Zombies! If a book has zombies in it, there is a 99% chance I will read it. Even cameo zombies! Even zombies you can’t be positive are, in fact, zombies! Because zombies are fascinating and awesome. Also because I think I’d do rather well in a zombie apocalypse (and the internet quizzes I’m always taking agree with me, so clearly I’m right). Zombies, in short, rule. When someone recommended me Ann Aguirre’s Enclave, they had me on the hook at that beautiful little z word. And boy was I ever glad to be reeled in.
In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. 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. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.
I pretty much loved the world building in this novel. It read in a new way for me, in the sense that as the character got to see more of the world, the reader got to learn more about it. We experienced her expanding worldview with her. We got the isolation she lived with without enduring a million pages of exposition. We watched the cracks appear as Deuce discovered them. We saw the world fresh through her eyes as she discovered things she never knew could exist. This method was perfect for a novel like Enclave because it kept the general air of mystery and creepiness (Which, let me tell you, was very well done. This book was really creepy without feeling bleak. Hard to do in any post-apocalyptic novel, let alone one with crazy things that want to eat you). Deuce couldn’t possibly know everything so we didn’t get to. It left me wondering in all the right ways without it feeling like a hide-the-ball scenario.
Something in particular I thought was well done was the method of naming the new society members. It ‘s total fate/chance where your drop of blood falls, but what you do with that name and how you view the way you were named? It was fascinating. I found it especially fascinating for both Fade and Deuce, and how they interpreted their names told me a lot about them.
The way the universe was built really fed into the way the plot moved too. The action in this book was perfectly paced. And there was a lot of it. Deuce has feelings, obviously, but she’s also a huntress and so the emphasis o the action and her in it told me more about her than a million pages of her inner-thoughts ever could.
I really, really loved Deuce. Deuce was a strong and capable with a good dose of insecurity and desperation to prove herself. And also, good lord did this girl have her priorities straight. She knew what was important to her. But she also did her best not to judge people who might not feel the same way. She wasn’t cold or impersonal about it – in fact, Deuce is an incredibly loyal and affectionate girl. She’s wonderful at seeing past other people’s ideas and rumors and…all of the random crap that people think about everyone else. Deuce was one of those characters that felt real, like you could talk to her and she’d be a real person and not someone’s idea of that person. That’s a little bit weird now that I write it down, but that’s how it felt for me.
I also really, really loved Fade. I loved that his backstory was so apparent without ever being fully explained. And I loved that we SAW the kind of person through Deuce’s eyes. She knew what everyone said about him, of course, but seeing that unravel and watching the real Fade emerge was amazing.
The one thing that bothered me in this book was that, while the plot stayed intense, the romantic plot sort of fizzled. I wouldn’t exactly say a love triangle was introduced, because I honestly don’t think there was (another boy shows up, sure, but I don’t think we’re intended to take him seriously as an option for Deuce. She sure as heck doesn’t. Not really). It’s just that this great buildup sort of reached a high point and then just plummeted. I understood why, which works in the books favor at least. Still, I would have liked to see a little more resolution to what was actually a surprisingly important hunk of the plot.
My stalking of goodreads/amazon/the internet in general has at least helped me in this regard, because Enclave is the first installment of Ann Aguirre’s newest series, the Razorland books. And yay. Because if there was no sequel to this – if this had been the one YA book in a sea of sequels without one – I would have cried. Because I loved this world and these characters and the way it was all put together and I need more of it. Now. This second. September of 2012 (when Outpost will be released) feels like a million years from now. But don’t let that deter you. Enclave and its characters and world are worth that wait.