Thistle (thistle_chaser) wrote,

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Book #11: Enclave

Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Rating: 3/okay (1/hated-5/loved)

Trigger warning: Rape.

This book was unbelievable, and I don't mean that in a good way. I've never spent so much time while reading a book saying to myself "No, I don't think that works that way...", "No, the human body doesn't work like that...", "No, I don't think people would react that way...".

The main character in Enclave is living in a post-apocalyptic world. What happened? No one knows, but it happened generations ago. Deuce is part of a small community that lives underground (in a subway system, though they don't know what that is). The biggest threat is the Freaks (zombies?). Deuce becomes a "Huntress", one of the three castes (Hunter, Builder, Breeder). Somehow, though her community has contact with only one other community (and very rarely at that, and no underground community has contact with any group above ground), the whole Hunter/Builder/Breeder caste system exists worldwide.

Blah blah evil adults, Deuce gets tossed out of the community with a boy/her Hunter partner named Fade. Oh look at all the teenage lust as the two wander above ground!

Deuce and Fade run into the Wolves -- a gang of, well, bad teens. They kill, blah blah, gang rape, whatever they want. Hey, the world has ended and only the strong survive. All the women are kept as "Breeders" and any Wolf can use them whenever they want. After his Pack is killed by Freaks, the leader of the Wolves, Stalker, joins the merry band of Deuce, Fade, and a Breeder the Wolves had kept. Look! "Perfect" setup for a love triangle! With the added angst of the Breeder who Deuce is afraid the man teen she loves will love instead of her! Never mind neither of the teens wants the Breeder, since she's "weak" for not fighting back (against a gang of armed teenagers) and letting herself get raped over and over. (Seriously, they said that "logic" out loud and in thought multiple times.)

There was so much I didn't like about this book, but there were some good parts, too. The writing (technical -- sentence structure, word choices, etc) was surprisingly good. I liked the world building. Some of the in-character observations were quite clever. The small group encounter a library (the New York City Public Library) :

It must have been quite a world, where books lived in a house finer than anything I had ever seen built for a person.

I was pleased that, while Deuce was the best in the world at fighting, could adjust her eyes to the dark in seconds (and trained herself to see in the dark in a week!), she was barely able to read or write.

I touched my fingers to it and drew the first letter of my name. I didn't know how to spell the rest.

The love triangle though... how I hate you so.

"For a moment, I studied Fade's darkness and the fair gleam of Stalker's hair, and I ached."

These three (with Breeder girl) are traveling the world, trying to survive, having to rely on each other. Both the boys love Deuce and she loves them. Did the thought never strike them to be a threesome? (I suppose this gripe might be a stretch, since they're teenagers.)

So much made me grumble though. Silk was Deuce's dead teacher:

"Soul" was a new word, one I didn't know, but instinctively I connected it to the trace of Silk I had felt with me, long after I knew the Freaks had eaten her.

No, I'm sorry, you cannot instinctively know a new word that you had never in your life heard before, that your community had no concept of. Pick it up from the context? Sure, but in this case it wasn't clear.

This is the first book of a trilogy. I know if I read more, it'll annoy the heck out of me (HATE TEENAGE LOVE TRIANGLES). I'm curious about the world though, and the non-story/plotting writing was good enough that I kind of want to read the next book.

Side note: I love reading the reviews on Amazon, which is why I always link to the page (I make no money if you click though!). In this case, the reviews annoyed me. So many of the one star ones complained about Stalker, and how Deuce should want to see him in prison for the rest of his life (prison! as if the character would even know what that means!). Is rape an awful crime? Hell yes. Was Stalker a rapist? Likely daily. But you cannot hold characters in such a different world to our standard. The one main thing every group of characters believed was "The strong survive". Deuce, who had a hand in killing a boy because he was blind and therefore weak/useless, would be unlikely to have a real big issue with it -- SHE was strong enough to not be hurt by Stalker, if someone else wasn't she had no use for them.

There were a lot of interesting themes in this book, I only wish the author had addressed them more. In her world, the Breeders were all happy, soft-hearted baby factories whose only jobs were to breed with the people the elders told them to and make/tend babies. (I don't recall an Amazon review pointing out that that's a form of rape, too. Being forced to have sex and make babies or be tossed out to the Freaks.) Come to think of it, no one in the whole book was unhappy with their role. Hunters clearly had the highest status, but the Builders were never envious and just happily went along building things.

While I didn't HATE HATE HATE Enclave, I can't recommend it either. There was so much potential in it, I wish it had been a better book. I suppose I'll probably maybe read the next one...

Edit: This icon was supposed to be for awful books, but I haven't had a chance to use it yet, so Enclave gets the honor.
Tags: 2014 books, book review, book: enclave
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