Eli hates his birthday. How could he not when the Worst Day of his life happened on his ninth birthday? On that day there was a nuclear explosion. His family was lucky to be able to get to his father’s underground compound in time. Or at least most of his family: his beloved grandmother and second-self twin brother didn’t make it to the compound in time.
Eli and his family have been living in the compound for the last six years, and have another nine years to go before the outside world is safe again. At first everything was great: their father’s billionaire status meant that when he built the compound, it had every luxury, and plenty of provisions. But over the years accidents and, possibly, sabotage, have meant that the family is living with the specter of starvation. Eli’s father has a desperate plan, but Eli isn’t quite sure he’s willing to go along with it, even if the alternative is starving to death. But then something happens that leads Eli to believe that perhaps everything is not what it appears to be.
Author S.A. Bodeen keeps the tension high in this teen thriller. The claustrophobia of living in tight quarters for years at a time is palpable, as is the twisted and dysfunctional family relationships that are a direct result of this. Some aspects of the book were a bit unbelievable, such as the fact that in five years, Eli has never been behind the yellow door. Others, while slightly far-fetched play right along with the premise, and can be forgiven. While the book really wants to have significant character development, that was never the focus of the story. The real merit to the book is in it’s plotting and setting: trapped beneath the ground.