Monday, January 13, 2014

REVIEW: ENCLAVE (Razorland, #1) by Ann Aguirre

Title: Enclave
Series: Razorland, #1
Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: April 12, 2011
Genres: YA, Dystopian
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
My rating: 4/5


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.


You know how I’m always complaining the post-apocalyptic themed books I’m reading are all starting to sound the same? Well, I think I finally found the one that’s not giving me any ammo for a hissy fit. Enclave is friggin’ fantastic! I loved it! It has one or two minor inconsistencies – hence the four-star rating – but overall it is vastly different from most other post-apocalyptic reads. “Vastly” might be a tiny bit of an exaggeration, but still... 

I was hooked the minute the underground monstrosities made their appearance (you know how much I love my horror reads, right?). There are quite a few creepy monsters in this story that freaked me out good; aptly called Freaks (or Eaters or Muties – they have different names). And of course there’s also the Burrowers; benign beings that fascinated me. But mostly I was captivated by the whole idea of underground living, and unlike other such books in this genre, the author takes her time welcoming the reader into the world of this sewer society where, as a citizen of the College enclave, you can only be one of three things: a hunter, a breeder, or a builder. The world-building was done so terrifically that by the time Deuce and Fade were exiled from the enclave and went Topside (above ground), I actually missed being inside this commune in the sewers that was Deuce’s home up until then. Being above ground turned out to be just as frightening and dangerous as facing creatures from the dark tunnels.

Deuce is exactly the type of protagonist to which I measure other female leads in YA as her character embodies all the characteristics which I consider the makings of the ideal female protagonist. This girl kicks serious behind like nobody’s business.  She’s the quintessential example of a fighter; adapting to her surroundings and doing whatever necessary to survive, without losing her girlishness. Emotionally, she’s a warrior. This is what I admired about her character: steely determination balanced with realistic expectations. She hid her vulnerability well and only shared her fears and worries in bite-sized portions with the reader, instead of going off on lengthy tangents about her doubts and reservations.

The plot moves at a rapid pace and the suspense and action intensifies with each chapter. No love-triangle...well, at least not at first. That only happens near the end. But still. No insta love and hardly any angst. That, of course, made me a contented reader. The only element I at first rolled my eyes at was when Deuce passed out from an injury and had a sort of epiphany / clairvoyant episode, if I can call it that. Normally I would have an issue with characters getting prophetic dreams or visions out of nowhere. This time around, though, it didn’t bug me as much as it usually would. Somehow the author made it work, and Deuce’s vision (dream?) about Silk she had near the end fitted into the storyline perfectly. Not all authors can pull this off without it feeling out of place, but Aguirre did it effortlessly and made it seem like the next logical step for the plot’s development.

This is the first Ann Aguirre book I’ve read, and she is indisputably a skilled writer. Her flawless ability to transport the reader to a nebulous future ravaged by manufactured plagues and biological weapons is simply remarkable. With so many dystopian novels out there competing to be read, Enclave is a shining beacon in its originality with every aspect that composes the storyline. It narrowly follows the basic dystopian-genre formula, but the storyline and setting is fresh, gripping, and innovative. I would love to see Enclave be made into a movie as it is an action-packed read with just the right amount of romance. I highly recommend this first book in the Razorland series to all fans of this genre looking for a unique and compelling read and to those who enjoyed Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass.  


Enclave by Ann Aguirre has over 3100 reviews on Goodreads. Read it here.



Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes all kinds of books, emo music, action movies and Doctor Who. She writes all kind of fiction in multiple genres, both YA and for adults.

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