Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Girl15 was dead. Long live Deuce.”
Set in a post apocalyptic world, this dystopian novel takes us on a tense and mesmerizing journey through the eyes of a 15 year old girl- Deuce. Deuce, formerly known as Girl15, was born during the second Holocaust. She has survived her first 15 years of life and has earned the right to be named and to hunt. Born and raised in an enclave, Deuce has never been to the topside. When she is late for her first mission, she is punished by being partnered with another hunter named Fade. Fade is from the topside and considered to be a rule breaker and untrustworthy. As Deuce and Fade spend time together, she begins to question everything she has been taught in the enclave. When a friend of Deuce’s is unfairly accused by the enclave, Deuce takes the blame and is banished with Fade to the surface, never to return. What starts as a death sentence becomes a true measure of strength and will as Deuce and Fade battle their way across the plague torn surface to find their place in this world.
Enclave is Ann Aguirre’s debut YA novel. Having read her adult novels, I was very interested in seeing how she transitioned her voice to YA. I’m happy to say that Ms. Aguirre pens a fascinating story about a young girl’s coming of age and the choices she is forced to make when her life is torn out from underneath her. Ms. Aguirre descriptive prose brings Deuce’s world into shining focus as we can feel and taste her fear and uncertainty of what her life was in contrast to what is in her future. Horrific situations are told to us in a matter of fact way. It is Deuce’s way of life and her thoughts and explanations leave you feeling a bit cold and grateful for your comfy couch and the sunshine that filters through your windows.
Deuce is a wonderful heroine; strong, courageous, yet willing to listen and learn. She has skills which aren’t diminished in order to set up Fade as the hero that rides to her rescue. She understands and accepts what life has planned for her yet when life throws her the ultimate curve ball, she steps up to the plate with aplomb and adjusts her plans accordingly.
Fade is her perfect male counterpart. They merge together so seamlessly; the story begins to revolve around these two excluding all others. I actually found myself getting antsy when more characters were introduced because I didn’t want the focus to be taken off these two.
The story is engaging with information filtering in at a steady pace; leaving no questions or unfinished scenes. Ms. Aguirre makes sure we know the history behind Deuce’s life in the enclave before we venture on to the surface. It’s when they appear on the surface that I felt the story started to slip. While the first half was so descriptive and involved, the second half spends more time building a possible love triangle then giving us the same cohesive history about people who live there. Teen angst and jealousy are introduced when Fade and Deuce run a foul of a roving gang intent on adding Deuce to their breeding program. Deuce and Fade fight their way out but gain two new members to their group. I expect we will see more of this love triangle or quad-angle in the second book Outpost. Part of me wishes Ms. Aguirre had waited before introducing any real romantic ambiance. It adds an YA emo quality that I felt the story wasn’t ready for.
The ending cranks up the action, suspense, and mystery back on par with the first half of the book as Deuce experiences some interesting revelations that leads them all to another level in their journey. Enclave is sure to appeal to all those who were enraptured by the Hunger Games and similar YA novels. I look forward Ms. Aguirre’s second installment, Outpost, which is set to release in the Fall 2012.