New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20’s. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.
Enclave is one of the more frightening YA dystopian novels I’ve read. Like the upcoming Blood Red Road, it presents a stark view of a future world where everyday is a battle to survive.
Raised underground, and trained to be a huntress her whole life, Deuce is a nearly fearless warrior. Her life changes the day she comes of age, is given her new name, and paired up with the quiet but vicious hunter Fade. Deuce and Fade fall into an easy partnership, based on respect of each other’s fighting abilities. After encountering freaks ( absolutely terrifying zombie-like beings who definitely gave me nightmares) who have appeared to genetically evolved, they know their lives must change.
Once they realize they both are questioning the enclave’s elders, who have ignored their warnings of a new breed of freaks, a friendship develops. Together, after discovering more truths about their underground world, they’re banished topside, and leave in search of a better life.
Enclave is unique in that it shows a true breakdown of society as we know it, where humans band together and live the most basic lives, only concerned with eating, breathing, and breeding.
The story might have had a more profound impact on me since I live in New York City, and see how eerily plausible it would be for society to crumble. If the city was mostly evacuated, those that remained could easily begin living in the subway system, or fall into roaming gangs who terrorize what’s left of Manhattan.
Really the scariest thing about this book is how easily this horrible life could all become a reality. The plagues, starvation, in-fighting, and lack of information…maybe not the cannibalistic freaks, but then again, who knows what 100 years of inbreeding and starvation could do to the human race.
I’d recommend Enclave to anyone in search of a fast, enthralling read showing the grittier and gorier side of post-apocalyptic life. Aguirre never shies away from showing the nastier side of survival, but still lets her characters carry a hope in their hearts that there is indeed a better place out there in the world.
Deuce and Fade aren’t perfect, but they are refreshingly real, and incredibly strong characters both physically and mentally. Odds are, that like me, you’ll be left anxious for the second installment of their story.
Enclave the first book of the Razorland trilogy, is available now from Feiwel and Friends.