Enclave is a new YA apocalyptic novel by Ann Aguirre.
Deuce lives deep underground in an enclave where the oldest person is wrinkled and shaky at twenty-five. This is the way it has been since she can remember. Controlled breeding, carefully planned hunting for food, and rules to keep everyone doing their job - surviving.
She is thrilled to be named a Huntress. Always she has admired the strength of the hunters and the way they band together. But when her partner is named and it is Fade, the outcast boy that was not born in the Enclave but found wild and nearly dead in the tunnels at a very young age, Deuce doesn't know what to think. People still avoid him. It's unheard of to survive on your own like he did - and his stories of where he came from were touted as lies. He said he was from the surface, but that is impossible. All there is above is death. But they allowed him to stay if he would fight for them. And he has.
But when one of Fade and Deuce's first missions together has them checking out the neighboring enclave, only to find it has been decimated by Freaks - monsters with yellow skin and razor sharp teeth - the results of the knowledge start to grate on Deuce. They try to tell the leaders that the Freaks seem to be growing more organized, seem to be gaining more thinking and plotting, which proves terribly dangerous to their enclave. But they refuse to believe them, and she starts to realize that she doesn't want to blindly follow the rules of the Enclave...
Fade insists that there is life above ground, but how can Deuce believe him when all she's ever known is darkness?
At first I thought the cover of Enclave was boring, but then much later on I noticed the creepy, clawed black fingers in the bottom right corner. Do you see it? It's hard to see, but then very hard not to notice once you have. Oooh! And once I got a chance to see what the previous cover was, I think it is definitely an improvement!
Enclave has a fantastic, rousing first line that holds promise. We are introduced to our protagonist in a brutal, terrible ritual that presents a small group of people living underground for who knows how long, never living long enough to know their children or pass on much information - of which there is little. The book has that great quality of making you motivated to turn pages, hungry for more info on Deuce's world and its strange customs.
There are chilling reminders of a past - a long forgotten wedding invitation that puzzles them, as they've never heard of a wedding. And then we have our lesson in Freaks - aptly named zombie-like creatures that are more deadly than infectious. Again, we have no answers of where they came from because our characters have no idea, but they are definitely disgusting and deadly.
One disappointment to me, however, was that I did feel like Enclave shared a few too many similarities in tone with other YA dystopia's out there - The Hunger Games, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, etc., - but with a slightly blander feel. Yet Enclave was still suspenseful and scary with a simmering romance that is certainly appealing.
Without giving away too much, I will say that later developments peaked my curiosity all the more. I kept rooting for the novel to kick in gear, get a bit more something. But the positive comments I've made so far still definitely apply! I also loved how Ann Aguirre managed to show us the unmistakable wonder that comes from a story/book, especially in the eyes of someone who has never read/heard one. It felt like a send-up to books, which I liked a lot.
Though I never seemed to become fully attached and invested in the characters like I wanted to, Enclave did present a violent and disturbing apocalypse and a journey for hope that did give me goosebumps as it wrapped up its final pages. Ya know it did something right when ya get goosebumps.
I guess I just feel it could have been stronger and more original - but that could just be me. I can see it being awesome to a lot of you bibliophiles!!! So check it out, and let me know what you thought!
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