Friday, June 10, 2011

Review: Enclave

Ann Aguirre
Young Adult/Dystopian
Razorland/Book 1
Feiwel & Friends/April 12, 2011

From the inside cover ~

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 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.

Once again, another well known author of adult fiction has branched out into Young Adult territory. Ann Aguirre has made a name for herself, first with her Sirantha Jax series, then her Corine Solomon series. If that wasn't enough, she also writes under the pen names Ava Grey and Ellen Connor (with Carrie Lofty). Yet, Ms. Aguirre has managed to find time to write her first YA novel and how lucky we are that she has!

Brutal, harsh, creepy, suspenseful, gruesome - all could be used to describe the world of Razorland. It's a place where survival is a daily gamble, never knowing who will fall victim to the Freaks that prowl the tunnels. But it's not just the Freaks that might get you. The laws ruling the enclave of survivors are made to eliminate the weak, going so far as to breed them out. If you don't follow the rules, you are banished from the enclave to take your chances in the tunnels with the Freaks. The story opens with Deuce's birthday, which brings her pride because it is her naming day. She is also aware that it brings her that much closer to her death.

[Deuce] Today was my birthday. Each one added a layer of fear, and this year, it was worse. I lived in an enclave in which our oldest had seen twenty-five years. His face was withered, and his fingers shook when he attempted the smallest tasks. Some whispered it would be a kindness to kill him, but they meant they didn't want to see their futures written in his skin.

The story is told in Deuce's POV and she gives it a unique view as her limited knowledge of the world outside her enclave grows. Deuce is smart, compassionate, a loyal friend, a fierce fighter and most of all a survivor. It was easy to slip inside her head and see this bleak world through her eyes. I liked how Aguirre didn't keep Deuce from absorbing the darker side of this world. As Deuce's knowledge grows, her innocence fades. She realizes that everything and everyone are not as they seem and she must change her perceptions if she is to survive.

Fade becomes Deuces partner when she becomes a Huntress. Not much is known about Fade. He keeps to himself so the little knowledge that Deuce does have is supplied mostly from rumors. She does know that he is the best fighter and there is a lot she can learn from him. Their relationship has to grow quickly because they must rely on each other when hunting. Alone, they would have little chance of defeating a band of Freaks so they must work together.

The story progresses quickly, with Deuce and Fade patrolling and hunting. The fight scenes against the Freaks are ferocious, it's always a fight to the death. As the Freaks' tactics begin to change, becoming more coordinated, Deuce and Fade also face trouble within their enclave. The emotions Aguirre evokes are savage in their honesty. It is a brutal world but it's the only one Deuce knows - it is her home. Which makes her loyalty to her enclave hard to witness as they don't hold that same degree of loyalty for her.

As Deuce and Fade are forced to make desperate choices, they also expose themselves to the truth and must trust in those truths if they are to survive. As the story progresses, Deuce and Fade strike out on their own, now completely dependent on each other. We see how they must adjust to this new world and how it tests their fragile bond. I did expect that bond to be stronger than it was and not become stretched so tight. The ending was more a beginning and will leave the reader wishing for the next chapter in this conflicted world of survival.

Enclave is truly an intense world filled with compelling characters you won't soon forget. I can not wait to read Outpost!

Rating: A-

Books in this series ~

Outpost (Tentative ~ Fall 2012)


  1. Oh this is a YA read... I was wondering. I've seen it all over the place, but didn't read the reviews because I was thinking of getting it because it's Ann Aguirre. LOL, this is the first time I really looked at the summary. :)

    So glad you enjoyed it so much!

  2. Good review, Leslie :)

    Just out of curiosity, have you read Ms Aguirre other books/series? Did you enjoy them?

    I've read her Jax series and meh... I have her other urban fantasy series that I should give a try to... Although then again, dystopian is not my favorite genre... so maybe I should just continue skipping her ^_^;

  3. Great review Leslie. I really enjoyed it too. Lent it to my coworker too who couldn't stop gushing about it. LOL

    I can't wait for the sequel-I have to know what happens!!

  4. Hils ~ Yep, her first YA. If you like dystopian and her writing then I'd give it a try. Warning: the next book isn't due out until fall 2012.

    Nath ~ I've read the first 2 or 3 of her Jax series and liked it. Need to catch up with it. Haven't tried her Corine series or the Ava Grey. Maybe you should try what you have in the tbr pile before giving this a go. :)

    Ames ~ Thanks! Wish we didn't have to wait so long for Outpost!