For What It's Worth

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

ARC Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

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. (YA)
Deuce has always wanted to be a Hunter and she finally is. She is now one of the elite who helps protect the underground enclave from Freaks, zombie like creatures that have overtaken the only world Deuce has ever known. Except when she’s paired with the mysterious and aloof Fade, the only boy who has ever seen Topside and lived, she begins to question her entire existence and the Elders who control them.
Enclave is another addition the ever growing YA Dystopian genre. I haven’t read that many and I consider The Hunger Games one of the best books ever so I was a little leery as to whether Enclave would live up to what I consider the Holy Grail of Dystopian.
I don’t think Ann is re-writing the genre in any way but man oh man did I love this one! I talked about the characters for days afterwards; I even talked my husband into reading it just so I could discuss it with someone.
I’m not sure why this story resonated with me as opposed to other dystopian novels. Maybe it was that this was a world of children, where no one lives much past their 20th birthday. Maybe it’s the idea of not being able to choose your own path. Or of identifying a “brat” as a number rather than a name (Girl 96 or Boy 12), until you’re old enough to attend the naming ceremony in which you receive a series of cuts with a razor. The number of cuts denotes your profession and what object your blood happens to fall on is now your name.
Your career assignments are either a Breeder, Builder or Hunter, depending on how you best serve the enclave. The Breeder option rankled the most for obvious reasons but the Builder and Hunters bothered me in other ways. Yes, thankfully you are not on a breeding schedule with people chosen only for their genetics, not out of love but nor are you allowed any affection with the opposite sex. All encounters are chaperoned less you produce inferior children that won’t contribute to the enclave. A common touch or a pat on the shoulder for comfort is not allowed.
This is all horrific enough but the way these children handled it was what broke my heart. They dealt with it. Yes, they felt some despair but they weren’t broken, or whiny. They believed the Elders and did whatever helped the whole survive. They acted more mature than most adults I know. For some reason I desperately wanted to give them hope or show them what life could be.
Enclave felt less like a book and more like a movie to me. It is bleak and at moments I didn’t think I could take much more but the story just moves and takes you with it. I could see it. It’s also filled with hope and a surprising amount of humor and humanity. The pacing is perfect. We’re never in any one place too long. The scenes change, characters develop and grow. Just like Deuce & Fade, we have to keep moving on. When they were in the dark tunnels running from the Freaks - I felt like I was there in the tunnels. When Deuce was taking her first gulp of fresh air and seeing a bird for the first time – I ducked, just like she did.
Deuce and Fade meet others on their journey and there was not one character in the book that I didn’t want to know more about. They eventually pair up with two others kids, Stalker and Tegan. Every character was multi layered and complex. Deuce quickly became one of my favorite heroines. No whining, no insufferable internal monologue, she learns from her mistakes. I LOVED her. They all make mistakes and difficult choices to survive. Would I make the same choices? Probably not in some of their cases but I could understand all of them. Even the bad guys weren’t so easy to write off.
Stalker in particular could have been written as the “snarky bad boy” to Fade’s “good guy” but thankfully she didn't go that way. The romance isn’t over played in Enclave. It is but one element, added when it furthered the plot, not as a way to lure young girls to read the book. So much dystopian these days is written as a romance rather than about actual survival. This could very well be a book that guys would be interested in too. My husband read it in four hours and enjoyed it.
Some people may disagree with me on this part but I felt that Enclave had a very satisfying ending. Not until I finished did I realize not much had been answered, yet I wasn’t left frustrated by questions. I was swept up in the journey. There is definitely more ground to cover and I’m happy to say that this is a trilogy (you won’t hear me say that very often!). I can’t wait to take that next step into the world Ann has created.
Really I could go on and on but you get the idea – I loved it. I really hate long gushy reviews myself and I know not everyone will feel the same way but I am so happy to be this excited about a book again.

Rating: 4 out of 4 (gushing complete)

**Be sure to stop back Thursday for my interview with Ann!

Author's website: Ann Aguirre
Twitter: @MsAnnAguirre
Pre-order the book! Enclave (April 12, 2011)
Source: Publisher - Feiwel & Friends for my honest review


  1. Great review and I'm excited to read this book :)

  2. Great review! I am glad to hear it's good, I do like Aguirre

  3. Sounds awesome - I love dystopian, so I'm definitely looking forward to this. Thanks!

  4. Well you certainly enjoyed this, thanks for the big recommendation.

  5. I am reading this book and I just can't get into it. I am going to try a few more chapters and I hope it gets better.

  6. @Mariya - How far along are you? I liked it right from the beginning - maybe it's just not for you. I don't read a lot of dystopian though - I wonder if readers who have read so many lately will like it as much as I did.
    Good luck!

  7. Hadn't really heard much about this, but saw a trailer and it looked a little creepy. Sounds like it is but in a very good way, will add this one to my list. I love dystopian as well, but lately I feel like there is so much of it, I could read nothing but dystopian for the rest of my life and never run out!

  8. So excited to read this one! I've read a couple lately where despite the lack of answers at the end, I still really enjoyed the story and wasn't irritated by my lack of knowledge. Couldn't tell you why sometimes I get really frustrated and sometimes I don't, must be the quality of the story and how involved I am with the characters. Fabulous review Karen!

  9. A heroine who doesn't whine? Doesn't repeat the exact same mistakes over ad infinitum? Doesn't lose her head entirely when boys come into the picture? Does not compute...

  10. Wow, I know I'm going to love Deuce already! And the aspects of the dystopian world sound really great, too! Can't wait for this one now.

  11. I.Want.To.Read.This.Book. LOL. I never even heard about it till you. I've added it to my list. Can't wait to read it so we can discuss it :)

    Love ya!

  12. Sounds great. Adding to my tbr list right now. Thanks, Shari

  13. Finally got a chance to read your review. This book sounds so great and I loved your insight. I look forward to reading it, as I'm a major dystopian lover, too!