Book Review: Enclave
Enclave is the first book in the Razorland series by Ann Aguirre. I first picked up this book because a friend and coworker told me that I should read it. I had just finished the Divergent series and needed something a little more light hearted (no spoilers, I promise!). I decided to give it a try, though I would usually steer clear of any novel that has zombies in it, that's just not my thing. The book wasn't quite my style, but I did want to stick with the series to give it a shot. I am currently about halfway through the second book.
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 - guided by Fade's long-ago memories - in the ruins
of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs.
Aguirre's thrilling young adult novel is the story of two young people
in an apocalyptic world- - facing dangers, and feelings, unlike any
they've ever known.
I cannot say that I was completely thrilled with this book. In fact, it's a little difficult for me to say I even like the book. I don't say that very often, but I think that honesty is very important when it comes to these reviews, and I really was not a huge fan. Ultimately, there were quite a bit of flaws with the novel that made it a frustrating read for me, so I can only imagine what it might be like for a young adult to read the novel. One of my students picked it up for his book review project last week, and I can't help but worry for him and how he might struggle to get through it.
Problem #1: Issues with time.
One of the biggest flaws with this novel is how much it jumps around. After reading Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies, I understand that sometimes it is important to skip around a bit so that the reader is not bored. However, I also know that skipping around too much can be frustrating, and that is what happens in Enclave. There will be times when Aguirre will write things like "the past two weeks happened quickly" or "After a few days." It seems like quite a bit of time to skip within the novel, and it leaves the reader wondering what happened in all of that time - two weeks is a pretty lengthy amount of time, after all. If it happened once or twice, that would be one thing. Unfortunately, it happens constantly throughout the novel.
Problem #2: Gender Roles.
Another big issue with the novel is the idea of different gender roles. In the Enclave, where the main characters start off, it does not seem to specify anyone by their gender. Instead, they are known by their job once they come of age; Builder, Breeder, or Hunter. I liked the idea of not having specific gender roles until the main female character, Deuce, became a HUNTRESS. Notice the female title. None of the other occupations have different titles for males or females, yet Deuce calls herself this throughout the entirety of the novel. While this might seem like a small issues, it creates inconsistency, which can lead to huge problems within a novel.
Problem #3: Inconsistencies in titles.
The last problem that I really see is the inconsistency of the words that Aguirre uses throughout the novel. As I said earlier, I am not a fan of reading zombie books. While I am okay with the occasional undead movie, I do not really enjoy reading about them. To make it worse, Aguirre created a different name for the zombies depending on where the characters are. Underground they call them "Freaks," Topside (above ground, in what used to be NYC) they call them "Muties," and in Salvation (a different town) they call them "Eaters." While I understand that sometimes places have different names for things, it makes it a bit confusing throughout the novel. Even some of the characters seem to be confused by it themselves, in fact.
The book is not all bad, though. The characters really are enjoyable when you are able to focus on them. Deuce is all about trying to be strong and prove herself to be a good huntress, while being partnered with Fade, who was found when he was younger and brought to the Enclave when he seemed strong enough to be of use. Their relationship becomes interesting as they deal with being hunting partners and then being banished to Topside for taking blame for something they did not do. The book has a few redeeming qualities, but they can be a bit difficult to find between everything else.