Author: Ann Aguirre
Release: April 12th 2011
Genre: Post-Apocalypse, Dystopia, YA
#1 in the Razorland trilogy
Sequels: Outpost (#2), Horde (#3)
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 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.
Another fishy novel that makes little sense. Oh, how I have had such luck lately with my book choices. I was looking for a light, enjoyable read to pass the time until I could read The Offering, and seeing as this is only 260 pages, I thought it qualified. But, alas, no. It wasn't quite as bad as Vessel, and I truly thought about giving it 1 1/2 or maybe even two stars, but it was too inconsistent for that.
So, let me start off with those inconsistencies in the world Aguirre has built in her novel. Nothing was ever truly explained and let me tell you, I'm usually not even that picky about those things if the story at least is good. In Under The Never Sky, after two novels, we still don't really know what the Aether is, but I'm not complaining because the books simply deliver. But in Enclave, there are hundreds of questions left unanswered and the plot doesn't make up for it in the least. I mean I understand if you can't explain everything in the first novel of a series, but please a bit at least. Tell me how the people went to the Underground and started living there, and why. Why do they only live up to 25 underground and longer aboveground? What happened to those "Freaks"? What happened to the Earth that is so apocalyptic? What about that mystery disease that killed so many? Huh? Right, we never get the answers to all that.
Besides that, everything here was just so odd. The narrative felt extremely mechanic and detached, like she was ticking things off a list. "This happened, and then that followed, after that we had to go do this..." I felt like our narrator was a robot with no feelings. None at all. And I don't even know anything about her, except her name, Deuce, and that she's a huntress. What color is her hair? Her eyes? What's her age? Nah, those aren't things we need to know about our MC. And the same applies to our male lead, Fade, the only things I know about him are that he has black eyes and that he is two years older than Deuce. But since we don't have absolute numbers, God only knows what that age is. Hell, for all I know, they could be 12 and 14. And of course Fade is that new guy type, the one who has no friends, trusts no one and who has a mysterious dark past. The heroine is the only one he'll ever love and he will push her away because he is jealous when inevitably, the second guy in this love triangle appears and she spends time with him. Sigh. But hear, even the heroine can't make up her mind about him. I swear to you, she complained about why she was stuck with him out of everyone and twenty pages after that, she was like, "Oh yes I got the BEST partner there is!" Deuce contradicted herself like that so often it was ridiculous.
The other side characters, Stalker, Tegan, Thimble, Banner, you name them, they were okay. 2D, not outstanding, but truly okay, so I have no complaints there.
Ah, plot. Plot was on a hot date with character development, because there was none of that in here. For the first 70 pages, they get the mission of scouring out a nearby enclave encampment and see how things roll there, which is a six day journey, said to be a death sentence. But ohhh no, our brave heroes here take the trek in 30 pages and appear out of it unscathed. And their reward for that is that they're getting one day off. Ridiculous, right? But when they give an honest report of what they saw, one of Deuce's friends is about to be exiled as a warning not to say anything, so she promptly volunteers to take his place (Wait... don't we know that from somewhere...) and Fade goes with her for reasons unknown. Probably because he loves her so much, after those 60 pages or something they have known each other. After their exile, things start to get really blurry and messy, because there is absolutely no purpose anymore in what they're doing. They stumble about aimlessly and then decide to check out the library because why not, knowledge is power right?
Right, Cersei, you know what's up. They don't, however. On the way, they go say hello to one of Fade's friends and then they get attacked by some baddies. While fighting them — and by the way, they apparently manage to kill/injure almost everyone of the 20 that attack them, let me remind you, they are two people — and then some Freak mutants show up and they join forces. After the battle, only one of the bad dudes is left and he basically surrenders and joins up with our ragtag group, which now consists of four people because on the way they also picked up some girl or something.
So, plot, characters and world-building failed me miserably, but is there anything that saved this? The honest answer is no, no there wasn't. There wasn't even one character to lighten the mood, someone who's funny or something. The bleak atmosphere was constantly pressing down on me and breathing down my neck, there was no escape. The only entertainment I ever got was when I misread "I turned to see how they were faring" as "I turned to see how they were farting." Other than that, the characters constantly made stupid decisions that made me rake my hair in frustration (seriously when the Freaks attack just let the bad guys do the dirty work, grab your helpless and GO. Don't stay and help fight them! Jeeez), and they tried so hard to have some layer of emotions and failed hard. Fade has two instances where he's grieving, and Deuce makes some comment about how it's understandable since they've "lost a lot of people on the road." Bullshit. You've lost two people. Two! And you didn't even like one of them, Deuce! Unless you also count the two bad guys that attacked you that one time, too. Now, I'm not saying the loss of two people isn't shocking, but two isn't "a lot." It's not.
All in all, I honestly don't know what to say about this novel. It's not even that it is extremely bad or something, it's just that it is very disinteresting, and simply not good either. There's nothing remarkable about this book, nothing that makes it worthwhile in any way. If you want to give it a chance, then go ahead, it's not a bad book that makes you angry because of how bad it is, but it's just... plain. That's a good word. Plain.
PS: Besides, it's like a bad book rip-off of Bethesda's Fallout franchise. I couldn't help comparing the "Freaks" to the supermutants or Ghouls, and the enclave to the vaults. And making gang rape sound so light and like it's no big deal is never okay. Never.