by S.A. Bodeen
Original Publishing Date: September 24, 2013
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Fiewel & Friends
Obtained Via: Borrowed from the Library
Format Read In: Library book
View from the Traffic Light:
NOTE: This is a sequel to The Compound and as such contains spoilers for the first book.
After barely escaping from the compound where Eli’s dad kept his family for six years, they’re learning to acclimate to “normal” life—whatever that is for them. It seems like the entire world wants to know what happened to this high profile family.
Slowly they begin to make their way back into the world, but Eli can’t escape the creeping feeling that they’re being watched everywhere they go. But by who?
Eli’s anxiety is heightened as unnerving information continually surfaces about Eli’s dad’s company. Not to mention the sketchy new friend his twin brother Eddy has. Nothing seems to be “normal” anymore. New people are entering their lives—but who can Eli and his family trust?
Sigh. I was SO disappointed in The Fallout, it’s hard to know where to begin. The Compound was one of my favorite books I read last year, and while I certainly didn’t feel like it needed a sequel, I could see the potential. This led to me being quite excited to get my hands on The Fallout, but I waited patiently until my local library. Good call in the end, I suppose.
I think the biggest problem with The Fallout is that I felt the plot was just all over the place and never came together cohesively. One main aspect of the book is how Eli and his family try to adjust to normal life as well as the disconnect between Eli and Eddy, his twin. The two brothers had been close growing up but one’s spent the last five years underground thinking his brother was dead when in reality he was still alive. It’s quite an adjustment for both of them and it’s a huge struggle throughout the book. Okay, that’s plot point one. Then, Eli begins to think that people are following his family and while he’s not exactly wrong, nothing quite comes out of this plot line the way I hoped. Then there’s a third plot line that was just weird and mostly unexplained.
That third plot line involves a lot of science fiction stuff, which is a genre I like, but there was nothing to warn me this book was going to take quite the science fiction turn that it did. I mean, The Compound had some science fiction elements, but they were all thorough and well-laid out. The element in this book doesn’t really show up until about 75% and has little to make it seem grounded in the world. It does sort of introduce an old character in a new way and I *did* like that, but in general it was just too little to convince me to actually like where the plot ended up.
There’s also a really creepy scene in The Fallout that just seemed so out of place. There were creepy things in The Compound but those all made sense, and that’s my real problem with this book: all the pieces are almost there, but not quite. It just wasn’t a good follow-up to a book that stood well enough on its own. I will say that Bodeen really excels at pacing and keeping both books page-turners, but The Compound led up to a spectacular ending, whereas The Fallout left me wondering what I just read and why I thought I needed to revisit these characters in the first place.
The characters in The Fallout were disappointing as well. Eli had been such an interesting character, but it felt like The Fallout was a regression of his character. I did sort of like the arguments and tension between Eli and Eddy, but nothing was ever really resolved in a way I could get behind. Yes, there was some on-the-surface resolution, but I think this book could have gone so much deeper with that than it did. So many of the minor characters weren’t necessary and felt like add-ons that originally had a purpose but everything sort of got shifted to the side.
Final Impression: The Fallout had promised, but never really delivered. I’d still highly recommend the first book, but it ends well enough on its own that you won’t miss anything if you skip The Fallout. Things were just a bit too all-over-the-place for it to ever really feel like a cohesive story. 2/5 cupcakes.