This dystopian novel has a lot going for it. And little bit NOT.
It is I Have No Idea How Many Years into the future. Humanity has taken to living underground, it was appears to be the subway system of New York City. Humans don’t live long. The age of twenty-one is considered old age. Deuce, our heroine, was born underground. She has never seen the sun, by all appearances has never even heard of it. Deuce is a Huntress. She takes to the tunnels to hunt meat and protect the enclave from what they call “Freaks”. Freaks are, best I can tell, something of a cross between zombies and feral humans. Her hunting partner, Fade, was not born in the enclave. He was found, young and alone, in the tunnels, and the enclave took him in. Deuce is a loyal member of the enclave. Fade, maybe not so much, but, since he’s her partner, she is also loyal to him. Yet, when Fade, and circumstance, make Deuce stand up and take notice, she realizes things are maybe not what she thought.
When Deuce and Fade are exiled from the Enclave, and forced to go “topside”, Deuce learns, well, a lot. More than she ever dreamed possible.
Deuce is excellent. She’s strong. She’s smart. She relies on herself and with good reason. She can kick ass! She’s a little naive (what female character in YA isn’t any more?) and a little too trusting. She is ignorant, but only because everyone in the Enclave (except for perhaps the Word guy) is ignorant.
Fade was weak, especially compared to Deuce. The basics (and this really doesn’t give anything away!) is that he’s two years older than Deuce. He was born above ground (where the people of the enclave believe you’ll burn up if you were to walk up there) and he knew his father. He’s a wicked good fighter, he has a tendency to go feral when fighting, and he’s quiet. He’s fiercely loyal to the few (like, one, maybe two) friends he has.
- Liked the main girl, Deuce, very much. She was very appealing in a Katniss/Katsa kind of way.
- The world building, while sometimes a little far fetched (I have a hard time believing that the same world that is so far gone that paved roads are little more than rubble also has canned food that is edible), is also (besides that) rather well done. For instance, I liked that Aguirre made sure to make Deuce very sensitive to the sun and she doesn’t just let that go. Deuce has to worry about the sun constantly and I think that’s very true to how a girl who has only lived underground would be.
- The story was good, if not as strong as I’d like. I kind of wonder if this isn’t a symptom of an adult writer writing a YA?
- Strong, fast pace, which is good for the genre
- The girl knows how to fight!
- Could improve on character development. I felt Fade was weak; well, really every character was weak besides Deuce.
- The plot could have been better developed. It is compelling, but I was left wanting more meat in the story (no pun intended), it’s a case of show me, don’t tell me.
- The “love triangle” was weird. I haven’t mention the other guy. There is ALWAYS another guy. I don’t even remember his name, only that I didn’t like him. I mean, I REALLY didn’t like him. See next bullet.
- Didn’t like the serial-rapist-and-rape-accomplice-suddenly-turned-good character (THIS is the other guy. I know. Gross.). You don’t just flip a switch on a personality like that. He makes creepy Edward Cullen look like a saint.
- The world building is a little weird. It feels like the event-that-is-not-defined happened a very long time ago, long enough for streets to be rubble from rain and erosion, yet they can still eat food from cans? That food should be beyond rancid if it’s been that long ago. Not that we would know.
- Didn’t care for the reader that much. She sounded way too young.
While it had some problems, Enclave was a decent dystopian novel. I am intrigued enough to read the next in the series. I think Deuce is a terrific character and I’m anxious to see if some of the problems I had with Enclave are resolved in Outpost.