(Released: April 12, 2011)
From the Cover:
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.
The Enclave is a hard life with castes, the Builders who keep the enclave in repair, the Breeders who insure the survival of their tribe, and the Hunters who protect and feed those who live within the enclave.
She used to be Girl15 but with her naming, she became Deuce. She has two friends who survived to be named, Stone and Thimble. They have their places, and now she has hers. Now all she has to do is prove herself. Prove that she's the Huntress she's been trained to be. Her first partner is the outcast, the boy found wandering the tunnels, more than a little feral. No one knows his age or where he came from, only that he has a great fighting prowess, Fade to those who dwell in the tunnels.
With their only they're second assignment, they find a blind brat from the Nassau enclave, and he claims Freaks have surrounded them. As punishment for breaking protocol, Fade and Deuce are sent to Nassau for recon. They find only Freaks, fat on the remnants of the Nassau tribe, the brat spoke the truth. With their escape, the Burrowers find them, another race living off the tunnels, warning them that they're being tracked. When Deuce and Fade return to the Enclave, no one wants to hear about the Freaks, the loss of Nassau, or that the Freaks are apparently hunting them, with a new intelligence glowing in their blood red eyes.
When Stone is accused of hoarding, the worst crime that can be committed in the Enclave, it's a setup to keep Deuce quite. But, honor and love of her friend refuse to let him suffer for a crime he didn't commit. Now, Deuce and Fade have been sentenced to banishment, sent out into the tunnels to live. But, Fade has other ideas, making his way Topside, to his home, because if they stay in the tunnels, they face certain death either at the hands of Hunters or Freaks, neither a good choice.
But, other things wait for them in the brightness of daylight, none of them good. Now the question is what will get them first.... the Muties, the Gangers, or maybe the Plague and the reason for their cursed existence in the tunnels.
Enclave by Ann Aguirre is a fast pace YA urban fantasy that I had trouble putting down. It's one of the best books I've read in the YA horror/urban fantasy category since The Hunger Games. For some reason, life above ground has ceased, or at least we're lead to believe that's the case by Enclave elders. Who are the Enclaves, why are they in existence, why have the Enclavees been forced into this existence? The elders lead the readers to believe that humanity had to escape for some unknown or forgotten reasons, horribly devastating reasons nonetheless, and the above ground is only for those who wish death from burning rays and blistering rains. The only safety is found in the tunnels. Deuce has accepted everything the elders have told their Enclave, until she sees differently with her own eyes. The elders have become so enshrined in their lies, they've forgotten or refuse to believe the truth, not enough when one of their own brings it to them. For her pains, Deuce is threatened, punished, and as a final nail in the coffin to insure her silence, Stone is threatened with banishment. She can't watch it happen, not like the blind brat was killed or Banner's apparent suicide. She steps forward, claiming his punishment, and Fade as her partner, steps up with her. Both are banished. But, instead of accepting their fate, Fade leads them topside where a new life begins.
Enclave was a one sitting read, start to finish about four hours. I, like Deuce, couldn't believe my eyes when the elders denied the Freaks had overrun Nassau, when Banner's wrists were slashed, when Stone was accused of hoarding. If you looking for an apocalyptic read, this is your book! I loved the flow of the action, the dance of Deuce while in hunter mode, and as time goes on, she learns that no one is strictly one thing, people have many facets, and life is what you make of it. It's a hard lesson and it goes against everything she has known in her life. The Enclave is nothing like she has been led to believe, and it gets worse.
Ann Aguirre tells an awesome tail of wonder, life, and the unknown. If you're looking for a great summer read, YA or not, pick up Enclave, I don't think you'll be disappointed. But, be forewarned, gore, blood, and more are found within the pages. In my personal opinion, it's a great read, and I highly recommend it for the 13 and over crowd, might be a bit scary for the younger set. If you enjoy urban fantasy, the blossoming of young love, the heat of the battle, and shifted realities, this is the book for you. Enclave is a must read.
If you haven't seen the book trailer, you're missing out...
I received my copy for review from Tara@zeitghostmedia.com and the publisher, Feiwel & Friends. All opinions expressed are my own.