Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

11 May

Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends (April 12, 2011)
Hardback: $16.99; ebook: $9.99
ISBN: 978-0-312-65008-7

Favorite Lines: “Every so often, they picked a citizen at random. They put artifacts in his private space and then they accused him of hoarding. They needed the consequences to be fresh in everyone else’s mind. This was how they kept us from questioning their decisions I’d once believed the elders to be benevolent and wise.” (p. 113)


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.

Enclave is the best young adult book I’ve ever read. There I’ve said it. The world building was awesome and troubling at the same time. In the Razorland series a Lord of the Flies like world, the elders are no older than mid-twenties and children have recreated society. It’s not pretty. Survivors of the second holocaust have had to take on some very adult situations in order to keep humanity alive. In doing so some become corrupt and all traces of empathy are lost or seen as weakness.

This is not a soft book. It’s hard, dirty and gripping. It takes the reader on a stomach-clenching journey with its heroine as she learns there is much more to the world than what she was taught. Teenage sexuality, rape, infant mortality and murder are only a few of the difficult subject that pop up in the book. These topics are realistic for the situation Aguirre has created. There are no “Oh my God’s” thrown in for shock value which shows the Aguirre’s worth as a storyteller. She is excellent. She is not afraid to go and live on the dark side when it would be easier to stay in the light.

Have I mentioned the cannibals? Yes, as if being in a world where scavenging is the norm and eating rats is common, there are freakish cannibals who need to feed. Their prey of choice–humans populating the tunnels.

Enclave is broken in two parts: down below and topside. Each presents its own problems and is equally engaging. The book is anything but predictable and I can’t wait for the next book, Outpost, to be released in the fall of 2012.

3 Responses to “Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre”

  1. janicu May 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    Oh man, I must buy this book. Why haven’t I bought this? *gnaws knuckles*. When you say “Enclave is the best young adult book I’ve ever read”, I feel very Covet-y! 😀

  2. scooper May 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Hey Janicu! I knew that I liked Aguirre’s Corrine series, but I wasn’t sure that I’d like her young adult series. I adore it. It doesn’t feel very YA to me. The subjects are so adult that it took effort to remember the characters were young teens.


  1. Enclave by Ann Aguirre | Janicu's Book Blog - July 2, 2011

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