Friday, March 15, 2013

Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Enclave (Razorland, #1)

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.
Goodreads / The Book Depository 

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, fantasy
Pages: 259
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

First Line: "I was born during the second holocaust."

Favorite Quote:  “There were different kinds of strength. I knew that now. It didn't always come from a knife or a willingness to fight. Sometimes it came from endurance, where the well ran deep and quiet. Sometimes it came from compassion and forgiveness.”


*Mild Spoilers Ahead*

Enclave is a dark book. The overall mood of darkness and tension is immediately evident from the first page, just the kind of dystopian world that I enjoy, and I expected to love this book. In the beginning, it seemed I was correct in assuming this, because it started off great. I ended up liking it, but definitely not as much as I hoped. 

Enclave's best feature is its protagonist, Deuce, who is intelligent, quick and fierce. She is determined to become a Huntress and protect the people of her underground society from the Freaks (or Eaters, or Muties, depending on who you're asking). I appreciated listening to the story through her eyes for the most part. Another great thing about the novel is the pacing; there's almost never a dull moment, which makes for easy page turning and eagerness to know immediately what happens next. The fight scenes, in particular, are awesome. It took me a while to imagine life in the tunnels, but eventually I formed a pretty decent mental picture, and it wasn't pretty. As far as world-building goes, I thought it was fairly believable. 

Something that took me by surprise was the abrupt change of setting. For maybe the first hundred pages or so, Deuce is underground, and then something happens that forces her and her hunting partner, Fade, to go Topside, up and out of the dark. I don't know, maybe I thought there would be some kind of build-up to it, but they're kicked out within almost two pages. And the way Deuce's friend, Stone, so easily believed her to be traitorous makes me wonder how strong their friendship really was. 

Probably the real reason this isn't a four-star book is the romance. I was really enjoying the thing Deuce had going on with Fade throughout Enclave, and really wanted one of them to declare their feelings at some point. They do get close, but when Fade goes through some difficulties Topside, they grow apart. It was frustrating because the only thing Fade really needed was some compassion, some reassurance, and Deuce just didn't know how to give it to him. I appreciated the overall line of thinking that only the strong survive, and you can't be weak, but you can't get rid of empathy and kindness completely. Deuce says in the book that she understands this, but she never really demonstrates it. 

So while Fade is being depressed, a new guy enters the scene, and his name is Stalker. It was unthinkable for him to become a love interest when he's first introduced, seeing as how he almost kills Fade, wants to breed Deuce, and is just not a nice person. But he ends up tagging along with them, and spends more and more time with Deuce. I waited to see if maybe he would grow on me, but he didn't; it only felt like Deuce went running to another guy because she couldn't comfort Fade; she doesn't understand his sadness. 

Even though the romance in Enclave frustrated me quite a bit, I'd still recommend and and will check out the sequel, Outpost, at some point. 

3.5 stars

Books in this series:

1. Enclave
2. Outpost 
3. Horde 

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