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.
Hardcover, 259 pages
Published April 12th 2011 by Feiwel & Friends
What I liked:
- Deuce, our heroine. She is determined, brave and loyal. A young lady who wants more than anything to prove herself as a huntress; a fighter and protectorate. As much as I loved her tenacity I also appreciated the side of Deuce that doubted herself and her abilities. Her diffidence makes her character vulnerable and endearing. She is fiercely loyal and self sacrificing. I truly loved this character.
- Fade, the enigmatic hunter partner to Deuce. He is courageous, dependable and misunderstood. A fierce fighter with a tender heart. He has Deuce's back even when she doesn't realize it. I thoroughly enjoyed the development of the bond between Deuce and Fade. It starts shaky and uncertain and evolves into an intense, protective, cohesive partnership.
- The way Ms. Aguirre builds the worlds is astounding. She takes her time paying careful attention to detail until I felt as if I was running through the inky blackness alongside Deuce and Fade. Listening with my heart pounding for the scritch scratch of the creatures in the dark; hunting for the Freaks and fighting to survive. Then the wonder and terror that I experienced as I saw the world topside for the first time through the character's eyes. The narratives of the sky, the moon and rain from the point of view of someone who has lived underground their whole life, are breathtaking; definitely my favorite part of the novel. The description of Spam had me laughing. The writing is fast and thrilling it keeps you on the edge of your seat; and at other times it is beautiful and wondrous.
- Even though this book has a traditional dystopian storyline, it thankfully is void of the many elements that cause me to shy away from this genre. This novel is not overly depressing, nor is it full of brutal violence and the harsh decisions that are made out of necessity for survival. Yes there is violence but it is not gruesome and gory or overdone. This book also tends to take a more optimistic outlook which I found refreshing. A nice departure for a book in this category.
And The Not So Much:
- At first I enjoyed being dropped into the middle of this dystopian society with no sense of time, location or any knowledge of the apocalyptic events that have transpired. The mystery provided suspense and made the story more edgy. As the book progressed there were a few small hints to explain the destruction of modern day civilization, but not enough to answer my questions. Just when the storyline is coming to an end and it appears that the missing information will at last be revealed the book abruptly finishes. I am still wondering what are the Freaks? A zombie? A diseased human? What happened to cause the break down of society? Sickness? Government failure? Starvation? It is frustrating to say the least.
- This book is absolutely thrilling until three quarters of the way through, then it stumbles and falls flat. There is no climax or resolution just an abrupt end. I felt cheated. The story that was so carefully sculpted leading me through the murky underground to the vast, open world topside suddenly changes. It becomes hurried and the characters are shadows of their former selves. Fade especially I am not sure why his character so full of energy becomes withdrawn. I am a fan of series but to read a book that completely draws you in and then has a cliffhangr ending is a tremendous disappointment. It felt like the book slammed shut with a note stating if you want to read the rest you will have to wait until sometime next year and pay more money. At least tie off some of the story threads and give the reader some satisfaction.
Enclave is a book with so much potential. I wish that it had followed through to a thrilling conclusion. I loved and admired the characters and their will to survive in this treacherous new world. I hope that next installment is in the near future. If you are a fan of the dystopian genre then you should read this book and even if you are not I think you should check this out.
Final note after writing this review I went back and read the author's note at the end of the book. It provided some fascinating research information that she used to write this story. Make sure to read it.
"Outside, that enormous, monstrous sky hung over everything, and the size of it made me want to hide."
"A curve of silver hung amid the brighter specks; it looked to me like a curved dagger, pretty but deadly, as if it might slice the sky in two."