My first book review is on Enclave by Ann Aguirre. Published in 2011 by Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of Macmillan), it’s similar to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or Divergent by Veronica Roth. Publishers Weekly even says it’s for “fans of The Hunger Games.” It is the first book of a trilogy. The second book, Outpost, comes out on September 4, 2012. Ann Aguirre’s site can be found here. You can read about Enclave and its sequel, Outpost, as well as the other books that Aguirre has written.
“In Deuce’s world, an enclave deep underground, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed “brat” has trained to join 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 the ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.
Fade doesn’t like following orders. Deuce has never known a boy like him before, someone as likely to touch her gently as use his knives with feral grace.
As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat due to their sheer numbers, now show signs of cunning and even strategy…but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. No matter how hard she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.”
~From the inside flap
“I was born during the second holocaust. People had told us legends of a time when human beings lived longer. I thought they were just stories. Nobody even lived to see forty in my world” (Aguirre 3).
“The beige front had raised letters and green paint, outlining a fanciful design with a girl in strange clothes, a winged brat, and a bird. With some effort, I read the letters: “The Day Boy and the Night Girl. Fairy tales by George MacDonald”” (Aguirre 141).
Warnings: Violence, Implied rape (Tegan’s back story is that she was forced into becoming a Breeder (which is exactly what it sounds like) because she is a girl)
Recommended Age Range: 14+
What I Liked:
This is typical dystopian literature following in the path of The Hunger Games. Strong girl meets enigmatic boy. Girl and boy discover plot and work to overthrow/change society/government. Girl and boy fall in love. It is narrated in first-person (usually present tense) and takes three books to tell. If you like this formula (which I do), then this book works for you. If you don’t, then it doesn’t.
Deuce is strong and a fighter, but she has flaws, insecurities, weaknesses that make her more alive as a character. Aguirre fleshes out her characters nicely, even the ones that she introduces later on. She also has them face some compelling ethical arguments and reasoning that really makes them think more deeply about who they are and what they believe in. The plot has enough twists and realizations to keep the reader interested. It’s a solid book with enough pull to make the reader want to get the sequel when it comes out.
What I Didn’t Like:
While the book is solid, it just doesn’t have the punch that Divergent or The Hunger Games had, which, I feel, sets them above other dystopian literature. I felt that Aguirre didn’t reveal enough; there were too many questions and not enough answers, which, while fitting in with the confusion of the main character, doesn’t work as well for the reader. Aguirre set up the book too much as a trilogy and not enough as a stand-alone novel. In my own opinion, first books in a trilogy need to have that stand-alone quality to them, while still having enough pull to draw the reader to the next book—not because they want the answer to the questions, but because they have invested in the characters and want to know what happens to them. While I want to know what happens to Deuce and Fade—especially after a lovely scene between the two of them near the end—I feel that the book barely got started on plot, which was frustrating to me.
This is a good example of dystopian literature and fans of that genre should definitely pick up this book. However, first-readers should probably go with one of the more well-known novels before diving into this one. Also be aware that it’s a bit violent and some of the situations/descriptions may upset/disturb some.