Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 2552
A Hidden Greatness
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
One of the main things I loved about The Compound was Eli’s characterization. I find that most of the Young Adult books I’ve read this year, while good, haven’t been quite what I was looking for in the characterization department. There are certainly wonderful characters in this genre, but I feel many are three-dimension while still lacking the subtlety I crave. We see Eli as a child of nine, and he is clearly different six years later. He starts out being a not-so-great brother, but ends realizing he really does love his family. What makes this believable is that we see glimpses — but only glimpses– of the ability of Eli to care for his family before his character growth. He doesn’t change in an instant, though it does happen quickly. However, it doesn’t seem out of place because it’s not something that just comes out of left field. It’s been fermenting in his character from the beginning of the novel.

PLOT
This is really where this book shines. Yes, I love the characterization, but I think many readers could overlook bad characterization in this novel because of the plot. There’s always a new twist, that’s foreshadowed enough for it to make sense and yet still deliver impact. I will say my one less-positive thing about this book is that the foreshadowing is quite overt in times; sometimes the “twists” can be see coming. However, because of what those twists are(some of which are truly horrifying), its impact is not diminished.

PACING
Unfortunately, this is where this book lost its fifth star for me. Throughout most of the book, the pacing is great, but towards the end everything starts to seem rushed and the main character gets into a situation that should take a bit of time to solve, and instead more or less breezes through it. It’s a sequence of events that goes just a little too fast to make me as a reader feel there was any actual conflict.

OTHER ELEMENTS I ENJOYED
The writing. It’s simple, but effective.
The opening line, “T.S. Eliot was wrong. My world ended with a bang the minute we entered the Compound and that silver door closed behind us.” Aside from being just a really great opening, the T.S. Eliot reference was enough to hook me.
The lack of romance. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for romance when it’s called for, but it’s nice to know that Young Adult books can be written without authors thinking it’s a necessary ingredient.
Final Impression: I thought this was an amazing book all around, with one exception in the pacing area. It’s not quite what I was expecting, but I think that’s why I loved it so much. I am now determined to read some of Bodeen’s other books. I give it a 4.5/5 stars.
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