The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

I had been meaning to read The Compound ever since it started building buzz over the summer.  Somehow, it fell by the wayside until today.

WOW.  If you are a dystopian/apocalyptic fan, this is the story for you!  Briefly, Eli and his family have been living in an underline compound, built by his Bill Gates-like father, ever since the United States was attacked with nuclear weapons.  Eli’s twin brother and his grandmother didn’t make it to the shelter in time and perished in the aftermath.

Or at least that’s what his Dad tells him.  And has been telling the family for the past six years.  With nine years to go before the outside world will be safe to breathe again (radiation poisoning is the main concern), the food supply shows signs of running out.  Eli’s father has a solution.  But the solution is too repulsive to even think about. Horrified, angry, and already suspicious, Eli begins investigating his father’s stories.  What he discovers is shocking and tears the family apart.

I could not put this book down!  While the premise is frightening and unbelievable, Bodeen makes it realistic and all too-consuming.  Get your hands on this one!  I can’t wait to pass it on to my students.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson was my #1 “must get ARC” at ALA Midwinter ’08.

Wow. Just wow. I read this in one sitting, unable to put it down. I’m not even sure how to review it, because I don’t want to give anything away. Jenna Fox has been in an accident. She spent the last year in a coma and doesn’t remember anything from her old life. She has to relearn how to walk, how to talk, and how to do something as simple as smile. She doesn’t even know who she is. However, she does remember historical facts and can recite Walden from memory. While in a coma, she was moved from Boston to California. Her family’s new home is sterile and void of any of Jenna’s old belongings. There is nothing to trigger her memories. She has no friends and no family other than her mother, father, and a grandmother who seems to despise her. Something isn’t right and she can’t even begin to figure out what that something is.As she struggles to rediscover who she is, her parents refuse to answer any of her questions. Their cover story begins to unravel and nothing is as it seems. At the risk of spoiling what is an amazing story, I’ll stop there. But you must pick up a copy of this book. If you haven’t preordered this yet…..well, get on that!

An amazing science-fiction story, I would classify Pearson’s novel as dystopian. It’s a frightening look at where our society is headed and what might happen in our future. It raises questions of medical ethics, bioethics, humanity, and how far we are willing to go to save someone we love. The plot doesn’t seem outlandish or out of the realm of possibility. In fact, it seems frighteningly possible.

Despite being a science-fiction novel (a genre better known for being full of clunky science/technology jargon), Pearson writes captivating, lyrical prose. Scattered throughout the book are poems, written from Jenna’s point of view and seemingly in her own mind. Each one is beautiful and could stand on it’s own, outside the book.

Each of the characters are captured perfectly. Jenna struggles with her own identity while trying to figure out who her parents really are and what her relationship was and will be with them.

This was a perfect book for me to read right now. It fits in perfectly with my unit on ” The Giver” and I can’t wait to pass this on to a few of my students. The questions it brings up will be wonderful for letter-essay reader’s response and for comparison to Lowry’s novel. Pearson has really outdone herself and this should be a runaway success.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox will be released April 29, 2008. Pre-order your copy now!

*A note on the cover- how gorgeous is it?? One of my favorites for 2008 so far!

** Also, I was thrilled that Mary Pearson incorporated an eco-artist into the story. Eco-art is something my class will be working on later this year and it is rarely mentioned in popular literature! Kudos to Mary Pearson for that!

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