I’m not really sure what to make of this book. I picked it for my YA class as a best audiobook award winner, but I actively disliked the narrator, and the story was okay at best, so I’m not really sure how this award was won. Soooo…
Okay, the story. Eli and most of his family live in the titular compound, which Eli’s super-super-super-rich dad built to protect them from a nuclear holocaust. When the family got word of that holocaust happening, they jumped into the compound but had to leave behind Eli’s twin brother, Eddie, and his maternal grandmother, who were too far away at the time to be able to round up and hide. This was when Eli was nine. Now he’s fifteen and really really bored of the compound, which they can’t leave for another nine years because apparently fifteen years underground protects you from nuclear fallout. But when, one day, Eli actually talks to his sister, he finds out that she thinks there was no nuclear catastrophe in the first place and that Eddie and Gram are still alive, and this — along with some other suspicious things he notices — makes him wonder just why he’s living underground.
That was my first problem with the book. Eli’s been living underground for six years and this is the first he’s heard of his sister thinking everyone’s alive? He’s been believing that everyone’s dead for six years and this is the spark that’s going to make him believe differently? There were many clues that came up after he talked to his sister that would have been better as the catalyst, in my opinion.
My second problem with the book was Eli in general. Ugh. I pretty much hate the kid. He’s whiny, he’s self-obsessed, he (according to the audiobook) talks like an idiot, he has a tendency to tell me the same things over and over and over again — well, that’s more Bodeen’s problem, I guess, but seriously, I got it after the first mention that Eli’s hair was a hiding place, you don’t neeeeeeeed to tell me again.
I would call the pacing a problem, because it moves just so freakin’ quickly and stupidly easily, but A Wrinkle in Time is a far worse offender and I love it to death so we will ignore this problem. This is clearly a book for younger kids.
Okay, I need some nice things to say about the book now. Hmm.
Oh! As much as the plot and pacing are iffy to me, I did really like the concept that Bodeen was going with. What if my dad had hurried me into a giant bunker to ride out a nuclear winter? What if I then found out that it was all just a setup? What if there was a chance I was going to have to eat some babies? (Yes, that last one is actually a plot point. Weird, but interesting.) I might be a little old for the story as told, but I bet an adult novel with the same ideas would really draw me in.
Rating: 5/10 (7/10 if you’re under the age of 15)
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