Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

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Ann Aguirre
Series: Razorland, #1
Publication date: April 12th 2011
by Feiwel & Friends


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 20s. 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.

*A copy was provided by Raincoast Books for review purposes*

This book, you love it, or you hate it. And then there’s me.

Enclave starts out as a very captivating, very exciting read. The world building is terrifying; we’ve got society living underground, talk of barren wastelands and acid rain “Topside”, beasts are roaming the tunnels which, let’s face it, are zombies. These “Freaks” eat human flesh, they smell and look like death, and they are taking over! I was lost and absorbed by this dreary desolation. Though what makes it the most compelling is the plausibility of this post-apocalyptic world. Society would separate, and there are apparently already people living in the underground NYC tunnels (as per the author’s notes). These types of post-apocalyptic settings are my favorites, the possibility makes it horrifying, and you all know by now that I’m a masochist. In the big picture, the world is brilliantly imagined, sharply described, and I loved it. I also loved the slow telling of its history. We don’t know what happened to bring about this future from page one, we learn it as our characters do. When you look at the world closer, however, mostly in regards to the underground living, I was a bit less convinced. How have they been getting drinkable running water for a century? Or I guess the best question to ask would be: How exactly have they survived? If you tell me you lived under the earth for over a century, you will need to give me the full lowdown to make me believe it. I wanted it to be more fleshed out.

The transition from underground to Topside is also a part I wish would have been done differently. Someone who has never been exposed to the sun would not so easily adapt to it. Sunglasses, conveniently found might I add, would not nearly be enough protection. I was expecting a bigger reaction overall, not just physically, but mentally as well. Nonetheless, I will say that the world we do get Topside is very well described in all its ravaged glory. The planet is destroyed and the author depicts its bleak nature very vividly.

On to the most controversial aspect of the novel. The characters in Enclave are very particular. They have an extremely different upbringing; Deuce was brought up as a fighter, a warrior, with “the strong survive” as her biggest value, so she lacks social skills including, and especially, empathy. The way she reacts to situations and other people’s distress is a source of complaint from many other reviewers and I can easily understand these reactions. Personally, I was able to do away with my own values to understand a culture that is completely unlike my own, but it does bring about harsh topics, such as rapes, that could very well leave a bad taste in your mouth. What I certainly could not stomach was when the arrow started pointing at an nauseating future love triangle – which I was confirmed does come about in the sequel. It’s not the triangle that I have the problem with, but the love interest involved in it. This is a guy who let his people gang-rape a girl continually, and who most probably raped girls himself even though it’s not specifically mentioned. He is a sick, vile man. While I understand the reasoning behind wanting him on board to help them survive until they reach their intended destination, I do not see myself garner anything but disgust in the possibility of a romance between our protagonist and this dirty, rotten fella. I just can’t. Will I still read the sequel knowing this? Certainly. The world building and overall premise is very enticing and I was thoroughly entertained from page 1. But I will also likely be annoyed and disgusted. I guess we can’t win em all.

3 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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35 Responses to “Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre”

  1. Carole L

    I have had this book on my shelf unread for a long time I’m intrigued! I like dark worlds that are well described like this. Great review!

  2. Amy

    I really loved this book, but the whole love interest thing really bothered me. I will definitely read the next book though. Awesome review chick!

  3. Sarah Elizabeth

    The blurb sounds interesting, but I’m not sure I could face another zombie book right now having just finished the ‘forest of hands and teeth’ series! I like your comment about how have they survived underground for a century – I mean, you’d expect them to be at least suffering from a vitamin D deficiency from lack of sunlight!
    Oh dear me… a love triangle involving a guy who rapes people? That is so not cool.

  4. Candace

    Crap, I’m getting ready to read the second book and I don’t remember the love interest stuff from this one AT ALL. Hopefully I start to remember as I read.
    I wasn’t sure if I would like Enclave but I ended up loving it. I can see where things could be annoying for some as there’s not reasonable answers for everything. Fortunately it didn’t bother me.

  5. Jessica@Booked Up!

    I’ve been seeing this everywhere recently and am really intrigued. The world building sounds brilliant. However, the guy in the love triangle sound sick! That would bother me a lot. I think I’d give this a shot though.

    Thanks for your review, Giselle! 🙂 xxx

  6. Ali @ Ginger-read

    Agreed! I too really liked the book EXCEPT for the rape aspect and particularly the way Deuce seems to, all too easily, forgive this character for it. I can see that rape most certainly would be rampant in a world like this but that in no way means you just brush it under the rug. It was really the only thing that threw me off on this book. I won’t ever be a fan of her giving this man (if he could be called that) affection.

  7. Christina

    Hmmm, I loved this when I read it. Before I read the sequel, I’m definitely rereading. I often get to caught up on the first read to turn a really jaundiced eye to the book. I remember liking Deuce as an MC, but then again empathy’s never been my strong suit either.

    Good point about her being above ground for the first time. That’s something Meagan Spooner did right. Lark got sunburned and was horrified by all of the space. Deuce should have been more like a babe in the woods.

    Honestly, I don’t know what to make of the love triangle. I don’t think I was that bothered, but I also don’t remember the gang rape thing, which is not cool, so I may just have forgotten the whole ending of the book.

  8. Mel - Thedailyprophecy.

    I’ve heard some pretty different things about this book and I still can’t make up my mind. The love triangle with that sick, vile man sounds disgusting. The world-building sounds awesome. The characters sound okay.. I might grab a copy from the library to check it out, but for now, I’m satisfied to leave this book unread. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Shooting Stars Mag

    Oh gosh, that man sounds perfectly horrific, I agree. I don’t think I could handle the idea of making him a love interest. Having him in the book and helping them out? Yes, okay, but a LOVE interest? Not cool.

    Sounds like an intriguing premise though.


  10. Liviania

    I might read the sequel to this one, but I haven’t decided yet. I enjoyed Enclave, but I am not looking forward to the love triangle really developing. I don’t like love triangles at the best of times.

  11. Jennifer Messerschmidt

    I just bought this on a kindle sale and now I’m not so sure I want to read it. lol I like dark dystopians but rape is one thing I no want in my books. Especially a love triangle with him. Yikes. But I will probably still give this a go cause the world building sounds really interesting even if details about how they survived underground for a century was left out.

  12. Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue

    True story: this is one of the FIRST YA’s I bought when I started blogging. I have yet to read it, which is craaaazy. I need to. I’m encouraged that you liked some parts of it, but that love interest sounds like a scuzz-bucket! EEEP.

  13. Sam

    Great honest review, Giselle! I enjoyed this slightly more than you but do agree with a lot of your points. I’m disappointed to hear a love triangle develops in the sequel. 🙁 I’m not so eager to read it now…

  14. A Canadian Girl

    Hmm, I’m not a huge dystopian fan so I’m probably going to avoid this since it sounds more slow than full of action. I also don’t like the sound of that future love triangle.

  15. Camille Picott

    Yeah, I didn’t quite like the love triangle with a serial rapist / perpetuator of serial rape. I liked the rest of the story for the most part, though at some point I remember having to just suspend my inner critic and enjoy the ride. 🙂 Nice review!

  16. Chel

    I gave this book a lower rating. Like you, I also didn’t like the ‘other guy’ in the love triangle. It was a full out WTH moment for me. And I just didn’t buy some parts of the plot, especially that time when Deuce dreamt of that person who said that everyone in the underground was dead? My memory of that is quite fuzzy, but I know almost threw the book at the wall during that scene. So contrived, IMO. I don’t think I’ll be reading the sequels.

  17. Lalaine

    glad that ur still going to read the sequel after all the lacking, the world building is really good. I agree that it is disgusting to think that the heroine and that gang lad is going to be in a romantic thingy with her. *shudders*

    Great review Giselle! xoxo


  18. Deepali

    Ann Aguire has one other series that was pretty popular, and she is a pretty good author. I can understand the negative comments though, so perhaps this is one for the TBR (i.e. may never read) pile.

  19. Giselle

    @Terri Rochenski: Yeah 3 stars means I liked it. It’s still on the positive side. Just had some issues with it 😉 You should def. give it a try.

  20. Jesse Burgoyne

    It’s been a long time since I read Enclave so I’m fuzzy on all the details, but I remember having some of the same feelings as you. I remember really liking the book, but at the same time feeling it was very childish. I know it was supposed to be this dark setting with serious themes, but the childishness of the characters came off as rather comical against the backdrop.

  21. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    I’m definitely in the hate it box, as you know. You made some really good points here, a lot that I agree with. But I am happy that the whole thing worked better for you than it did for me. For me it was just a hot mess… not it wasn’t hot.. it was just a mess. Great review love!

  22. Kristin @ My ParaHangover

    I had no idea there was any “controversy” around this book. I still have to read one of Ann Aguirre’s books (I have Grimspace on my shelf) but if I like her style, I’ll still give this one a try. You never know, it may not be so bad or there may be an “explanation” coming in the next book (?).

    Or you could just get annoyed 😀 Always love your reviews!!

  23. Lily Child

    I really appreciate your honest review. I’ve been on the fence about this one because it honestly just didn’t sound like my cup of tea. I feel pretty good about my decision. Again, thanks for your honest opinion.

  24. Jennifer | Book Den

    I’m so glad you reviewed this one, Giselle! I’ve been thinking about finally reading it now that Outpost is about to come out. I think I’ll wait until I hear how Outpost turns out. 🙂