Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Author: S.A. Bodeen
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Age: JUV/YA 13+
In this sequel to The Compound, the Yanakakis family has gotten out of the underground dungeon their father Rex had them trapped in for six years after a fake nuclear attack. The Compound was destroyed after their release and their father along with it, or so they thought…
The whole family including Gram , Eddy & Eli the twins, Terese, Lexie, Lucas, Cara, Quinn, Finn the newest addition to the family, Els the nanny & housekeeper, Clea their mother, & Cocoa & Clementine the beloved family pets are all reunited at a new house on Mercer Island to escape the press. They are trying to return to normal, whatever that means now.
Phil the family & company accountant & Rex’s right hand man was supposed to take over the company, but shortly after their meeting with the lawyers he disappears & no one is sure what happened to him or where he could be. So in the meantime Clea has taken over & the twins are helping out & learning more about the business. Eddy doesn’t have much interest in the company, but Eli wants to learn more about their charitable causes. He’s especially interested in their continued investment in the Progeria Institute.
Progeria is an extremely rare genetic condition that causes rapid age progression from early in life. Most children with the disease live to be teenagers before they die from old age problems like strokes & heart attacks. The Institute is a place where patients can get treatment & be a part of the research for a cure. Eli isn’t sure why is father or the company would invest money in something so non related to their general field of software, so he goes to visit to find out more.
When Eli is at the Progeria Institute he speaks with the Director Dr. James Barkley. Barkley shows him around & tells him about some of their research that was unfortunately destroyed in a fire about 7 years ago & they have had to start over. This process wouldn’t be taking place if YK Industries weren’t funding their project. While there Eli meets a girl named Verity whose little brother is suffering from the disease & they become friends, Eli’s first friend since leaving The Compound.
So when the kids aren’t lounging around the house their mother has agreed to let them & their trusty bodyguard/driver Lee take them out on excursions in the real world. They go to places like a local aquarium, Costco, & a baseball game. The family tries to be as covert as possible but there is news all over the internet about people seeing them & it makes them a little nervous. While in the outside world they meet a teenager named Tony. Eli is suspicious of the boy, but Eddy & Lexie quickly befriend him & he accompanies them on several of their trips. One of these trips is a mini vacation to the families Colorado house before it gets sold.
However they don’t make it to Colorado…
They end up on a remote island near Hawaii & see someone they thought was dead, their father Rex.
It turns out that Tony is actually Phil. Rex has made that possible with his latest endeavor to save mankind. The fire at the Progeria Institute wasn’t an accident & before all was lost Phil stole the research for Rex and his new Compound on this island. Rex has used the research to develop a process to deage people making the younger, the Fountain of Youth. The plan was to get Lexie, Eddy, & Eli to the island then have Clea bring everyone else with her, or they would never be seen or heard from again.
The kids however have a different plan…
The kids however have a different plan…
After finding out about what their father is doing with the research they don’t think it’s a good idea to hang around for too long. Especially after Eli finds out what his father is hiding behind a big silver door with a keypad in his lab. The deaging process works on most people using a gene gun, the scientist & help at the new Compound are all people Rex has deaged & given a new life to. But when the process goes wrong, or the person’s body doesn’t take the therapy correctly they turn into shriveled little grey blobs sort of resembling babies. The “babies” are kept behind the special door in cribs & hooked up to machines to stay alive.
Eli & his siblings are thankfully not alone in their plan to escape from their father once again, Tony has decided that he’s done being Rex’s con man & he wants to save himself. He can drive the jet that took them all there if the kids can get on it without their father following them. So Eli sneaks into the lab to get the remote control that will blow up the island, much like the Compound. But Rex is waiting for him & in order to stop him Eli has to use the gene gun on him & deage his father. The process doesn’t go very well however & his father is turned into one of the grey baby things.
In a roaring ball of fire Eli barely makes it on the plane with the rest of them. Back home they tell their tale & Tony is kept on the company payroll so they can keep an eye on him. Eli gives the research back to Dr. Barkley along with the gene gun used on Rex & hopes he can use it to find a real cure before it’s too late. Then Eli & Verity finally get to go on the date they’ve been planning since their first meeting & the world is normal again.
Likes: S.A. Bodeen doesn’t disappoint as usual. This book however wasn’t as exciting as the first one, but still a good story with a happy ending.
Dislikes: Much like the yellow room & the Supplementals in The Compound, the room of creepy grey babies in cribs is freaky & quite unsettling.
Saturday, September 17, 2016
Author: S.A. Bodeen
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Age: JUV/YA 13+
This is actually the first book written by this author even though it’s the 6th one I’ve read by her. As usual she never disappoints and leaves you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.
In this first book in a duology we are introduced to the Yanakakis family. Rex is the hard working, billionaire father, Clea his wife is the half Chinese, half Hawaiian musician devoted to charitable causes. They have four kids Eddy & Eli who are twins, Lexie the oldest adopted one, & Therese the youngest.
When the story opens they are all scrambling down the hatch into the Compound. Unfortunately the whole family doesn’t make it. Eddy & Gram, Clea’s mother, don’t make it in with them. They are running away from a “supposed” nuclear attack on their town, Seattle. From there we continue to story six years later…
The family has been inside the Compound for the past six years, Eli was 9 when they went in. They are supposed to remain down there for 15 years until it is safe to return to the normal world. The door will magically open when the time is right, or when the special code is entered. The only person who knows it is Rex.
The family has everything they could ever want. Awesome bedrooms, a movie theater, hair salon, gym, pool, state of the art infirmary, etc. They’re only problem…they are running out of food. They even grow vegetables in a hydroponic lab but that’s not enough. So Rex comes up with a plan to save them, it’s called the Supplementals.
The Supplementals are three kids, the oldest being 5, that Rex & Clea conceived as an emergency source of food. Everyone is against the idea including Clea, but what can they do with Rex running everything?
That is until one night Eli makes a discovery that will change everything…
He’s able to use his once useless laptop to get online! But how is that possible? They are three stories underground and surrounded by concrete & steel. Plus the world they knew was destroyed wasn’t it?
Eli is able to IM with his twin brother Eddy who tells them that everything is fine, he & Gram are safe at home & they thought the rest of the family died in a fire. Eddy also promises he’s going to help find them & get them out of the Compound. It isn’t long after that when Eli tells everyone else & they agree to confront Rex. Especially with their mother due to give birth to supplemental child #4 very soon. When confronted things don’t go as planned. Rex admits there was no nuclear attack and he did all this as an experiment. Naturally his family thinks he’s crazy!
As is turns out he’s not just crazy, he’s suffering from ergotism,a poison that is derived from ingesting bad grain like the rotten flour used to make the bread he loves so much & couldn’t give up. But good news is they have the cure in their fancy infirmary.
After making a shockingly quick recovery Rex starts trying to stop Eli from opening the hatch to the outside world but he doesn’t succeed. Turns out Phil the family’s accountant that also helps with Rex’s business knows about the whole plan! Escaping safely the family, including the supplemental children make it to the outside to see the stars again. Rex has a plan if the Compound becomes compromised, but does it include him living?
Likes: As always I love every book this author has ever written & this one was no exception.
It was a very fast & exciting read, I finished it in less than 2 days!
Dislikes: It’s a little weird…crazy father, possible cannibalism & incest…
Author: S. A. Bodeen
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Age: JUV/YA 13+
Mason is your average teenage boy, he’s a sophomore in high school, plays football, & is learning to drive. What sets him apart however is a huge scar on the side of his face from a dog attack when he was five. He’s never met his Dad, the only information Mason has on him is a badly taped video of him reading The Runaway Bunny, including a shot of a blue butterfly tattoo on his arm but not his face. Everything Mason knows about his life is about to change.
Mason’s Mom works at the local old folk’s home called Haven of Peace. Their small town of Melby Falls, WA is run & paid for by a big scientific plant on top of the hill overlooking the town. The company is called TroDyn and as far as Mason is concerned it’s bad news. His Mom has a mysterious past associated with the company and Mason is about to find out all the answers and then some.
One night while visiting his Mom at work he meets a group of “brain damaged” teenagers. Mason is instantly attracted to one beautiful girl. It’s not long before the two teens & Mason’s best friend Jack end up in trouble & on the run away from Haven of Peace. It turns out the girl & the others on her floor aren’t Brain dead vegetables after all. They are part of a TroDyn experiment to help save the world from apocalyptic famine.
Mason & the girl who we find out is named Laila escape, leaving Jack in safe hands at home & make it to Portland. Laila can only remember strange little bits of info from before she suffered a “traumatic brain injury” Mason is 100% sure the mystery girl & the people following them have something to do with TroDyn. In Portland they meet up with a woman named Dr. Emerson, she is giving a book talk about her new book on apocalyptic famine and the future of the human race as we know it. She used to work for TroDyn so Mason & Laila confront her but they aren’t ready for what she has to tell them.
Let’s have a little biology lesson…Most animals including humans are heterotrophic which means we need food & water to live because we can’t produce our own. But imagine a world where every living thing was autotrophic or self-sustaining. Weird right? Some plants & animals like sea nudibranchs already are thanks to evolution. But think about humans being able to sustain life much like plants do, through photosynthesis & mutualistic feeding. That’s what TroDyn scientists have been working on for almost 20 years. Dr. Emerson reveals the whole operation to Mason.
Laila is actually an autotrophic human being, she doesn’t need food or water to survive. Scientists at TroDyn and other interested parties gave up their children at a very young age so they could be experiments in this new technology. At a young age the kids, like Laila, are introduced to photosynthetic cells that are found in most plants, and they are put into their bodies to replace their blood & body makeup. That was the first phase of the experiment & it worked. But as the kids started to grow up & become teenagers, their bodies were metabolizing the substance to quickly. The scientists had to find a way to keep them alive, together, and surviving off the substance. Therefore they had to become permanently attached to machines that give them a constant feed of the organic material. That’s where The Greenhouse comes into play.
The Greenhouse is a building in the TroDyn compound where all the autotrophic kids are individually hooked up to all the life sustaining material they need. This is phase two of the experiment. Laila was part of a test group stationed at the Haven of Peace to see how well they would do off the direct lines. It turns out that must like plants the autotrophic kids can sustain life as long as they are together. Because of this, by the time to pair finds Dr. Emerson, Laila is very sick and they must get back to TroDyn before it’s too late.
Mason’s Mom is worried upon their return because of her mysterious past with the company. But she is willing to help regardless. Once inside Mason meets the man behind this whole operation, he calls himself The Gardener. It turns out Mason’s Mom was hiding a lot from him but with good reason. The Gardener, Solomon, we learn he’s named, is Mason’s father…the one from the video. The blue butterfly tattoo is the same one Laila has, it marks them as autotrophs. Solomon first performed the same experiments on himself. But they ended badly for him & he is now permanently in a wheelchair, hooked up to the organic material feed. His partner, a woman named Eve, is trying to kill him by poisoning him and plans to sell their work to the military.
It turns out that Mason’s Mom used to work for TroDyn as a scientist when she was pregnant with Mason. She left so he wouldn’t become part of the experiment. But not before creating the technology keeping Solomon & the kids alive on their feeds. Luckily Mason comes to the rescue, saving his parents from Eve before it’s too late. But what about the kids in The Greenhouse? They have to be transferred to another facility until the third phase of the experiment will allow them to fully function on their own. Before leaving Mason promises Laila they will be together some day, but how?
Likes- I LOVE S.A. Bodeen as an author, I’ve read almost all of her books & never been disappointed.
This book is really cool, slightly scientific, & futuristic but…I think it’s almost too real, could this really happen in the not too distant future?
Dislikes- I knew the Gardener would be Mason’s Dad pretty early. Younger kids might not make the connection but as soon as Laila’s tattoo was spotted I knew.