Title: Enclave (Book 1)
Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: April 12, 2011
Source: ARC from Publisher for Review
Official TUBL Rating: A
New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20's. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.Gripping, harsh, and bleak, Enclave is a brutal look at an underground society in a post-apocalyptic world. Aguirre's borderline-disturbing descriptions of gore and the blood, intertwined with the severe dystopian backdrop creates an air of unpredictable suspense. In a world of 'Freaks' and strident conditions, the tyranny of the Enclave reserves no cruelty. The gritty descriptions of the world beyond the Enclave is even worse, but nonetheless horrifyingly vivid.
Deuce is such a strong protagonist. From the very beginning, her mental and physical strength is distinct in her choppy (in a good way), raw narration. She's tough inside and out. Her fierce and unfailing loyalty to those around her is admirable. Amongst her characteristics, the readers will find her ability to overcome pure fear, a rare quality that not many protagonists have. Deuce is independent and truly embodies all of the qualities of a huntress.
As an outsider, Fade's character is much more standoffish and aloof. As Deuce and Fade get to know each other, the spark of romance and attraction is there but neither party talks about it, deriving a stronger sense of tension between the two characters. They have a lot of similarities in terms of values and ability. But Fade, because of his knowledge and street-smarts of Topside, is able to protect Deuce and take care of her, adding to the emotional turmoil between them.
Aguirre's prose completely mirrors the grim and sharp atmosphere that Enclave is set against. The descriptions of the 'Freaks' and the ravaged environment is almost disturbing and unrelenting. As the action and suspense grows, so does the sense of danger. Survival is key and when Enclave ends, readers' hearts will finally relax.
The Bottom Line: The dystopian world here is so vividly descriptive and so much heart-stopping action occurs in so little pages. I was lost in the world of Enclave from the very page up until the very last.