When dark finally fell, I felt weary enough to sleep without worrying about the future. But when we woke, the world had changed.
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
So this book had such promise. Such. Promise. It’s about a girl from a society that lives in the remnants of the NYC underground with her clan (or enclave as the title suggests). In her world, you can be one of three things: Hunter, Builder, Breeder. Don’t worry if it sounds like they’re lacking crucial jobs here. Builders, it seems, can do just about anything. They make whatever you need. Not just houses, like I assumed. I also assume that their Elders (the rulers as you would expect) are just chosen from among the groups because there isn’t an Elder category.
But I’m getting off the topic. So, the girl– her name. She has one. I don’t remember. Let me look it up. Ah yes. The girl, Deuce, wants to be a hunter. Before we go any further though, let’s take a moment to admire that name choice. Yes. Deuce. Deuce being the same Deuce that, if Urban Dictionaried, carries the definition of well, crap. I don’t know why the author chose that name. I don’t know if she’s aware of this meaning. I’m not sure how she came up with it. But that’s it. That’s her name.
So Duece. She wants to be a hunter. She gets to a be a hunter. And after that, some stuff starts happening. She’s paired up with a dude named Fade to be her hunting partner and they go off to grab the grub in the underground tunnels and they run into these creatures called Freaks. Freaks are freakish and they attack humans and they’re pretty much the enemy of the underground world.
If questioned why these people can’t go above ground, Duece, our narrator dutifully explains that it’s because the sky rains fire and it’s just a bad place to live.
That’s about the first twenty or thirty pages of this book– a lot has happened in a very short time. The font size is small and the book is petite, but still, things move quickly and they don’t really ever slow down. This far into the story, I think that you, like me, would have a pretty good image of this world. It’s a harsh survival. The Enclave is tough and without mercy, which made sense to me seeing as a lax society would fail. There are many dangerous things and contact with other human clans is limited. It’s solitary. It’s dark. It’s certainly not a place I want to be.
And it seems like a pretty good book. So far. But don’t get fooled– the whole thing falls apart.
It starts when Deuce and Fade are on their hunting trip. Like I said, it’s fast paced book. But as I was reading I started to notice that the plot fell very strictly into categories. Like episodes of a T.V series. There was the introduction, the hunting trip, the journey to the other city, the return, the escape…it was so sectional that it actually sort of ruined the story for me. It didn’t flow, you know?
But maybe that’s just a personal thing. So let’s pretend the structure was perfect. It’s a fast paced dystopia– how much fun, right? But then this romance thing pops up between Fade and Deuce and at first I was like, ugg, but it seemed okay. It wasn’t stealing the action. Until, towards the last fifty or so pages in the book, it turns into a love triangle and is never fully resolved. What. Is. This.
Seriously, why? It was a perfectly fine story without the romance. Plus romance, I suppose it would draw a few more girl readers in. But plus love triangle thrown in for no good reason? Just. Ug.
Okay. But say that wasn’t a problem. Say I was okay with that. Say I even loved that. Then, I still would have had this monstrous disappointment in, of all things, the plot.
Remember how I was all, sounds cool, right?
Well, I was wrong.
Because at first, it seemed like a harsh survival story and it was intense. But then it decided to become a dystopia. And there was some kind of secret rebellion growing in Deuce’s Enclave. And then she and Fade escape to the surface. Which turns out to be pretty lame. It’s just filled with gangs and stuff. And then they run away to a nice little city where everything is all la-de-da perfect.
Okay. So why doesn’t the dystopia idea work? Because it wasn’t a dystopia. The people were doing their jobs. They were staying alive. Their government perhaps killed a person every now and then, but hell, that all made sense. I mean, they’re living underground, having to fight off Freaks to survive! Life isn’t going to be perfect.
Yet Aguirre chose to play it as an opressive government that was keeping secrets from the people. For instance, they said the sky rained fire above ground. My thoughts on reading this was, “Sick, acid rain is burning the earth! What a horrible future. I’m sure that’s what drove them underground.” But it turns out this wasn’t true and once Duece finds out that this, and a few other things the Elders have said, don’t line up with reality, well she goes 100% anti-Enclave.
So the above ground lifestyle isn’t exactly what they thought– well, maybe things have changed in the past hundred years and the sky that once rained fire fixed itself. I mean, a few incorrect statements doesn’t merit a disownment of the people that gave you life and community. It’s not like her freedom’s were being oppressed. I suppose you could say that the Enclave did kill a few people, but seriously, this underground world is harsh as balls. I think a no mercy stance makes sense.
Also, Deuce in the beginning of the book punches a window out of an old subway car. Then, in the end, she has Fade explain what windows are to her. Even though she already knew.
Okay. I see that first, half of my paragraphs have started with either okay or so and I apologize for that. Also, I’ve stopped making sense. I’m rambling. In short, this book was a messy conglomoration of Hunger Games and The Inferior. It was neither shocking, nor original. The last one-hundred pages were a drag. The plot was trying too hard to latch onto the new dystopian craze. The only good thing was that I found a dollar in it while I was flipping through looking for Deuce’s name. This book started out with promise and if it had stuck to it’s grit, ditched the romance and dystopian aspects, and been a gripping story of survival against all odds and perhaps a Freak invasion I probably would have liked it a lot more.
Unfortunately it wasn’t. However, I am a kind and generous person and if you would like to buy this book from me, I will sell it to you for $10 (including shipping– what a steal!). I have no idea why you would want a book that I just called awful, but hey, I don’t judge.
0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…
1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.
2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.
3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.
4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).
5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.
6 and above. What I want my book to be.