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Enclave Hardcover – April 12, 2011
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"Spooky-cool, grimly gorgeous, tactile, tough, and terrifying."
-national bestselling author Sharon Shinn
"Loved it. The only thing scarier than Reavers are Freaks."
-Gwen Hayes, author of Falling Under
"Aguirre's young adult debut is a gripping survival story set in an apocalyptic future. . ." --Booklist
About the Author
Ann Aguirre is a national bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, two cats, and one very lazy dog. She likes all kinds of books, emo music, action movies and Dr. Who. She writes urban fantasy (the Corine Solomon series), romantic science fiction (the Jax series and the spinoff the Dread Queen), steampunk fantasy with her husband, Andres, and YA.
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I'm so glad I did.
Enclave's a fast-paced book focused on the world of Deuce; a huntress in a underground enclave living in a post-apocalyptic United States and in a semi-dystopia. College, the name of her Enclave, is supposed to be this safe place with all these rules that make it the best place for all of it's people, but as time passes Deuce realizes this isn't true. Not that Fade, her fighting partner and future interest, wasn't aware. He wasn't born in the Enclave; he's from Topside (above ground).
This book gives you Freaks/Muties/Eaters (read; zombies), action, romance, and intrigue. I can't recall how long it took me to read this book the first time I read it, but it took me about 4-5 hours this time. Yes. This is book is that good and it's that short, so you aren't missing much time just in case you decide you don't really like it.
I will definitely be reading the sequel Outpost, I currently own it, along with the novellas Foundation (Book 0.5) which I haven't read and Endurance (book 1.5) which I have read and will be re-reading!
The story is about a Brat (what we call a kid), who reaches her naming ceremony and becomes a Hunter. She is named, Deuce, and we follow her battles to live up to her dreams. To become a trusted Hunter and provide the food and protection for the tribe. She is paired up with a partner named, Fade, who is also trying to prove his worth, given that he was born somewhere else and taken into the tribe because of his strength. In order to survive, the Enclave elders have set rules in place. They aren't always fair, they aren't always logical, and they aren't always tasteful. The rules are black and white. You either follow them, or you break them. And if you break them, the punishment can be extreme.
Needless to say, some rules are broken, and Deuce and Fade are exiled from the Enclave. We follow the trials of this unlikely duo as they fight against the deadly threats that live underground, and watch as their trust and friendship grows. Deuce is caring and considerate, it's no wonder that she dreamed of being a Hunter, to care and provide for others. Their journey leads them back to the surface, where they find that there actually are other survivors, themselves caught up in their own nightmarish society that has also evolved in isolation.
The big message I got from this book was that humans grow into what they see. It shows how we can grow and believe things based solely on what we learn, whether it's right or wrong. If elders tell us something is blue, we believe and it becomes fact. If they tell us that no one else survived the end of the world, we believe and it becomes fact. Like, Deuce not knowing what a shop was, but upon seeing one, learning that it is a good idea. Or, when Twist secretly helped them with food and water when they were exiled, and Fade wondering why he would do such a thing. Fade's life had never experienced one person helping another, it was always just 'the strong survive', so it seemed like such a strange thing for someone to do.
Along the way Deuce and Fade are joined by two from topside. Stalker and Tegan are characters at extreme ends of their own tragic society. Stalker, the brutal leader, and, Tegan, the worthless weakling. Necessity brings the four together and they embark on a journey to a legendary safe place in the north, borne from distant memories of Fade's childhood.
Finally, they reach a place called Salvation, and I was gearing up for some answers and perhaps a climactic event with the Freaks. My Kindle book showed a little over 60%, so I read with an air of anticipation. Tegan was at the doctor, I was concerned for her wellbeing, given her injuries. The others sought refuge, I wanted to see them safe and planning their next move. I turned the page and then the blood drained from my face. The book finished. There was no more story to read. The end hit me in the face, it was completely unexpected. Bummer. I know that it is a series, but I have to say I was a tad surprised with its end.
In a nutshell
This book is great at showing that society is built on what one generation passes on to the next. It clearly shows the paths taken by different isolated groups can make them so different, but yet so similar. It's a good read, but be warned about the sudden ending. It's an incentive to move onto the next book in the series.
Note: I don't claim to be a pro-reviewer, I am a reader. My reviews are based on my personal thoughts around the story that the book is trying to tell. I try to focus on the story (which is the reason I read) rather than dissect the book and pass comment on typos, writing style or structure.
This bizarre underground culture is well-drawn, and the author has partly based it on a book from the 1990's describing the subculture of people living in NYC's subway tunnels. It's dark and brutal, but the characters pulled me in. My only complaint would be that at times the authenticity of the narrative voice waivers - it is told from the perspective of a 15-year old girl Deuce, but at times she lapses into descriptive words that she wouldn't know based on her underground existence (i.e. 'starry'.) As her fate entwines with a young man, Fade, there are hints of romance.
Having now read the entire trilogy, I will say that overall it's very original, quite different from Hunger Games etc,, though retaining the heroine. This combines bits from the zombie/monster genre with the Hunger Games/Allegiant type books, so if you liked any of those, you may like this too.