‘Twas another great meeting of Reading Between the Wines this past weekend!
Everyone in our book club has officially hosted a month, so October’s meeting was back at my house. It’s amazing to think we’ve had almost a full year of great reads, food and conversation! Up for discussion this month: The Compound by S.A. Bodeen, who we met at a recent author event.
I decided to make vegetarian lasagna in honor of a scene from the book. It was my first time ever making lasagna and I’m happy with how it turned out! I’ll be sharing the recipe in my next post.
Other eats included a delicious salad brought by Nicole…
…fresh fruit courtesy of Crystal…
…and these yummy Halloween cupcakes from Shanley. There was both an Oreo (with a cookie on the bottom) and a pumpkin mudslide variety. I was able to try one of each and they were fantastic!
Sheena also brought us some fantastic popcorn snacks that were perfect for our post-discussion screening of The Hunger Games. We’re all getting in the mood for November – have you seen the final Catching Fire trailer yet? Check it out:
It looks amazing, right? I can’t wait for this movie!!
But getting back to The Compound…I really enjoyed it. Definitely a quick read and different from what I normally would pick up, which made for a nice change of pace.
The story is centered around a 15-year-old boy named Eli whose family has been living in an underground compound since a nuclear attack occurred six years before. Eli is the son of Rex Yanakakis, a wealthy billionaire who made his fortune in the technology industry and built the compound to keep his family safe. It is an elaborate structure full of every material item they could want – at least initially. The book opens as things begin to unravel.
Though material goods are aplenty, the compound is missing two very key components: Eli’s twin brother, Eddy, and grandmother, who unfortunately didn’t make it into the compound when the attack began. Eli has always blamed himself for this and as a result, has not had a very happy life in the compound. But as the book progresses, a change comes over Eli in one major way: he begins to question the routine he has known since he was nine and, in the process, uncovers secrets that alter the course of their underground existence. Read this book if you’re interested in stories that portray interesting “what if?” takes on humanity and family dynamics.
The thing that grabbed me most about this book is its originality, especially in the YA fiction category. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of dystopian books with female protagonists and, yes, often some sort of love story. This book had neither of those things. I was impressed by S.A. Bodeen’s ability to put herself in the mindset of a 15-year-old boy who has been surrounded by no one but family for six years and sees no end in sight. They are forced to stay down in the compound to avoid the after effects of nuclear war – even as the food supply begins to dwindle.
Another interesting aspect of the book is the character of Rex Yanakakis – a man so obsessed with the thought of nuclear war that he spent millions of dollars (if not more) on building this underground safe haven for his family. Knowing this fact on its own may make you think, “Wow, he must really love his family.” The reality is that it goes far deeper than that. Rex is a true study on the psyche of a man with endless brainpower, endless money and endless passion for the Machiavellian idea that “the ends justify the means.”
When Eli begins to question his father’s motivations, it sets off a chain of events that makes this book a literal page-turner. It’s relatively short, so those pages go by even faster. At the end, you’re left with questions, which is why S.A. Bodeen ultimately decided to turn the story into a series. I’m definitely curious to read the second book, The Fallout, which was just released. I’d say that’s the mark of a good first book!
Have you read The Compound? If so, what did you think?
As a side note…I just finished Allegiant by Veronica Roth. No spoilers here, but I will say that now I’m in that stage of mourning the end of an amazing book series while also thinking wow, I have so much respect and admiration for this author.
If you’ve finished, let me know and we should definitely talk via email about it!