by Ann Aguirre
Synopsis: (From Amazon)
WELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE 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.
Why I Picked this Book: Honestly? The cover. It was mostly all about the cover. Then I read the first page, and I wanted it even more.
The first few chapters of Enclave pulled me in. I was intrigued with this underground world, curious as to what drove them to live like rats in the shadows, and mortified at some of the happenings that were going on in their own world. Aquirre's writing is easy to read and flows along, pulling you quickly into the story without hesitation.
I liked the MC, Duece. There was something about her personality that made me want to find out what happened to her next. Maybe it was her toughness. Her desire to be soft but her training to never soften. Something. At times I was a bit perturbed with her seeming inability to feel, but I was able to get past it. Mostly.
As for the plot. This book is in two parts. Below ground, and above. If I had to pick a favorite, I would choose part one (Below). Both parts had a very different feel to them. I found I cared more about the underground world that these kids had created, than the above ground world, abandoned and rotting. The idea that they lived mostly in the dark. That living to age 25 made you an elder. That these things called "Freaks" roamed the tunnels and ate you alive... I liked that. Alot. I would have happily read the entire book just in that world, never bothering to find out what was above their heads. I wanted to know more about the other enclaves. More about some of the barely mentioned characters, including the barely explained death of one certain lady. I was pulled into this underground world... then I was cast out.
The second part dragged. I wanted the story to wrap up, to get that awesome climax that made me go "Ah, there's Duece!" but instead... they walked. Then slept. Hunted. Walked... oh, THERE's the ending! Wait, what? That's not what I was hoping for... Dang it.
The idea behind the Freaks, and why the world ended, never seemed fully explained. Were they zombies? Mutations? Weird hybrids? Maybe I just missed the explanation... but when I close a book and feel like I still didn't "get it"... it makes me sad. Maybe I am just a detail freak. I know it is good to leave some things to mystery and in the shadows. It leaves room for that sequel, right? Still, I was just dying to know. Hey, must mean she did hook me, right?
I loved the plot of this book. The characters were believable. Their drive was evident. I think that if the second half hadn't dragged quite as much, and if a bit more had been explained, this book would easily have landed a 5 star from me. As it is though, I just can't do that. In some cases I would give a 3, but something inside just won't let me do that to the Enclave. Blame is on the Hunter in me. Or is it the Breeder... (Ok, book reference... looks like you need to read it!)
Enclave is a great read for someone hoping to add to their dystopian craze. With my few minor complaints aside, this is a book I will gladly keep on my bookshelf.
(4 out of 5 stars)