, he matures and makes peace, I guess, with his family as the novel goes on.

The father is a real patriarch. He’s pretty controlling and pushes the family to do his bidding. Some of his ideas are pretty sick, and it’s disturbing seeing them come to light, and wondering which members of the family will go along with them. And asking yourself what you would do in that situation (this is kind of a survival book).

The ending is quite ambiguous. But in a satisfying way, where you can quietly think about what might happen, and make your own decisions without a sequel being thrown in your face.

The Compound isn’t my new favourite or anything, but I’m intrigued by S.A. Bodeen’s writing. It seems like she isn’t too afraid to put her characters into intense situations. I’ve already got another of her books ready to go and there’s a survival one that’s just come out or is coming out soon that I will definitely read as well.


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