review: enclave by ann aguirre

Author: Ann Aguirre
Publication Date: 04/21/2011
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan)
Pages: 259
Source: Library

 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 she 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. 

Girl15. Before the book begins, this is all that Deuce is known as. Before their 15th birthday, brats don't get named in case something fatal happens to them and at 15 they choose their vocation, one of three: Breeders, Builders, or Hunters. Having just turned 15, Deuce is a novice Huntress. Her partner is a quiet outcast Hunter, Fade, and their pairing she feels is a bit of a punishment - that is until she's sent on a mission with him and as a result begins to questions the foundations of the Enclave.

The quote on the front cover suggests Enclave to fans of The Hunger Games series and I'd like to just make a quick comment about that: as a marketing tool it is fabulous, using the wild popularity of Suzanne Collins' reader base as a jumping point. However, I don't necessarily feel that if you like THG that you will necessarily like this book. They are completely different. And although there are a lot of comparisons with Katniss in reviews, Deuce is her own character dealing with her own issues.

The thing I like best about this book is that it's almost a social commentary, and if you haven't already guessed, I love books that touch upon the what ifs of people's actions. There's not much information given in the book about how everything came about, and the bulk of it (which isn't a lot) is in the form of an author's note at the very end. This is speculation based on the information provided, but presumably the Freaks were created as a result of a biological weapon gone wrong. The CDC's attempts at a vaccine were unsuccessful and the only recourse people had was to flee infected areas. I have to say that the use of the word Freaks is an incredibly clever idea on the author's part as it reflects back to the present day people not knowing what they are and uses common parlance to define what they see, and avoids all of the trappings of the word 'zombie' with the reader understanding that Freaks are for all intent and purposes, very much like zombies. The definition is done by the reader, not the characters. I love it.

 As far as Deuce is concerned, people have been living in underground enclaves for as long as anyone can remember and they live there because going Topside is poisonous and full of Freaks, completely inhabitable. Her shock upon eventually going Topside is palpable: her confusion at seeing the sun and not knowing why her skin burns, grass and animals growing and running freely, and especially the lack of comprehension at how people fight amongst themselves given they all have a common enemy. I know that above I commented that Deuce and Katniss aren't necessarily interchangeable, but Deuce is pretty fierce on her own. I like that she investigates and takes in information about her surroundings before making a decision. Deuce doesn't whine or cry - she didn't when she was branded as a Huntress, and she doesn't start even when all she knows about the world is being turned on its head. And I have to say that she and Fade make a pretty awesome team. Fade has a pretty strong personality on his own, but he never forces it on Deuce. He lets her come to her own conclusions and then lets her approach him about whatever questions she has. They are amazing fighters and they work as such a cohesive unit that it was really refreshing not to have any sort of instashipping happen. (Don't get me wrong - there is romance, but it's very, very slight and does not beat you over the head.)

One teeny complaint was that the book ended on a bizarre note, but I can get over that in anticipation for the sequel. The series has been named Razorland and I'm curious to see how that comes to play later on. I'm definitely looking forward to reading Outpost and finding out more about their world and what happens to it.

Note: Because this has been commented upon a few times... the ending is not a cliffhanger. It just sort of stops at a part where I would expect to turn the page for more story. 

6 comments on "review: enclave by ann aguirre"

JessiM wrote: Mon Jun 27, 01:11:00 PM

I also really enjoyed the social commentary aspect of this story. Aguirre definitely gives the reader some "food for thought." I thought Deuce was awesome and so real. I wish the sequel was coming out sooner!

Christy @ TheReaderBee wrote: Mon Jun 27, 02:23:00 PM

I haven't read this yet, but it's on my ever growing to-read list! Glad you enjoyed this, and thanks for the review!

Natalie wrote: Mon Jun 27, 02:51:00 PM

I almost bought this book at Chapters two weeks ago but I held back in order to save up my money....I'm still dying to read it though! I'm curious about the ending now that you said its bizarre lol!

Jenny wrote: Mon Jun 27, 05:02:00 PM

I'm excited to get to this one but if it ends on a cliffhanger, I'll probably wait at least until I can get the second right away.

Lisa wrote: Mon Jun 27, 05:18:00 PM

I've been wanting to read this book since it cam out. Deuce sounds like a pretty kick-butt heroine and I love when novels have a strong female lead.

Christina Reads YA wrote: Tue Jun 28, 04:42:00 AM

Pretty much any time there's a dystopian, it gets compared to the Hunger Games. Same thing goes for Twilight and paranormal romance even though as you wrote, the character is his/her own.

I have been thinking about buying this book for a while. I really liked Ann Aguirre's short story in Corsets & Clockwork. It's good to know that Enclave was a satisfying read and that Deuce was a strong female protagonist. Those books are always the best :). And I agree about the social commentary books.

Also, I really like the sound of Deuce and Fade and their dynamics. You have me wondering about this bizarre ending.... cliffhangers are no fun :(.

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