Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Release Date: April 12, 2011
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 259
Received: Library
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


From Goodreads:

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.


I can't write this review. Really, I've tried three times already and I just keep coming up with these sprawling 20 page essays of crap. So I'm breaking things down into categories.

The cover

It's sparkly. I wasn't expecting that. No, this probably isn't all that important outside of my sparkle-obsessed head.

World building

YES FINALLY THANK YOU! Ann Aguirre's world building has two things going for it: 1) It makes logical sense, and 2) I can picture it perfectly. Reading Enclave was like watching a movie unfold before my eyes. Her world is immersive, it's scary, it's oppressive, it's bleak, and it actually makes sense


They make sense, too! I can't say I exactly like Deuce or relate to her, but I do find her intriguing to read about. I loved seeing the world through her first person narration. Enclave's society is like a really screwed up psych experiment (a la Lord of the Flies) with a bunch of malnourished kids calling all the shots. I'm horrified, but I'm totally fascinated. 10000000 points to Ann Aguirre for making her characters and society develop in a way that is actually consistent with human psychology (something a few recent dystopian authors have failed to do).

The dystopian awakening

Deuce of course realizes her dystopian world isn't as full of win as she had originally thought. In YA dystopians this great epiphany usually comes from the insta-love guy or the quirky best friend. Not here! Yay! More points to Ann! Deuce doesn't really do a 180 in her thinking. She was always very logical, and so when she gets new information about her world, she logically adjusts her conclusions. Hey authors, see how much better that is than relying on quirky throwaway best friend?


I was loving the romance during the first half of the book. It's a slow burn based on mutual admiration with not a speck of insta-love in sight. Fade is badass, mysterious, and he so nails the "sexy but innocuous touch." But then the author totally KILLED it in the second half! The stupid love triangle rears its head and Fade becomes a complete weenie. Seriously, he becomes that dog that pisses all over itself while rolling onto its back. What's up with THAT? As if that wasn't bad enough, the other guy in the triangle is an ugly scarred up sadistic RAPIST. He's vile in every way. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? How in the world am I supposed to get on board with that?!


Heck yeah! Does the idea of post-apocalyptic badass zombie killing sound fun to you? Then you're going to LOVE it in Enclave. Deuce and Fade are both hunters and so they spend most of the book killing zombies (or, in this book, Freaks). The fight scenes were so awesome in that heart-pounding, makes-me-wish-I-could-hit-things-without-hurting-myself kind of way. THIS is what kept my eyes glued to the pages and is the reason I cannot wait for the sequel.


What? Oh, there's a plot? I'm sorry, I was so absorbed by the fight scenes that I forgot we're actually supposed to be doing something here. So, ok, the plot is actually pretty sparse and unfinished in this installment, but it does set up some interesting questions. If you're cool with that wandering type of plot like in Cormac McCarthy's The Road or Richard Matheson's I am Legend, then I think you'll be just fine with the plot of Enclave. It's even got a bit of a quest-y feel to it.

The fighting and near-constant peril make for a brisk pace that keeps the book from dragging. Short chapters help, too. I was sucked in from page one and couldn't put it down until I had finished (like, a day and a half later...ok, I had to sleep at some point). There were a few things I thought were flat out stupid and out of place (those little creatures, the "dream"), but they were minor and I kind of just ignore them.


Pretty much a cliffhanger. If I cared about a certain character who is left in peril with their fate unknown then I'd probably be ripping my hair out. As it is, I couldn't care less about that character, so I'm fine with the ending. Things leave off on a turning point, so it's a good place to stop, but this is very much only part one of a story (no story arcs are resolved). I'm totally on board for more zombie-killing action when Outpost is released in 2012.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Enclave that I haven't addressed? 
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Agree with me? Disagree?
I'd love to hear!
Click here to share your review in the upcoming
Review Comparison!

Looking for another book like this? 
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  1. I'm worried this one will be a bit too reminiscent of The Hunger Games or Divergent. But I probably shouldn't judge the plot too much by the blurb without reading it myself to make an opinion.

    All things considered, I like what you had to say about Deuce and the fight scenes. Uh, not so much the love interests. I'm confused why one of the love interests would be a rapist. Does Deuce know that he is a rapist? That is just not right.

  2. The cover is sparkly? Sold.

    Seriously though, great review! I'm not a massive fan of dystopian - at least I didn't think I was, but I loved The Hunger Games, so maybe I should give this a go.

  3. Small you make me want to read this like right now! It sounds like it is a smart novel full of action. Thanks for the awesome review :)

  4. I totally agree with everything that you had to say. Her world building was picture perfect but I hated that she added that stupid love triangle. Fade was sooo much better in the first half. Thanks for the review!! =D

  5. YUP! Loved this book. Can't wait to read the next one!

  6. I LOVED ENCLAVE! First book this year that really made me sit through until finished, it hurt when it was over as now have so long to wait for the next in the series.

    Ann Aguirre does a wonderful job with her adult books, her foray into Dystopian YA however was totally off the charts good!

    {I do not know what went wrong in your box where you said to click here to share review but it was not a link so left my link here in comments.}
    My Thoughts on the book end of July

  7. What??? You had me sold until I got to the romance section. I thought you said Deuce was logical? Getting involved with a rapist doesn't sound very logical.

    Now I'm feeling on the fence about this one. I mean I loved I am Legend, and it seems interesting that it's set in a world that seems very plausible, but the cliffie and the character you don't really care about kind of turn me off.

    Still, I can't ignore the high praise.

  8. Yay! You did it and very well I might add! I think this is a great review and I love that you could even say the thing you didn't like about the novel even though you loved it!
    Really great review and now you make me want to dig out my copy and read it!


  9. Everything sounds great about this one except the romance. Damn you, love triangle!

  10. UGH, another love triangle that doesn't make sense?! Well, if that's the only turn off from what I read of your review then I guess I'm ok. I had no clue about the zombie thing though which was interesting. I think I'll give this one a shot.

  11. Don't even get me started on the damn love triangle! I'm glad I wasn't the only one to see it this way - I was actually becoming quite aggravated by it towards the end!

    Anyway, excellent review, as always! I completely agree with you on every point. The fight scenes were my favourite too. They were blimmin' fantastic.

  12. Aylee, I can't comment on how it compares to The Hunger Games or Divergent because I haven't read either of those yet. From what I do know of those two, Enclave sounds different to me. The focus is much more of a post-apocalyptic than a dystopian.

    Belle, Haha, I knew the sparkly cover would be relevant to someone other than myself :P It's very post-apocalyptic with a lot of action, so I'd give it a shot even if you don't like dystopians. It's only the first half that deals with a dystopian-like system.

    Nic, Go read it! :D I really did appreciate how logical everything was. It seemed like the author took a lot of time to make sure the world and the characters were all consistent.

    Bailey, Aw, yeah, Fade really was so much better in the first half. I have hope that things will go back to the way they were though once the sequel comes out. At least I hope!

    Savannah, Me too!

    Jackie, Wasn't it addictive? :) I haven't read her adult books yet, but Enclave has sparked my interest. Thank you for submitting your review! The link didn't work because I had scheduled these posts last night and then forgot to edit in the link this morning :P

    Missie, Haha, don't worry, I think the romance will get back on track in the sequel. Deuce is logical, but...she's also very naive because of the way her society developed. The way things developed does make sense but I can't really explain it more without giving out spoilers. I think you should give it a try but just keep in mind that Deuce is very much a product of her society, which is very different from out own. The character I don't care about is not one of the main characters.

    Heather, Thank you! :) There were definite things I didn't like that I can't not mention in good conscience, but I enjoyed the other parts so much that I'd still rate Enclave highly. Just be warned, it's brutal (but no animal cruelty).

    A Canadian Girl, Ha, yeah, I'm so done with love triangles. But then again, they were never my favorite thing. I think things will sort themselves out in the sequel. I hope.

    Ann, Thank you!

    Rummanah Aasi, It makes sense given Deuce's upbringing. It just doesn't work for me. The zombies are so exciting! The fight scenes had my pulse pounding!

    Amber, Haha yes I was so frustrated with the love triangle! Those fight scenes were EVERYTHING I want in a fight scene and more.

  13. I've been excited for this one ever since I first heard of it. I'm even more excited to read it now. I think I may be able to get it from the digital library, but I don't know if I'd have it done in time for your review comparison post.

  14. I loved this book too. It took me like a day or 2 to read it. which is unusual for me. I loved how the book wasn't a far-fetched dystopian. I adored Fade, but you're right he turned into a weenie the second half. Why turn a good character in the beginning of the story to a wimp in the second. I'm hoping he steps up in the second. As for Stalker...I'm just like why?

  15. I've been seeing this book on a lot of blogs, but something about it was just.. meh. Maybe the cover? But reading your review (and cracking up at the romance section xD )--I know I must pick it up now.

    It goes without saying, but AWESOME review. =D

  16. Ann's world building is so precise...I mean who would've known can food could last that long! I so agree w/ u on the love triangle...there's definitely no competition, Fade all the way lol!

  17. Just Wow! It sounds like I'm going to enjoy Enclave (when I eventually get to it!). I didn't know it had Zombies in it though. Still, I'm going to read it Zombies or not because it sounds too good to miss.

  18. I think this is one of your best reviews yet! I love the way you broke everything down.
    didn't think much of the cover, and thought, "Oh, another dystopian, maybe I'll skip it." but the book trailer was so good I decided to pick it up anyhow. And I loved it! Read it all in one night!

  19. Gina, I hope you like it! I'm curious to see what you think about it compared to the other dystopians you've read lately. This one had a lot of action.

    AngelicNytmare, Totally agree! Stalker's character confuses me. He's interesting, but I hope he doesn't become more of a love interest. Come on Fade, step up!

    Dazzling Mage, The cover didn't attract me until I found out it had sparkles :P I hope you like Enclave!

    Faye, I agree, I loved her world building. Yay for Fade!

    The Slowest Bookworm, I hope you do! I think even if you don't love zombies then you could still like Enclave.

    Madigan, Thank you! I wasn't expecting to like Enclave as much as I did too :)

  20. I didn't like the cover much either. I've been considering buying this one, but that summary is also incredibly long... and not that enticing. Though your review has perhaps hinted that my judgment of the summary isn't fair ;).

    Except regarding the romance: "The stupid love triangle rears its head and Fade becomes a complete weenie."

    HAHAHA. You made me laugh so hard there. Hmmm. So now... great dystopian world versus my hatred of love triangles? May have to wait until I'm in a bookstore and can peruse it for myself to see just how bad the latter is... though the rapist part hints that it's pretty bad.

    Thanks for the review :D.


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