The Compound is an award nominee, well at least in the state of Missouri. See each year the Missouri Association of School Librarians comes out with award nominee lists for grades 1-12, Show- Me nominees are for grades 1-3, Mark Twain nominees are now for grades 4-6 (for years they were 4-8 but someone decided there are books that are ok for the upper grades but not so ok for intermediate grades hence the next level) Truman nominees are for grades 6-8 (yes sixth grade has an overlap but anyone who has ever taught sixth grade can tell you they are in a transition from elementary kids to middle school preteens so this overlap makes sense some kids will be ready for the Trumans while others should still be reading the Mark Twains), finally the Gateway nominees for grades 9-12. The Compound has the distinction of being one of the very few books to ever be on both the Truman and Gateway lists (I believe Hunger Games was another if that gives you the idea of the quality of this book). And now that I’ve taken up this much space telling you about the MASL lists I think it’s time to talk about the books.
The Compound is the story of Eli and his family. At the beginning of the story they have just moved into an underground compound where they will live for the next fifteen years because there has been a nuclear attack. Their new life begins in a panic and in grief as Eli’s twin brother Eddy and their grandmother have been left behind meaning they will die. The story then jumps six years. Each member of the family is dealing with living in the compound in different ways, Eli exercises and avoids all physical contact, he is racked with guilt over the death of his brother which he insists is his fault, Lexie seems to hide in books and movies, Therese begins speaking with an English accent, Mother plays her cello, and father spends more and more time in his office. Things have not been as rosy as Father has led them to believe they will be underground, yes they have a safe place to live, they have clothing, and water but their food supplies are already beginning to be an issue and trust in their parents is also diminishing. The story does start a bit slowly but then it picks up and at the end moves rapidly towards its finish. I really enjoyed it.
Ok hopefully that got the point across 🙂 The Fallout is the sequel to The Compound. Eli and his family are above ground once again and reunited with Eddy, their grandmother and their housekeeper. They want to return to normal life but they quickly find that life back home is anything but normal. They have to move out of their home into one bought under a fake name so no one can find them, they have a bodyguard and security guards at the gate to their new home. Phil, their father’s right hand man who helped their father keep them underground for those years remains in charge of his company until the twins are 25. Ok so I have to be honest here for the first half to two thirds of the book I was enjoying most of the story. My main problem in that part was Eddy, at one point Eli is complaining/disparaging their father and Eddy begins defending him saying he “lost” his father when he was nine and the man was still a hero to him. Um WHAT? Really he didn’t become furious with his father when he realized that his family he had mourned was NOT dead, that his father had taken them down into that compound and left him to believe he was the only family member alive, nevermind the fact that apparently Eli and the sisters didn’t fill Eddy in on what the conditions in the compound truly were, and I want to know why not btw, he still sees Dad as the hero? Yeah that doesn’t come across as a genuine reaction to me. I get why it was written that way after reading the rest of the book. Anyway beyond that I was at about a 4 star rating for the book, that is until the BIG REVEAL. Umm yeah my reaction to the BIG REVEAL: “WTH are you freaking kidding me? I mean seriously? This is where you’re going with this really??? UGH!!!” I put the book aside and wasn’t sure I’d finish it, I spent I’m not even sure how much time awake in the middle of the night going over it in my head trying to make it come out ok rather than what it was. I did finish the book and while it ended ok, it was not what I expected. The sudden jump into the sci-fi realm from near realistic fiction was too harsh for me. Overall I’d give this book a 2 maybe, maybe a 3 if I were feeling kind, and looking online it appears I may be the only one who feels that way. You know I don’t like giving a negative review to a book but this one just let me down. I did like the way it was heading but the last third to quarter of the book just shot it for me. If you read The Fallout and disagree with me please tell me how you feel.
Final note for anyone that’s interested the MASL award nominees for next year can be found at this address http://www.maslonline.org/?1415FinalNoms