Enclave:Razorland #1 by Ann Aguirre
Read by Emily Bauer
Summary from Goodreads:
WELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE
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 first read this book back in 2011 when it first came out. I remember really liking it back them, but for some reason never followed up with the next books in the series. One of the ways I’ve used audiobooks is to reread a series before the next book comes out. The fourth book in the series comes out at the end of July and it kept popping up on my dashboard in Netgalley, and I kept passing it by because the summary starts by saying that is the next book in a series, and the last thing I need is another series. But the last time it popped up something clicked in my head that I had read at least part of the series before and really liked it. So I quickly downloaded the three book series into my i-pod and here we are. I hope to have them done in time to get the fourth book read before it comes out. It being the summer I think I can get it done.
This book really puts the ‘dys’ in dystopia. The Enclave lives in the subway tunnels of NYC and it is quite the interesting society that they have created. In some ways everyone is valued for what they can contribute to the group, but the elders hold a tight grip on everyone and even the smallest infraction can get you banished. You can also be killed if they elders see no value in you. This usually happens to small children who are weak or deformed in some way. The freaks that roam the tunnels at first appear to be a type of zombie, looking for humans to eat, but eventually you see them more as mutant humans, that on some level can think and even strategize. We don’t ever really get a reason why they are living in the tunnels, but it is obvious that something catastrophic happened and society as we know it completely collapsed. There are other enclaves in the tunnels and each seem to have their own society rules and notions on how to survive.
The story is told by Deuce, a huntress in the enclave. She is a brave and skilled young woman and is determined to do the right thing, even when it maybe goes against the rules. It is interesting to watch her grow and begin to have doubts about her society and the elders rule. Her relationship with Fade is tentative at first. Unless you are a breeder, you are not allowed to have romantic thoughts or feelings toward someone else. Also touching is pretty much prohibited as well. Fade intrigues her, mostly because he did not grow up in the Enclave. He was found as a child wondering on his own in the tunnels. The elders decided to let him stay only because they valued the fact that he was able to survive the tunnels on his own at such a young age. I like Fade, he is sweet, but also tough and brave and does what he needs to in order to survive. He is also not afraid the question authority and stick up for his friends. Their relationship does not run smoothly, as they are both headstrong and not used to expressing their feelings.
There are a lot of other characters in the book worth mentioning. Silk is Deuce’s hunter trainer and mentor. Deuce often hears Silk’s voice in her head, and she acts as her moral compass at times. Stone and Thimble are her two friends that she grew up with. Stone is a breeder and Thimble is a builder, so we are able to get a glimpse of those roles in this society through them. There are two more characters from outside the Enclave, Stalker and Tegan. They are both are interesting characters as well, and both are crucial to Fade and Deuce’s survival in this book.
Emily Bauer does an excellent job of reading this story. The only fault might be that when she speaks as Fade she sounds a little to feminine and young for a boy of 16/17 years of age. Other wise her pacing and depiction of Deuce as a conflicted yet strong young woman comes out strong.
The author does an amazing job with this world she has created. The awe and wonder that Deuce experiences when she leaves the Enclave and goes above is well written and emotional. Deuce is thrown into a totally new world that she barely knew existed and struggles to find the words needed to describe the things she see for the very first time. I am really looking forward to seeing where she goes with this story in the next book. A truly fascinating dystopian world that leaves you questioning society and what would happen when the world as we know it ends.
Here is a video created by the publishers for the first book. It makes me want to see a movie based on the books, although Fade doesn’t look like I imagined him. It also makes it look like the romance is a big thing in the series. It is there but it is not by any means the main theme of the book.