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Enclave (The Razorland Trilogy) Paperback – TV Tie-In, August 7, 2012
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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
I was born during the second holocaust. People had told us legends of a time when human beings lived longer. I thought they were just stories. Nobody even lived to see forty in my world.
Today was my birthday. Each one added a layer of fear, and this year, it was worse. I lived in an enclave in which our oldest had seen twenty-five years. His face was withered, and his fingers shook when he attempted the smallest tasks. Some whispered it would be a kindness to kill him, but they meant they didn’t want to see their futures written in his skin.
“Are you ready?” Twist stood waiting for me in the darkness.
He already wore his marks; he was two years older than me, and if he’d survived the ritual, I could. Twist was small and frail by any standards; privation had cut runnels into his cheeks, aging him. I studied the pallor of my forearms and then nodded. It was time for me to become a woman.
The tunnels were wide and laid with metal bars. We had found remnants of what might’ve been transportation, but they lay on their sides like great, dead beasts. We used them for emergency shelters sometimes. If a hunting party was attacked before it reached sanctuary, a heavy metal wall between them and hungry enemies made the difference between life and death.
I had never been outside the enclave, of course. This space comprised the only world I’d ever known, cast in darkness and curling smoke. The walls were old, built of rectangular blocks. Once they had borne color but the years had worn them gray. Splashes of brightness came from items we scavenged from deeper in the warren.
I followed Twist through the maze, my gaze touching on familiar objects. My favorite item was a picture of a girl on a white cloud. I couldn’t make out what she was holding; that part had worn away. But the words in bright red, HEAVENLY HAM, looked wonderful to me. I wasn’t sure what that was, but by her expression, it must have been very good.
The enclave assembled on naming day, everyone who had survived to be named. We lost so many when they were young that we just called all the brats Boy or Girl, along with a number. Since our enclave was small—and dwindling—I recognized each face shadowed by the half-light. It was hard not to let the expectation of pain knot my stomach, along with the fear I would wind up with a terrible name that would cling to me until I died.
Please let it be something good.
The oldest, who carried the burden of the name Whitewall, walked to the center of the circle. He stopped before the fire, and its licking flame painted his skin in terrifying shades. With one hand, he beckoned me forward.
Once I joined him, he spoke. “Let each Hunter bring forth his gift.”
The others carried their tokens and piled them at my feet. A mound of interesting items grew—and a few of them, I had no idea what purpose they might’ve served. Decoration, perhaps? People in the world before seemed obsessed with objects that existed simply to look pretty. I couldn’t imagine such a thing.
After they finished, Whitewall turned to me. “It’s time.”
Silence fell. Cries echoed through the tunnels. Somewhere close by, somebody was suffering, but he wasn’t old enough to attend my naming. We might lose another citizen before we finished here. Sickness and fever devastated us and our medicine man did more harm than good, it seemed to me. But I’d learned not to question his treatments. Here in the enclave, one didn’t prosper by demonstrating too much independent thought.
These rules permit us to survive, Whitewall would say. If you cannot abide by them, then you are free to see how you fare Topside. The eldest had a mean streak; I didn’t know if he had always been that way, or if age had made him so. And now, he stood before me, ready to take my blood.
Though I had never witnessed the ritual before, I knew what to expect. I extended my arms. The razor glinted in the firelight. It was our prized possession, and the oldest kept it clean and sharp. He made three jagged cuts on my left arm, and I held my pain until it coiled into a silent cry within me. I would not shame the enclave by weeping. He slashed my right arm before I could do more than brace. I clenched my teeth as hot blood trickled downward. Not too much. The cuts were shallow, symbolic.
“Close your eyes,” he said.
I obeyed. He bent, spreading the gifts before me, and then grabbed my hand. His fingers were cold and thin. From whatever my blood struck, so would I take my name. With my eyes closed, I could hear the others breathing, but they were still and reverent. Movement rustled nearby.
“Open your eyes and greet the world, Huntress. From this day forward, you will be called Deuce.”
I saw the oldest held a card. It was torn and stained, yellow with age. The back had a pretty red pattern and the front had what looked like a black shovel blade on it, along with the number two. It was also speckled with my blood, which meant I must keep it with me at all times. I took it from him with a murmur of thanks.
Strange. No longer would I be known as Girl15. My new name would take some getting used to.
The enclave dispersed. People offered me nods of respect as they went about their business. Now that the naming day ceremony was complete, there was still food to be hunted and supplies to be scavenged. Our work never ended.
“You were very brave,” Twist said. “Now let’s take care of your arms.”
It was just as well we had no audience for this part because my courage failed. I wept when he put the hot metal to my skin. Six scars to prove I was tough enough to call myself Huntress. Other citizens received less; Builders got three scars. Breeders took only one. For as long as anyone could remember, the number of marks on the arms identified what role a citizen played.
We could not permit the cuts to heal naturally for two reasons: They would not scar properly and infection might set in. Over the years, we had lost too many to the naming day ritual because they cried and begged; they couldn’t bear the white-hot conclusion. Now Twist no longer paused at the sight of tears, and I was glad he didn’t acknowledge them.
I am Deuce.
Tears spilled down my cheeks as the nerve endings died, but the scars appeared one by one, proclaiming my strength and my ability to weather whatever I found out in the tunnels. I had been training for this day my whole life; I could wield a knife or a club with equal proficiency. Every bite of food I ate that had been supplied by someone else, I consumed with the understanding it would be my turn someday to provide for the brats.
That day had come. Girl15 was dead.
Long live Deuce.
* * *
After the naming, two friends held a party for me. I found them both waiting in the common area. We’d come up together as brats, though our personalities and physical skills put us on different paths. Still, Thimble and Stone were my two closest companions. Of the three, I was the youngest, and they’d taken pleasure in calling me Girl15 after they both got their names.
Thimble was a small girl a little older than me, who served as a Builder. She had dark hair and brown eyes. Because of her pointed chin and wide gaze, people sometimes questioned if she was old enough to be out of brat training. She hated that; there was no surer way to rouse her temper.
Grime often stained her fingers because she worked with her hands, and it found its way onto her clothing and smudged her face. We’d gotten used to seeing her scratch her cheek and leave a dark streak behind. But I didn’t tease her anymore because she was sensitive. One of her legs was a touch shorter than the other, and she walked with a whisper of a limp, not from injury, but that small defect. Otherwise, she might easily have become a Breeder.
Because he was strong and handsome, but not especially bright, Stone landed as a Breeder. Whitewall figured he had good material in him, and if matched with a clever female, he should sire good, solid offspring. Only citizens with traits worth passing on were allowed to contribute to the next generation, and the elders monitored births carefully. We couldn’t allow more brats than we could provide for.
Thimble rushed up to examine my forearms. “How much did it hurt?”
“A lot,” I said. “Twice as much as yours.” I gave Stone a pointed look. “Six times as much as yours.”
He always joked he had the easiest job in the enclave, and maybe that was true, but I wouldn’t want the burden of making sure our people survived to the next generation. On top of siring the young, he also shared the responsibility of looking after them. I didn’t think I could deal with so much death. Brats were unbelievably fragile. This year, he’d sired one male, and I didn’t know how he dealt with the fear. I could barely remember my dam; she’d died young even by our standards. When she was eighteen, a sickness swept through the enclave, likely carried by the trading party from Nassau. It took a lot of our people that year.
Some citizens thought the offspring of Breeders should stay in that role. There was a quiet movement among the Hunters to take their number from their own—that once a Hunter got too old for patrols, he or she could sire the next crop of Hunters. I’d fought my whole life against that thinking. From the time I could walk, I’d watched the Hunters going off into the tunnels and known it for my destiny.
“It’s not my fault I’m handsome,” he said, grinning.
“Stop, you two.” Thimble got out a present wrapped in faded cloth. “Here.”
I hadn’t expected this. Brow raised, I took...
Top Customer Reviews
I'm a huge fan of dystopian fiction, I loved Hunger Games, Shipbreaker, Z for Zachariah, World War Z, The Passage, 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale, but with Enclave, Ann Aguirre proves that there is still plenty of creative and terrifying stories to tell about society and how it will end (not with a bang, but with a growl of hunger in this case).
Girl15, that's her name, until the naming ceremony where she will learn whether the rest of her life (a very short life, the oldest person she knows is 25) will be spent as a Breeder, a Builder or a Hunter. She wants to be a Hunter and Girl15 gets her wish, her name is changed to Deuce and she is paired with Fade, a strange and mysterious figure who no one else wants to work with. I'll get back to Fade later.
Her dearest friends, Thimble (a builder) and Stone (a breeder because he's so handsome) are happy for her but worried. Hunters have the dangerous job of providing food for the College Enclave (that's the name of the enclave, College). Most hunters don't live very long, in fact, Fade's last partner died shortly after they started working together.
But Deuce is determined, as far as she's concerned, being a Hunter is one of the most important functions a person can have and she's proud to put her life in danger everyday to provide food and safety for the rest of the Enclave.
Fade, her new partner, is a strange combination of lethal skills and smartass defiance. He isn't from the enclave, he was born topside (above the tunnels where the land is dead and burning rain falls or so the elders say), but no one really believes him.Read more ›
Enclave by Anne Aguirre
If a book could render me speechless it would be ENCLAVE. So, I sat and thought about it for about a week. I don't want to destroy it with words like amazing, wonderful, spectacular, it just doesn't convey what this book was for me. It devoured me. Everything I was went into reading ENCLAVE within a 12 hour period. I opened the first page and did not take a breath until I read the last page. The originality of this piece was fantastic. There are only so many ways you can pen a dystopian novel and I think Ms. Aguirre stepped out of the box, showed us bits and pieces that we were familiar with and then added so much more. I'm in love with some of the dystopian books that I have read lately and I can't believe I found another to add to it's ranks. It's hard being published in a world that is going to compare you to the craziness that is The Hunger Games legacy - but these books are giving THG a run for their money. ENCLAVE now joins the ranks of the amazing YA Dystopian revolution that is happening this year. I can't wait to be be devoured by book two.
In a world ravaged by war and plague, what is left of the human race has splinted off into groups and become basically separate entities. Deuce's is world is called the Enclave. In her world 20 years of age is pushing geriatric status. At her 15th birthday she is finally given a name instead of Girl and her number designation and she is also given a role. She has had only one goal for most of her life, to become a Huntress.
After her naming ceremony she is paired with Fade an enigma of a man. He came from outside to live within the enclave and has not made many friend.Read more ›
Though there were some interesting aspects of the world created here, and I got through the book quickly enough, there were numerous crippling problems with its implementation that troubled me. It's hard for me to say which bothered me more, the way emotions were handled or the way chapters were constructed.
The constant use of the same blunt, deadweight phrasing to express the narrator's emotions seemed pitiful and juvenile. "Disbelief blazed through me." "Horror surged through me." "Warmth curled through me." Curled? Instances of this type of phrase with mismatched emotions performing strange actions like "sparkled" occur dozens and dozens of times throughout the book and in some areas nearly on every page. Uninspired doesn't do it justice. I just don't understand why the author chose to depend so heavily on a phrase so ill-suited to do anything other than provide one-dimensional labeling. It didn't resonate with me at all. So many things went through Deuce that she was worse off than a piece of Swiss cheese by the end.
Chapter after chapter ends with a sudden appearance of freaks that are then easily vanquished in the first few paragraphs of the next chapter. Most of these attacks seem stuck in as a rudimentary way to keep the action high despite having no possible impact on the story. For readers, it's definitely a case of fool us once, shame on Ann, but fool us twice, shame on us. It gets obvious by the second time that the freaks pose no real threat no matter how many times we're told how smart they are.
Switching to the positives, I did find that this book improved as it went along and hit its peak somewhere in the middle.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For someone who does not read that often, I really enjoyed "Enclave." I was assigned to read this book in class, and was very skeptical to read it at first. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Ryan Coccoluto
Post-apocalyptic tale that has elements in common with many, but some twists to keep it interesting. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Tim Lumsden
I love this book! Entertaining and wild. Wouldn't recommend for the under 13 crowd.Published 17 days ago by Az Mama Bear
Imagine a world where monsters lurk around literally every dark corner and your community has a grotesque idea of what society should look like. Read morePublished 1 month ago by bzamora_14
This was a really engaging read. If you liked Hunger Games and the Uglies series, you will enjoy this series too.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
This book had a lot of interesting stuff going on. I understand a lot of people didn't like the whole Stalker situation, but to me he is the way he is because that is what he was... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Candace Robinson
Left me wanting to know more. Fast pace so it wasn't slow but not too fast that there weren't sufficient details.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer