The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 15, 2009

Book review: Nuclear fears prompt retreat into ‘Compound’


“The Compound”

By S. A. Bodeen

(Teen fiction)

Eli’s father is a ruthless billionaire who is obsessed with all things nuclear. He has taught Eli and his twin brother, Eddy, about nuclear warfare and nuclear testing since they were little.

Eli’s father is so obsessed, in fact, that he built an elaborate underground compound to protect his family should the United States ever face a nuclear attack. Once the door locks in the compound, they are shut in with enough supplies to last for 15 years. Eli’s father has planned every detail and has spared no expense in building the compound.

While on a camping trip, Eli’s father gets word of an incoming attack and the family runs through the dark and the woods towards the compound. They make it though the compound door with not a minute to spare. After the door is shut and locked into place, Eli realizes that his grandmother isn’t with them. Then, he realizes that Eddy didn’t make it either.

Six years pass and Eli is still coping with losing his brother. Despite his misery, he and his sisters have kept up with their school studies and life inside the compound has become routine. Then Eli begins to realize that their food stores will not last the full 15 years and that things on the outside may not be as bad as they thought.

It’s time to open the compound door and find out, but Eli’s father won’t let that happen.

“Shift”

By Jennifer Bradbury

(Teen fiction)

Chris and Win (short for Winston) have been friends since elementary school. They have been best friends for almost that long. Win is considered a member of the family at Chris’ house, but Win’s house is not that welcoming of either boy.

Unlike Chris’s very involved parents, Win’s parents are rich and distracted. His mother is more interested in her social calendar than her son’s life and his father wants Win to carry on the family legacy of ruthless manipulation and unchallenged power regardless of what Win wants.

The boys decide that the day after their high-school graduation they will head out on a cross country bike ride, traveling from their homes in West Virginia all the way to Win’s uncle’s house in Seattle. Their parents reluctantly agree to let them go, but Chris’ parents make them promise to call twice a week to check in and assure them (mostly Chris’ mom) that they’re not lying in a ditch somewhere.

At first, the trip is everything the boys hoped it would be. They challenge themselves physically, their friendship strengthens and they are having one adventure after another. Things turn sour towards then end of the trip even though neither Win nor Chris will admit it. Finally, one morning, Win leaves Chris behind. Chris tries to find Win for days, but he ends up catching a bus and going home without Win by his side. Now, Chris is in his first semester of college and Win still hasn’t come home. He hasn’t called. He hasn’t written. Nothing. Win’s father believes that Chris knows more than he’s telling and uses all of his power to send an FBI agent to hound Chris at school and makes moves to get Chris’ dad fired from his job.

Is Win hiding somewhere in the middle of the country from his less than loving family? Is he dead? Has he been kidnapped? Chris has to find out before his life and the lives of his parents are ruined.

Cari Boatright Rérat is the teen librarian at Joplin Public Library.