Okay, so did any of you guys watch the Will Smith Movie, “I am Legend”? And did you want more of that terrible crappy future world where zombies are everywhere and not only that – they are actually smart-ish for things with oozy brains? I did!
Take out the lonely grizzled guy and his dog and replace him with a bunch of kids trying to survive and you’ve got Ann Aguirre’s novel, Enclave.
I’m actually amazed that I ended up liking this book, even though the general idea has been done over and over again it must be some sort of magic formula that can do no wrong for me. When I got my hands on this book, I suspected it would be a dangerous weekday buy but luckily for me, Friday was around the corner!
Ann Aguirre! I knew I should have read you sooner!!
Deuce can’t wait to get out into those rank, zombie-infested, pitch-dark tunnels that spider out from the Enclave where she was raised by kids not much older than her. She wants to break the prejudice that she’s only good use as a Breeder – a member of the enclave that makes and cares for the nameless brats. She wants to be something more – a Huntress – trained to protect and provide for the enclave, but allowed to go out and explore the underground world beyond the safety zone. But, before she can get started as a Huntress, she’s got to get a partner and who else but the loner with the bad attitude and the wicked skills? Fade is the local outcast. A sullen, passive-aggressive rebel with a mysterious past, it’s no wonder Fade both irritates and intrigues Deuce from the first day they work together. But Fade has seen and experienced things the brats of the enclave have never imagined or dared to think still existed – he has been topside and he has survived. Deuce is good at surviving the horrors of the underground sewers and tunnels, but can she survive the horrors above ground? When trouble starts brewing in the enclave, Deuce has no choice but to take that risk.
Deuce knows that, in such a grim world, she must stick to the Hunter’s tenet: that only the strong deserve to survive. Those who are weak are no better than zombie fodder and she shouldn’t feel sorry for them. She knows she’s got to harden her heart in such situations or else others will see her weakness and it only goes downhill from there. In this world zombies aren’t the only thing that can smell weakness on you and hunt you down. Besides, friends can be lost or turn on you at any moment. If she lets herself go soft, she’ll be vulnerable to hurt and she simply can’t afford to waste her precious energy fighting or mourning for a lost cause. But when the realities of her world hit her hard, she realizes that she needs desperately to trust someone, to let herself take that risk of loving and caring for someone, or else she’ll become just like another animal or freak.
The book started off a tiny bit slow for me, but it soon ramped up into hyper-speed read. The best parts were, of course, when Deuce and Fade go off on their marathon runs through the tunnels, where they run for hours and can’t afford to stop for too long because the Freaks will catch their scent. Maybe I get easily creeped out, or maybe it was just really late at night, but those scenes were ultra intense for me.
You know, I was a bit resistant towards Deuce at first. From the way she dropped hints about herself, she was a little too obsessed about being this ideal Huntress gal – top of her class, the perfect kick-ass heroine who can do no wrong. It was only about a quarter or more through the book that I started to like her, because she starts to think about what it really means to survive and questions the rigid beliefs and rules she’s been taught by her superiors. Surviving is not only about how fast you can slash and gut the freaks or how well you can hide your emotions from others – what kind of life is that? But she really did win me over with her persistence and her getting-down-to-business attitude about everything. That’s the way to get things done – no whining coming from her mouth.
This book is pretty brutal and gory in terms of the stuff these poor kids have to experience every day. If it’s not destruction and violence from the zombies, it’s from each other. Lots of interesting characters who have survived their situations in different ways both cruel and admirable. Some were able to preserve their humanity, others, not so much.
And, of course, if you’ve seen the book trailer, there is a love triangle. If this book catches on, which I have no doubt it will, people will be making teams again. Something about this love triangle also kind of reminds me of the Angel/Buffy/Spike love triangle a little bit.
Every chapter puts my nerves on edge! There’s a comment on the cover of the book that this story is “for fans of the Hunger Games” which I think does sum up the feel of the book very well.
Here’s a long excerpt from the book:
“Instead of following our usual patrol route, which I’d committed to memory, he broke left and went down a half-flooded tunnel. Like the one where we found the Freaks, it had cracked up top and water cascaded in a dirty stream. He skirted the edge of it, so I stepped where he did. There was a stone lip along the edges raised higher than the rest of the tunnel. If I stayed on it, I could avoid stepping in muck up to my waist.
It smelled disgusting and I averted my eyes from the stuff floating in it – even worse, the stuff swimming in it. As the tunnel sloped up, the water levels decreased until it was merely damp. The light was dim here, but it wasn’t as dark as some of the other tunnels. A faded sign on the block wall read, AC ESS T MAIT ANCE S AFF ONLY. Since reading wasn’t my strong point, I didn’t know what the missing letters might be.
Ahead of me, Fade paused, listening. I didn’t hear anything. But I didn’t speak. A good Huntress respected her partner’s instincts, even if he was socially ignorant.
I stilled my other senses – and then I picked up on it too, a faint sound in the distance, like something drumming on metal. Fade loped off in that direction, weapons in hand. I drew my daggers and followed, slip-sliding in the muck.
“What is it?”
He flashed a look over his shoulder. “A distress call.”
I scrambled over crashed metal and broken glass, being careful where I set my hands and feet. When we were both in position, we dropped down into the darkness of the compartment. It smelled of old blood and feces. My eyes adjusted to the dark, a valuable trait in a Hunter; I had been practicing since our last patrol, doing more visual deprivation, and it paid off.
I scanned the interior. I’d never been inside one of these emergency shelters. They were braced with metal poles and had seating bolted to the floor. No monsters here, only one small, emaciated human boy. A brat like this would never be allowed outside the enclave; I couldn’t imagine what he was doing here. He couldn’t possible know how to hunt yet. In one hand, he held a length of metal, both a potential weapon and a signalling device. With what was obviously his last strength, he lay on one side, tapping it against the floor in a repeating pattern. At first he didn’t even seem aware of us.
I knelt on his other side, away from the jagged shard he held. He reacted then, lashing out wildly.
His aim was so poor I didn’t even need to dodge “We’re not going to hurt you. We’ve come to help.”
He turned his face toward my voice. Even in the dark I could see his eyes shone an eerie white. This brat was completely blind. A shudder went through me. In our enclave, he wouldn’t have survived infancy. The elders didn’t waste resources on those who couldn’t someday pull their own weight.
“You’re human,” he breathed.
“Yes. You’re not far from College, that’s our enclave.”
The brat put his head down in relief and dropped his weapon. “I have to talk to your elders.”
Fade slung the brat over his shoulders and climbed out of the container.
“We’re likely to see trouble,” he said softly, beneath the splash of our feet in the stagnant water.
“Freaks can smell weakness,” I agreed.
And if Fade was right, and starvation drove them toward our enclave, then that made us meat on the move. In sufficient numbers, they could take a hunting pair. Hunters died – it was part of the job – but never without a fight.
At the four-way, they hit us from all sides.
The book was definitely a gripper, but the ending, oh, the ending!! So many questions left unanswered. The next book is out Fall 2012, tentatively called, Outpost.
I believe this is Ann Aguirre’s first foray into the young adult market but I’m definitely going to check out her other work now. In the back of the book she talks about some of the articles she’s read that helped her create the world of this book. Researchers actually looked into how best to deal with zombies in such an event (here) – apparently killing them off as soon as possible instead of hoping for a cure is the best way. I bet you’ve thought about a strategy to survive a zombie apocalypse. Where would you have your base camp? How would you protect it from zombie infiltration? How would you get food? Personally, I think something like a zorb made of bulletproof glass would do the trick in terms of traveling from one human settlement to the other. What do you think? Share, share!
-Graeme from Graeme’s Fantasy Reviews: “‘Enclave’ isn’t without its issues but still remains a book that I tore through over the course of an evening and a commute to work the next day. On occasion ‘Enclave’ is a little lightweight for my tastes but was a lot of fun and a book that I reckon could appeal to adult readers as much as it would to the Young Adult audience that it targets.”
-Miss Remmers from Miss Remmers’ Reviews: “This book, while it had a rocky beginning for me personally, was quite addicting once I gave up the need to “know” and essentially “control.” Once I “went with the flow,” “let myself go,” didn’t analyze, and just read the book for enjoyment (as it was meant) – this book turned out to be a complete winner. It’s definitely a dystopia that I feel stands apart from the rest and I am already looking forward to book 2.”
-Michelle from See Michelle Read: “With her trademark grittiness, Ann Aguirre has yet another winner on her hands, this time a young adult novel no less! Most dystopian novels are somewhat dark and bleak due to the nature of the genre itself but Enclave does not shy away from those harsh details whatsoever. From the very first few pages of Enclave, where Deuce is awarded her Huntress status in a ceremony that leaves her with six perfect (and painful) scars on her arms, I was immediately transported into her world where such extreme sacrifices were commonplace. Descriptions of her patrols with Fade were equally riveting (will they run into Freaks? will they find food? will they wind up forever lost in the tunnels?) – usually because I never knew what the enigmatic Fade would reveal or do next.”
-Jenny from Wondrous Reads: “I enjoyed the first half of Enclave more than the second half, as it’s more dystopian, with the introduction to Deuce’s world being nothing short of fascinating. Once the novel shifts and reaches its second section, the whole narrative takes an unexpected turn: new, less interesting characters are introduced, there’s a fresh, more mundane setting and its direction becomes less clear. I haven’t got a clue where the story is going, which is quite unusual at the end of the first book in a series. It’s like I read two different books featuring the same characters, and I actually wish the whole of Enclave had taken place in its first location. It was the best part of the whole book for me, though I did still enjoy the remainder of Deuce’s story.”
-Alex from Electrifying Reviews: “At first I didn’t know what to think of Ann Aguirre’s writing style. It is fast, and cuts straight to the point. At first, I thought the story was moving too fast, and that not enough was being explained, but once I fell into the world, I had no qualms with the writing. In fact, I grew to love how fast-paced and exciting the story was.”
-Shakespeare’s Muse from Reading Rocks: “It has all the elements of a good story–the array of characters, the badass heroine, the dangerous landscape, the unpredictable future, and that little touch of romance that I hope will blossom into something I want to read about–and I hope the second installment picks up with the momentum the story ended with. Honestly, the end was a bit abrupt for me, but the knowledge that a sequel is in the making is reassuring, though the story does not necessarily need it to be fairly satisfying.”
Rating: 4.5 filthy waste closets you have to bunker down in for the night