ENCLAVE by Ann Aguirre: Four stars
New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20's. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.
First of all, I have to say that I absolutely loved the protagonist of this novel, Deuce—and not just because she shares my nickname.
Deuce is a strong, extremely capable fifteen-year-old girl who can kick some serious butt. She defies the word helpless in every way, preferring to fight her own battles than wait around for some hot guy to save her. And reading about her was a breath of very fresh air!
Now that I’ve got that out of my system:
I really enjoyed the story as a whole. I haven’t read all that much dystoptian fiction, but of what I have read, this is definitely one of my favorites. Aguire’s pacing is excellent, her characters real and complicated, and her plot interesting. There some good twists thrown in, and Deuce’s confusion with the outside world makes for some entertaining moments.
The Freaks are pretty creepy villains, and Deuce’s battles with them are exciting—though they’re somewhat gory, so squeamish beware. Fade makes a great male lead. I was especially excited about the fact that he was tall, dark, and handsome without being tall, dark, and brooding. That and there is nothing supernatural about him—except his awesome fighting skills.
I really wanted to give this book five stars, but I just couldn’t. As great as the characters and story were, there were a few things that bothered me. I’ll try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, here, but the characters occasionally do things that are not only out of character but just irrational.
The book also contained one of my growing pet peeves—though it doesn’t show up until about three-fourths through the book. I thought I was going to make it through the whole book without seeing it, but then, yes, the dreaded love triangle reared its ugly head.
Overall, the book was great. It’s a fun, quick read—only 260 pages or so—and original.
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