by Ann Aguirre
I really enjoyed Enclave, the first book. It is non-stop action, a bit scary and brutal, and half of it takes place underground in the tunnel systems below New York City. This book opens up with the gang in Salvation, an outpost in upstate New York. Deuce is having a hard time adjusting to the expectations and restrictions the people in Salvation expect from her. She has been a Hunter and a doer, an integral part of society, regardless of her age. In Salvation, the people are older, the jobs and society’s rules are strict regarding appropriate jobs for men vs women and young vs old. She is going a little nuts.
“Though I had been in the light for months, the shadows still troubled me.” (pg 17)
“Salvation had saved me, but its protection came with restrictions. Its rules didn’t permit me to be myself.” (pg 25)
Salvation has kind of a Little House on the Prairie vibe without that much innocence, maybe more like a garrison out west that closed up to stay safe from the natives. The problem in this world is that some sort of plague happened that killed many, turned many into freaks or mutant zombie types that eat people, and some survived. The thing is, it seems that the freaks are getting smarter….
It is a little slow, we get a lot of Deuce figuring out life like this “Perhaps that was the point; life, if you did it right, meant learning and changing. If you didn’t, you died – or stopped growing – which amounted to more or less the same thing.” (pg 185) But by giving us all these little revelations, which I did find interesting, the pacing is slowed down and the action is held off for a bit in the middle. Honestly, it should have had more tension, but maybe due to the first person POV and the fact that Deuce is black and white and only now learning the gray of life, she doesn’t seem to get that nervous until a fight is in front of her.
Also, there is a love triangle which isn’t too bad because once Deuce understands what is happening, she makes her choice quickly but there are a lot of hurt feelings and posturing. Deuce didn’t have a normal upbringing and much of the emotional thing is unknown to her so she is constantly figuring out how the actions translate into emotions.
Many of the villains were human in this installation instead of zombie/mutant, but that is pretty consistent with the last book as well. Because we get so much of Deuce’s thoughts and ideas, this book is a good translator for people trying to understand different character types, especially understanding types of leaders and warriors and juxtaposed against that, dating nuances, hurt feelings etc. It felt a little like she was slightly autistic, with Asberger’s or something, needing to interpret the social signals of those around her. While it isn’t because of her brain’s wiring but because of how she was raised in the enclave, it still requires her to stop and figure things out before reacting. Interesting but at times it felt like we were being told a lot of stuff.
Anyway, it was good, I struggled a tiny bit in the beginning and the middle where my mind wanted to wander and pick something else up (that happens to me way too often) but once I committed myself, it was easy to stay involved and by the end I was drooling to get my hands on book three, Horde. 4 silver throwing stars embedded in a freak’s head. (they didn’t use throwing stars in the book…but I am utilizing a little creative license.)