Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Review - Enclave by Ann Aguirre


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The Story

Girl15 is part of an underground world; a world that struggles to survive in the aftermath of devastation to the world above. Her life revolves around her enclave, a small village that consists of Hunters, Builders, and Breeders. There are other enclaves, but trading with them requires venturing into the darkness and avoiding the attacks of deadly Freaks. In spite of the danger, Girl15 has her heart set on becoming a Huntress. Her training and dedication pay off, and she is awarded her adult name in a ceremony when she turns 15. Deuce, as she is now called, joins her new partner Fade on missions to capture meat for her tribe and protect them against Freak incursions. Yet there are secrets in her world. Secrets she manages to uncover. Secrets which the leadership of her enclave deny.

Deuce’s journey is the tale of a heroine. As she ventures out beyond what she has ever known before, she must fight for survival, and for the survival of the friends she has come to love.

What I thought:
I absolutely adored this book. Deuce is an admirable soul, sure of herself and unwilling to compromise her code. Yet she is a young woman who grows over the course of this novel. She can face the fact that so much of what she was taught as a child is a lie, and still face herself. She can weigh each decision based on what she has learned along the way, and forgive herself for her past mistakes. She has the heart of a Huntress. The world Aguirre has built is completely believable and detailed.

It’s not just about Deuce, though she is the main protagonist. Aguirre crafted a set of characters around Deuce that are also complete and intriguing. Fade, Deuce’s hunting partner, has warrior skills and a sensitive outsider nature that blends well with Deuce’s personality. Stalker and Tegan, met along the journey, are fascinating as well.

While there is violence and despair, I found the persistence and loyalty in the story to be more uplifting. Human nature has its dark side, of course. Leaders lie, people scramble over one another in an effort to get the best for themselves. In spite of that, there is always hope. People can grow, change, and love one another. In the midst of chaos, there is always hope.

Age Range

with violence and mature themes, recommended for grades 7 and up. (Neither of these areas seemed more intense than Hunger Games, so if you have a student who could handle that series this one should be fine). One area of concern often mentioned by reviewers is Tegan's background. The things that happened to her in her past don't occur within the course of this story, but may be disturbing to younger readers.

Science Concepts:
- Healthy eating (with the underground world, there could be discussion about what may be causing the health problems in the enclave).
- Mutation or biological warfare. In this book it is unclear what caused the Freaks, but this could be an interesting discussion, maybe even creating room for some research.
- Natural and manmade resources: Aguirre makes note of the research she did on what could be left behind to be used later if there was a global catastrophe.

Wonders and What Ifs
- What sacrifices should be made to allow humanity to survive? What sacrifices should never be made?
- What role would you want in the enclave society? Why?
- What do you think the most important skills for survival would be?

Historical Tie ins:
- A great way to look at caste systems and government types. I think reading several books in the dystopian genre and analyzing them with an eye to the type of government would be a fascinating task for high school and college.
- Gender relationships, roles. Enclave (and the sequel, Outpost) would start great discussions.
- Any inquisitions, witch hunts, or persecution of heretics



This story would be described as post-apocalyptic and dystopian, yet there is science in the possible causes of the devastation of the world. The second book Outpost (which hits the shelves September 4th) and the novella Endurance (available in ebook format) bring in more science concepts.

I adored this book. I read Outpost in an advanced copy, and loved that one as well. I will post a review of Outpost, and I will also be hosting a Q&A with Ann Aguirre on September 10th. There will even be a giveaway for a copy of both books, so be sure to stop back!

Do yourself a favor and grab Enclave. It's available for just $2.99 as an ebook for a limited time (from Amazon, Barnes and Noble ). No excuse!  
No, I don't get anything if you buy the book this way. I only get the joy of sharing a book I loved with others.



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