Release Date: April 12th 2011
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Add it: Goodreads
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.
Ann Aguirre creates a dark, enthralling apocalyptic world within what's left of New York City. It's the atmosphere and characters that make this novel a standout. No longer a brat known as Gir15, Deuce now has a real name and the scars that finally mark her as Huntress, the title she has been training to earn her whole life. She lives underground, within an enclave where people are split into three groups - Hunters, Breeders and Builders. Not hard to figure out what each job entails. While many people think she ought to be a Breeder, given her heritage, Deuce has clearly proven her worth. She's an incredibly skilled fighter and so is paired with the mysterious outcast Fade.
Initially she's reluctant. They both are suspicious of each other, but they're stuck as partners and begin to try working as a team. And with his presence now in her life, Deuce is forced to question her own beliefs. Everything she has grown up living, all the rules and information the elders have fed her and the others. After Deuce and Fade return from a visit to a neighbouring enclave with concerning findings, the elders refuse to listen and it doesn't take long before they're both exiled. To the scary world above them.
I loved the apocalyptic world Ann created because it was so believable [well, in as believable a way as a dying world and zombie-like creatures known as Freaks can get]. Topside was a barren, bleak mess of a world wrought with vicious, untamed gangs (of all whom were young kids/teens, because as with the enclave, none of them lived long enough to grow old). And just as they were underground, Deuce finds that the Freaks roam above ground too. But there is hope. Fade brings with him stories of the past, stories his father told to him of a much better place where it's green and safer and plenty of food to eat. So they set off across what is left of New York, encountering dangers and meeting new people along the way. Some good, some very bad.
There is a lot of character development, particularly in regards to Deuce. She's grown up with a firm set of beliefs and ideals about the world and then suddenly she's faced with the knowledge that so much of what she's been taught is a lie. Or else misinformation from people who refuse to change or acknowledge what's really out there. But being partnered with Fade was the key to unlocking the rest of the world to her - she may not have asked or wanted that key, but she needed it. She had a purpose in the enclave, but above the surface, she feels a sense of loss. Who is she? She's not a Huntress up there. This is a huge world compared to her living quarters underground - the sky is limitless, the sun is a burning mass of fire on her skin, having never felt it before. She feels weak, but as they explore and uncover the dangers of Topside and meet new people, Deuce begins to adapt. She has an incredible strength within her that really enabled her to carry out this journey. She still has a way to come, but she's growing, she's learning and she's finding herself.
I read a review before going into this that there would be a very light love triangle and all the way through I was wondering 'who's the other guy?'. Trust me when I say, upon first meeting the other guy, you will NOT consider him a contender. Just.. NO. WAY. But then we grew to know him more and surprisingly, VERY surprisingly, you kind of grow to like him a little. His particular turn around kind of threw me for a loop, I was not expecting it! But through and through, I think Fade and Deuce are suited for one another. The romance isn't the key element in this story and that is not a complaint - the main storyline is fantastic and the way the growing bond was portrayed was done really well, especially considering the history and circumstances of the characters
Enclave is fantastic dystopian with well-written action and danger to keep you on your toes and a growing bond between two brave teenagers as they struggle to survive and understand the world around them. A wonderfully despairing novel with just the right amount of hope, Enclave will appeal to all lovers of dystopian!