Enclave by Ann Aguirre
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
From Goodreads: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.
My take: I'm feeling a bit on the guilty side right now. I read this two or three weeks ago and the details have slid from my mind but I do know that 1) this is a book I have been looking forward to reading for a long time and 2) it did not disappoint.
One of the most stand-out features of this book is that it is different than anything I've read, although it may mirror a little bit of "Lord of the Flies," a book I have not read. This is not dystopia but apocalyptic. The word is that a terrible disease killed the population of the earth. Those who lived gravitated to one another and formed societies that do not necessarily interact except for food trading and the like.
Deuce belongs to an enclave in the New York subway system which is clearly now defunct (the subways, I mean). Members of the society only live until the old age of 25 or so. Most die much younger. If the child DOES survive until the age of 16, the child goes through a naming process and receives a job designation - hunter, breeder, cook, etc. Hunters are a tough group that look for food, gather the written word or possible artifacts of worth, and protect the enclave by killing the freaks. They also can travel and trade with other enclaves.
Back to the freaks - these are mutant beings that, in the past, have lacked intelligence and organization. This seems to be changing however. Don't know what they are or where they came from, but they are much more dangerous and becoming more organized.
Deuce is partnered with Fade, a boy a few years older with a dubious past, killer hunting skills, and knowledge of the surface. He even has an affinity toward conspiracy theories and the way the enclave uses fear to control the group. Eventually, Fade and Deuce end up on the raw side of the leaders and are shunned and chased off. Their choices are to try and join another enclave or take their chances on the surface.
What was compelling to this book is the different societies and the way they worked. This enclave had rules that could not be messed with. Another society Deuce and Fade discovered held different beliefs and were of a much more peaceful nature. On the surface, another society had definite ideas about the uses for Deuce and honing their hunting skills.
The descriptions are not graphically sexual and rape is implied rather than described. Violence is the norm but appropriately used in the story. Alliance is easily switched for survival and the mindset is whatever is best for the group rather than the individual, except in rare instances.
It is a raw, visceral read. Content is not inappropriate for teens and would be an excellent book for discussion.