Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Compound, S.A. Bodeen

Bodeen's first novel. It's a super quick read (I read it in two days and I'm a mom-that says something!) at 250-some odd pages.

It's the story of Yanakakis family. Wealthiest software developer who lives in Seattle. He has an adopted oldest daughter, Lexie, and twin sons Eddy and Eli, and a younger girl, Terese. Rex Yanakakis also has an obession. It's about nuclear war. He knows all the dates of everything having to do with nuclear war-and he's prepared too-with an underground compound built to withstand a nuclear winter of 15 years. The family knows about the compound, but never truly expected to see it. Until the fateful night when it all becomes real, and their father rushes them to the compound.

The story is told from Eli's perspective. He is 9 when they enter the compound, but then narration skips 6 years ahead in time with the occasional flashback to fill in gaps both from the previous 6 years inside the compound as well as to life before they had fled to their underground home.

I would probably give this book 3-3.5 out of 5 stars. It's highly predictable, and a little twisted in places. Twisted as in "that's SO wrong on SO many levels." But it is an interesting concept. What will people do in order to survive? What do you do if you're trapped in a situation where the authority figure is excessively controlling? How does having money affect the motives of other people in your life? Why do some people cave in their personal moral beliefs in the presence of someone with power and authority? For instance, there is a flashback in which Rex is throwing his Christmas Eve party and probably half of the guests are vegetarian or vegan-and he knows it. But he insists that everyone take a place with a serving of meat on it. And then, to further test the limits of his power, he then goes around the room and talks with each guest individually and asks them if they've tried the meat. If they haven't, he insists on them having one bite. And stays and watches while they do. Now, I know it's far fetched for a vegan or strict vegetarian to cave (have you ever met a vegan who didn't completely EXUDE the fact that they WILL not, under ANY circumstance consume an animal product?), but the example is that people who are not completely and wholly committed to their cause or belief system will cave in the presence of an outside pressure. And I think that that part is a valuable lesson for young people. I think it was Gordon B. Hinckley, former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who was infamous for saying "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." So whatever it is you choose to value and believe, you need to commit to it 100% so that when the Rex Yanankakis's of the world insist that you eat that bite of meat, you can say "I'm sorry, but I don't __________" and if pressure continues, to just politely excuse yourself completely from the situation-no matter what the repercussions might be in your life.

Will Eli make that choice?

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