Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Book: Enclave
Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release date: April 12, 2011
Source: Borrowed from library
Series: Razorland #1

Summary from Goodreads: In Deuceâ??s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed â??bratâ?? has trained into one of three groupsâ??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 clearâ??to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. Sheâ??s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothingâ??s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuceâ??s troubles are just beginning.

Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesnâ??t like following orders. At first Deuce thinks heâ??s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders donâ??t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; sheâ??s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace.

As Deuceâ??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 strategyâ?¦ 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 sheâ??s ever known.

First impressions: I couldn’t put it down! Could not. I started it on a Saturday night right before bed, and stayed up until I was halfway done. The next day I picked it up and read it straight through to the end. Two sittings and it was over! Few books give as strong of a first impression as that.

Lasting impressions: A taut, suspenseful, realistic dystopian that kept my skin crawling in all the best ways.

Conflicting impressions: I had the same thought as Amanda. Deuce? Her name is Deuce? Please tell me this is a joke.

Overall impressions: I love post-apocalyptic stories. I love strong female characters. I love mysterious cute male characters. I love dystopias where the strong female character doesn’t know how bad things are until she gets a new perspective introduced by mysterious cute male characters.

I knew I was going to like this book. I didn’t know I’d love it.

Ms. Aguirre creates a world so richly detailed that it completely absorbed me. As Deuce stumbled blindly through dark subterranean tunnels, fighting off rabid zombie-like “Freaks,” my heart pounded. I turned the pages so fast I nearly tore them from the book. I had to know what was going to happen! This world was dangerous and surprising and really kept me on my toes. Kudos for the well done suspense.

Deuce is a fairly typical protagonist for a dystopic novel. She’s a bit naive about how the system is working against her, rather than for her. She’s idealistic and wants to contribute to their strict society. She doesn’t like to ruffle feathers. She believes she is being protected and cared for, and that the information she receives from her elders is true and correct. Over the course of the book, we come to realize that her life is not as grand as she thought it once was.

Fade is an outsider in Deuce’s community. He’s not well looked upon, and is only allowed to stay because he’s an excellent Hunter. When he and Deuce are paired together, it’s a punishment of sorts, and she doesn’t want to be stuck with the guy whose last partner died. Deuce is excellent at what she does, and like Fade, is constantly out to prove herself. As they work together to check traps and fight off Freaks – who seem to be getting smarter and more vicious – they are forced to develop a bit of trust. Their relationship gets cemented after a grueling journey to a nearby camp, and it’s at this point that Deuce’s world view starts to change.

It would take all of the fun out of the book to reveal the events that affect Deuce enough to drive her above ground for the first time in her life, and what course her life takes when she’s out from under the authoritarian enclave. The second part of the book reveals a whole new world to Deuce, with different challenges, and it’s where she really is forced to make tough choices.

One of my favorite things about this book is that no one is all good or all bad. The characters each do things that are valiant and despicable. Someone who once was an enemy may become a friend, and friends can always betray you. Deuce can truly only rely on herself, her instincts, her skills as a Huntress, and her humanity to guide her life’s journey. Despite the hellish place America has become, Deuce is determined to persevere.

I can’t wait to see what the next stage in her life brings. Book two, Outpost, is out this fall, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

Waiting on Wednesday – Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme run by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we discuss the books we’re anxiously awaiting for release.

Book: Dearly, Departed
Author: Lia Habel
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Release date: October 18, 2011

Summary from Goodreads: Love can never die.

Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupidâ??s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the deadâ??or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoriaâ??a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her countryâ??s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune, and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horribleâ??until sheâ??s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, sheâ??s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting â??The Laz,â? a fatal virus that raises the deadâ??and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, thereâ??s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

In Dearly, Departed, steampunk meets romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.

I have been excited about this book since December, when I saw an interview with Lia Habel on Badass Bookie’s blog. She is seriously the coolest up-and-coming writer (in my humble opinion) and to top it off, she is seriously nice and talks to people on Twitter. I heart her, and I desperately want to read this book. Is it October yet?

And seriously? That cover makes me swoon. I love the color scheme, the font, the parasol. Someone buy me a parasol! I need one. STAT.

What do you think of the cover? The summary? What books are you waiting on?

Amazingly beautiful and painstakingly crafted signature courtesy of Small Review