Saturday, July 27, 2013

Enclave (Razorland #1) by Ann Aguirre - Ashley's Review

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Title: Enclave
Author: Ann Aguirre
Year Published: 2011

My Pre-Reading

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 Deuce 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.

Review: This book surprised me - I was not expecting to fall in love with it as much and as quickly as I did. I knew it was a dystopian book with a strong female main character, but I had no idea what else was in store for me. From the beginning to the end, this book had me hook, line, and sinker.

Although it takes a few chapters for the plot to actually get moving, the set up and background information is still very interesting on its own. I never felt like things were moving too slowly or that there was too much information. The pacing and the detail were absolutely perfect for what was happening. And then, as Deuce learns more about College and the politics behind it, we're thrown into a crazy adventure that keeps throwing more and more surprises at you. I felt like I was right there with Deuce and Fade and the new friends they meet along the way, and I was scared for them most of the time. 

Because aside from the crumbling enclave, there are also the Freaks to worry about. We don't know much about them except that they will eat anything they can except other living Freaks and are pretty slow and stupid. Or at least, they used to be. They kind of have a zombie feel about them, which I loved. I'm kind of on a zombie kick right now, so that was a really pleasant surprise. I just really enjoy how many different variations of zombies there are, and Aguirre manages to take a well known pop culture phenomenon and make it something totally her own. So major props on that. 

Like The Hunger Games, this is a very dark dystopian book (although that's really where the similarities end). We're presented with some very depressing topics, like death and exile and rape, among other things, and I think it's interesting to see how Deuce deals with them. She's very strong, and she's taught that the strong survive her entire life, so I can see how she wouldn't understand how someone would "allow" themselves to be subjected to the things Tegan is subjected too. Deuce is very narrow-minded, and she grows so much over the course of the book, and has so much more growing to do. I'm excited to see how she changes further over the rest of the series.

I also really loved Fade. I'm not sure the romance aspect was set up very well, but I think it eventually worked. I really wish we had the opportunity to see in Fade's mind in this book, but at the same time I don't know that it would have been an effective approach. He's strong, but he's also been hurt, and he kind of hides inside himself whenever things don't go exactly like he thinks they should. I think that makes him very real, and I definitely found myself wanting to give him a big hug whenever he seemed upset. 

All in all, I absolutely loved this book. The plot and the characters and just everything about it made this exactly the kind of story I've been looking for. I would most definitely recommend it to fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent series, and to anyone who enjoys YA dystopians in general. It's dark and scary at times, so I wouldn't recommend it to a younger audience though. I can't wait to read more of the Razorland series, and will be getting my hands on Outpost and Horde ASAP. A 5/5 for Enclave


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