Eli has been living with his parents in The Compound for six years. The Compound is an elaborate nuclear bomb shelter his father spent an enormous amount of money to build in order to keep his family safe from nuclear fallout. The plan is to stay underground for fifteen years until the radiation danger has passed.

Eli has had the hardest time adjusting to life in The Compound. In his six years there he has steadily distanced himself from everyone in the family. He maintains a strict schedule of exercise, studying, chores, and reading. His lonliness comes from the fact that not everyone made it to The Compound. During the nuclear attack that led his family to The Compound,