Author: Ann Aguirre
Growing up in a post-apocalyptic, underground dystopia, Deuce has only dreamed of one thing- becoming a great hunter for her enclave. It is a dangerous job, with wild animals and zombie like creatures called Freaks, but she has trained for it her whole life. Finally her 15th birthday arrives and her position in society is meted out – she will be a hunter. Her excitement does not last long though. Her partner is a shady boy named Fade, who may or may not have killed his last partner, and when they break the strict societal rules during a hunt, it is no surprise that they are sent on a suicide mission. Things go from bad to worse as Deuce and Fade realize the Freaks they once considered a dangerous inconvenience have figured out how to work together and have destroyed a neighboring enclave. They return home, their reports rejected by the elders, and soon find themselves being forced into exile. With little choice the two must face their only chance of survival – going topside, a fate said to be worse than death.
Where do I start? If you are looking for a book that will let you completely turn your brain off and just synthesize words into mindless entertainment, this book is great. Otherwise, keep moving- this is not the book you are looking for. It dawned on me as I was looking through the notes I took that there is no way I could list all of the complaints I have, which is impressive, as I only got a third of the way through before I either had to quit or cough up ten dollars to the library for setting their book on fire.
To begin, Enclave is written in first person perspective, which is fine, except in this case it was done very poorly. About every other thought Deuce has is some form of “I hope I’m a good hunter-Gee, I’m a fantastic hunter- That was stupid, I’m not a good hunter- I hope my partner thinks I’m a good hunter” over and over and over again. I understand if that comes up a bit as being a hunter was her life goal, but when that is all you read, it gets incredibly annoying.
Another issue I have is Deuce’s counterpart- Fade. Fade is the dark, mysterious, bad boy who of course does not hale from the Enclave. No, he came from elsewhere, accepted by the elders for who knows what reason, magically able to survive unprotected outside of any enclave. In other words, he is a Gary Stu, a character that generally is perfection incarnate, who, without their presence, all would be lost. See also, incredibly annoying and cliché. On top of all this, Fade’s storyline does not even make sense. He is a hunter, supposedly shunned by everyone as the rumor is that he murdered his last partner. No one believes his innocence, as they had not been partners long, said late partner was supposed to be good at his job, and, of course, Fade is the dark, mysterious character that no one really knows anyway. This would all make sense, except you find out that the partner who died was actually Fade’s second partner. Apparently his first partner was the one who taught Fade everything, had a successful hunting career, retired and died of “old age,” therefore negating everyone’s grounds for suspicion that the new guy is a serial killer.
Other issues that I have: 1) All those who have a deformity are killed, as deformities are not tolerated (the elders actually have a blind child killed), and yet it is mentioned that their only food supply is meat and the occasional mushroom. As a medical fact, Vitamin A deficiency (Vitamin A being derived from plant sources) causes blindness, and therefore, everyone in the Enclave should be blind (not to mention suffering from severe malnutrition). This book is NOT LOGICAL. 2) The evolving relationship between Deuce and Fade. After having an aloof, tolerating co-existence as partners, Fade suddenly wakes Deuce up from a bad dream and acts very concerned, asking if she is alright, if there is anything she wants to talk about (mind you they have already had a fight about basic human principles and since then their interactions are limited to one sentence responses). NOT LOGICAL. 3) The Enclave- where no one lives beyond 25, where their prized possession is a razor, where no one is given a name until they are 16, and their naming ceremony consists of cutting the person with said razor and allowing blood to drip on objects in order to deduce a name. 4) The fact that it is acknowledged that it takes great courage to go through the naming ceremony. 5) Bella freaking Swan… I mean Katniss freaking Everdeen… wait…what book about an angsty teenage girl who can’t make up her mind am I reading again? 6) Deuce has to remind herself to keep fighting and not admire her partner’s fighting technique while being attacked by vicious, blood-crazed, zombie like creatures.
I tried to give this book a fair shake. I really did. After throwing it across the room twice, I figured I was being too harsh, put it down, and went to bed. I picked it up the next day, well rested, well fed, sitting outside and all happy after going running. It wasn’t too horrible, until I found out its most horribly annoying tribute yet: just when the story starts to redeem itself, it pulls something so absolutely inane that you just want to throw it across the parking lot and torch it. The pain and torment of it doesn’t end, and like I said before, I didn’t even finish this book. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. It was really that bad. Overall, I give this book a 1 page rating (2 if you really want utterly mindless entertainment). Don’t read this book. Don’t do it. For your sanity as well as mine.