Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Enclave (Razorland#1) by Ann Aguirre
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.
Violent, action-packed and freaks… someone compared this to a trilogy I love. Why not? I can see parallels in both the girl and society. Deuce is used to things being the way they are. She’s happy about her role in it. Well, not happy, but satisfied. Her world is a tough one; one where each has a role: their survival being contingent on each member’s strength and their not deviating from their set course. But when she and Fade do deviate, her world is rocked.
Girl15 has moved on to being Deuce, huntress. She grew up with that one goal in mind, and now she’s what she always wanted to be. Like Katniss and Katsa, she’s tough, strong and made to survive.
She’s paired with the mysterious Fade. Fade not really being an accepted part of the group (given his mysterious/dubious past,) they made for a predictable romance. She made me laugh because she just didn’t know how to react. A typical YA heroine? Not really. I felt her reactions appropriate; she was raised to fight. So it was both her being unaware of herself as a girl AND said consciousness slowly unfurling for her that made me laugh. While the romantic pairing was expected, I’d rather it not have gone that way. But praise be, that relationship was not the focus.
The freaks. I’ve been reading a lot books with zombies in them. And I have loved every one of them. Enclave is no exception. They’re scary and bloodthirsty. Each time she had to face one of them off, she showed just how much of a killing machine she really was. She’s awesome! Deuce’s problems are compounded by freaks that are smart or more specifically those that were becoming smart but isn’t that always the case, anyway?
Still, Enclave is so much more than the zombies in it. Her world was already scary and tough. One where people lived to the ripe old age of… 25! One where, a person was considered an adult at fifteen old enough to undergo a sorting ceremony that involved knives and wounds. Now consider the world outside that one! The differences between what she knew and what she later discovered were quite remarkable, her reactions, again, appropriate.
It’s not all good though: Plenty of people have said that the first part was much better than the second. I agree. The first half had Deuce discovering one thing after another, had her acting/reacting almost none stop. The second half slowed down… and just when I thought the action was about to pick up again it ended... ABRUPTLY. Grrr.
Excellent first half, I can't say the same for the second, though.
September 2012 cannot come any sooner.