Compulsion is the story of Jake Martin, a boy completely obsessed with prime numbers. He has to do the same thing every morning, and when he doesn't, he spends his whole day freaking out about it. He constantly checks the time, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing the digits so he gets a prime. When he can do it, he feels calm and safe. When he can't, he gets a panic attack until the next minute comes and he can try again. It was a little strange, and more than a little annoying when he couldn't get the numbers to work, but I could. And I'm not even the one with the obsession. Another thing that was annoying was that, when it came to manipulating the numbers, he didn't seem to have any rules. He would use some digits once, and others many times. He almost always used the digits, so if the time was 6:38, he could add 6 and 3 and 8, but I found one instance (there could be more that I didn't notice) where he added a 20 instead of a two. While the concept was interesting, and I can almost understand his obsession with numbers (although I greatly prefer composites to primes, the more factors, the better), it was not much fun to read. There was something familiar about it, sitting in the back of my mind, and it suddenly popped out when Jake compared life to a merry-go-round. Ah ha! It is The Catcher in the Rye! A depressed teenage boy who believes that no one can understand him, and who doesn't care about anyone except for his little sister. Both Holden and Jake are haunted by something in their past; Holden by the death of his brother, Jake by the time his little sister broke her arm and his mom wasn't home. They both also end up getting together with a girl they hadn't seen since they were very young. By the end of both books, the boy admits that he needs help. Compulsion had the same overall feel as The Catcher in the Rye; that dreary, shadowy, stuck in someone else's awful world kind of feel.
This book deserves a 2. It was like opening a jar of pistachios, taking one out, and pulling the shell apart only to find that it's one of those empty ones.