Title: The Fallout (The Compound #2)
Author: S.A. Bodeen
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
As promised I am attempting to review everything I read this year. I received The Fallout from work as a Christmas present, the only novel I received this year. I had selected it from a stack my manager had brought back from a conference. The story sounded post-apocalyptic, which is a subgenre I love, so I put my name on it. I didn’t realize at the time it was the second book in a series. When I discovered, that I thought, “Oh well, if I like this book, I’ll go back and read the first one.”
While, it isn’t really necessary to read the first book to understand the second book, this review will contain spoilers for The Compound, there’s really no way around it. The Fallout takes place soon after the events of The Compound. The basic story line is that Eli and his family have escaped The Compund, where they were confined for 6 years. They are now in hiding from society while they acclaimate back into it. Eli is coming to terms with the fact that his twin brother, Eddy, did not die in a nuclear event and is very much still alive. Eli feels responsible for Eddy, along with the twins’ grandmother, being left out of The Compound, for reasons that are explained in this novel. Eddy is coming to terms with the idea that his family is more numerous than it was before they went in The Compound. The whole family is healing and trying to figure out who they can trust and what to do with the patriarch’s business, now that he is dead.
This novel wants to explore a lot of different ideas it doesn’t deliver on, which I found very disappointing. Even if the whole Compound thing was a hoax set up by their father, the family dealing with that betrayal emotionally is still an interesting idea. The problem is that the only really developed characters are the older children, Eli,Eddy and Lexie. The adults in this novel almost feel like afterthoughts, like they’re only there because these kids aren’t legally old enough to live on their own. Mom just frets constantly and tries to keep them inside to protect them from a threat that never seems real. The family’s six year absence is supposed to be big national news, but there are no scenes of paparazzi camped outside their new home. Even once the family starts going on weekly outings, the public doesn’t really seem to bother them much. They only meet two seemingly shady characters and one is forgotten almost as quickly as he is mentioned.
Other frustrating things about this novel involved slow pacing and lazy writing. The first two hundred pages of this novel were pretty lacking in tension. I felt cheated by this because the cover and the blurb for the book seem to promise lots of tension. The most tense scene involved the family going to Costco and Eli becoming suspicious of that one shady character I mentioned earlier in this review. Even the last 130 pages, where the real antagonists are revealed, involve characters that don’t seem very threatening. I know this is a YA novel, but I’ve read other YA with real villians. It just makes the novel seem lazy and boring. Also I was desparately bothered that the author spent so much time focusing on what the characters were wearing every time a new day started or a character entered a room. I used to do that when I was trying to write my first story, at age 10.
I think the family dynamic was what kept me reading this novel. I did like the relationships between the three oldest kids. Or maybe it’s my resistance against not finishing a book, especially one given to me as a gift. Either way, I won’t have to worry about reading the first book in this series, or the next book if there is one. I’m just not interested.