Friday, 27 January 2012

Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Enclave (Razorland #1) by Ann Aguirre
Published by Feiwel and Friends 2011

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. 

Enclave was filled with action, violence, blood and lots of gore, combined with the need to survive. 

It takes place in New York City, where after the apocalypse, people have had to move underground and life-expectancy is only at 25. These people live in small communities called enclaves and life is for the most part very basic, with only the simplest of technology. Outside in the tunnels, creatures called Freaks, that were once human before contracting the plague, eat humans and any meat they can find. Children also only receive their name if they survive their first 15 years of life. Before receiving your name in a "naming ceremony", you are simply known as a "brat" or your gender and exclusive number.  When Deuce and her Hunter partner Fade find out that the Freaks are getting smarter, the elders don't believe them. But when Deuce and Fade become exiled, they have to face going Topside: where nothing and no one survives.

The main character is called Deuce, and her story starts shortly before her naming ceremony, and until then she was simply known as Girl15. She's trained her entire life to become a Huntress, and after her naming ceremony becomes so. Deuce was very determined, mostly in proving that she wasn't weak and she wasn't to be underestimated, despite being a "new blood". I found that to be her most favourable and significant trait. She was very persistent on following the rules and her way of life though, so you could see how much the elders' rules had tainted her outlook on how things should be. Fade is an initial outsider, from Topside, found by Hunters and brought in. He was a very different character; in the beginning, we don't really know anything about him but as we learn more about him as the story goes on; he had the right morals and he could clearly see what Deuce could not: that life in the enclave is not how life should be, and things with the elders and how they acted were getting out of control. For this reason, I liked him a bit better and connected with him more. However, the thing I liked most about them both was their companionship. They combined their skills and ultimately made a great team; they learned things from each other. Fade also helps Deuce "see the light" on how things are in the enclave, as it were. Things started to pick up at about page 80 or so, and especially when Deuce and Fade go Topside. Their companionship grew with their need and struggle to survive, and I liked how they supported each other. Together, it's safe to say that they kicked some major ass.

However, I thought the pace in the beginning was far too slow, and I got really frustrated. I also read the word "brat" so many times that it pretty much lost all its meaning and it seemed like it was no longer a word. I also didn't like how the monsters in the tunnels were called "freaks", although there are more names for them later on. I also found the names the characters had in the book to be quite weird. Had moving underground suddenly made people lose the ability to give children normal names in a normal way? I mostly liked the supporting characters, although I found that accepting Stalker into their group after what he'd done just seemed too easy to me. The romance was also shaky - it didn't really connect for me, although we don't really see much of it. Overall, this book was a good read, but I didn't find the story very realistic in some aspects and it was somewhat frustrating. I can see that this series has a lot of potential though, and I want to see where it all goes.

3 stars     

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