Author: Ann Aguirre
Publish Date: Published April 12th 2011 by Feiwel & Friends
WELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE
In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.
As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.
Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first Deuce thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace.
As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.
Like it or not, post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction seems to be here to stay. Personally, I’m in the “like it” camp. To generalize the genre, novels of these types often have a bleak yet adventurous feel. And Enclave by Ann Aguirre is both fast-paced and breath-taking.
As Girl15 becomes Deuce in a naming ceremony and joins those ranked Hunters and Huntresses, Ann Aguirre sets up the world of Enclave extremely well. We understand most of the circumstances governing the world through this exposition and though Deuce has semi-rose-colored glasses on regarding her home in the beginning, we begin to understand some truly uncomfortable truths about the enclave called College as Deuce grows as a character.
Following in the footsteps of other dystopic heroines such as Katniss Everdeen, Deuce is a bad-ass. Well, she’d have to be, to be a Huntress. She’s trained her whole life to fight Freaks and earn the respect of her fellow enclave residents. She’s got fast reflexes and can hold her own against the Freaks and anyone she fights against; sometimes through strategy, sometimes through fighting style.
The prejudices contained below-ground were really interesting to me. While prejudices such as gender or race are virtually nonexistent (HOLLER, by the way. I wouldn’t want to live in College, but that’s the best thing about the place), that doesn’t mean prejudice has disappeared. Those who are considered “weak” have no societal value and are summarily executed. And those who are of a lower class than the governors of College and Hunters, such as Builders or (god forbid) Breeders, are practically spit upon.
The contrast between College and the ravaged world aboveground was interesting as well. It’s not as bad as Deuce thought, but it’s no paradise (despite the wonder she first feels). The danger is still thick in the atmosphere of the book.
The romance that’s introduced between Deuce and Fade is somewhat inevitable, but as it develops and doesn’t smack of instalove, I thought it was really well done. Fade seems to see Deuce as an equal, which is a quality I appreciate in a love interest. I also loved that Deuce developed a friendship with Tegan, who is strong in ways very different from Deuce. It’s nice to see the different kinds of strength that characters can have.
If you’ve read the book and wonder why I’m not mentioning a certain character, I’ll just say this: I don’t want to talk about Striker. He gives me the willies.
Overall rating: 4/5. Fast-paced and grim, Enclave is a good read for any fan of post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction.
Already read (and loved) Enclave? Be sure to stay on the lookout for a review of the sequel Outpost, out September 4th!
And check back on September 11th for my stop on the official Outpost blog tour, when I’ll be interviewing the author, Ann Aguirre!