Monday, 24 September 2012
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Series: Razorland #1
Type: Young Adult Dystopian
In College enclave, hidden in the tunnels beneath a ruined New York, people only earn the right to a name if they survive their first fifteen years. Once you age enough to leave the ranks of unnamed brats, you choose a path as a Breeder, a Builder or a Hunter. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember so she is thrilled to join their ranks, even when she is paired with Fade a boy who grew up outside the enclave. A Hunter's job is to patrol the tunnels, bringing back food and fighting the monsters known as Freaks but as the Freaks become more intelligent, Deuce is forced to question the rules she has lived her life by.
This is the first in the Razorland trilogy and it was a book I approached with trepidation. I'd seen good reviews, it sounded interesting, even the trailer looked good but something made me hesitate. Now I've read it I really regret that hesitation as this is an outstanding read. Set in a future where people have taken refuge in underground tunnels, it soon becomes clear the author has really done her research as the narrative has a realistic take on how difficult that life would be.
The dystopia and world building are excellent as by introducing Deuce at the start of her Huntress career, the reader is introduced to the world alongside Deuce meaning that there is no info dumping and the revelations come in some surprising twists and turns. The plot is tightly written and a steady pace is maintained throughout as Deuce's world steadily expands beyond the tunnels that used to be all she knew. The dystopia itself is scarily believable yet leaving room for new facts to emerge.
Deuce is a great lead character as she is strong and relentless. I found it really easy to identify with her, despite the fact our lives have nothing in common. Her determination to serve her enclave and her gradual realisation that things aren't okay made me like her. Fade is the perfect way for Deuce's illusions to be shattered. He doesn't maliciously change her world, just points out things with the perspective of an outsider allowing the revelations to happen naturally. The romance between them takes a backseat to the action but it is nevertheless well written and developed.
The Freaks quickly become a horrifying threat, and their existence develops alongside the main plot. They quickly go from dangerous but stupid monsters, to terrifyingly smart calculating predators a shift which undermines the stability the enclave claims. In some ways this is a book of two halves as the story development leads Deuce and Fade "topside" and out of the tunnels, revealing the reasons behind the downfall of society and more about Fade's past. The storyline flows through the location change and the ending leaves Deuce and Fade ready to continue their adventures.
All in all, this was a great read and I'm really looking forward to Outpost.