Your name is Deuce. You are just one loyal member of a small pocket of humanity, living underground like rats in the tunnels and sewers beneath cities that are largely devastated and in ruins. Following orders and rules without question is the only way your enclave of fellow humans has managed to survive. Subhuman Freaks prowl the tunnels sometimes singly, sometimes in packs, always hungry for meat, be it the animals you and the other Hunters occasionally catch in the traps you set, or–be it you. This is the sort of post-apocalyptic world that Ann Aguirre writes about in her page-turning and engrossing novel, Enclave.
Deuce got her name from a playing card. She used to be called Girl15, before her Naming Day took place, when she also became a valuable member of her enclave, which is called in the book the “College.” The card is one of a variety of objects that are laid out before her, gifts provided by the other members of the enclave, like the Builders and the Breeders. Twist, one of the elders of the enclave, though he’s in his early twenties (people have much shorter lifespans due to sickness and premature aging), slices Girl15’s arms in six places, and her blood drops onto the card, earning her the name of Deuce. Each person has his or her responsibilities to the community, and disobeying a rule can be punished by being exiled to the Topside, and possibly becoming dinner for the Freaks.
Told in the first person, Enclave is Deuce’s story, and tells of how she went from becoming a valued member of the enclave who is a Huntress helping to supply meat, to someone who is exiled, along with another Hunter, Fade, to the Topside. They don’t commit the crime they are exiled for, but take the blame for one of the breeders, Stone, who has been set up by the Elders to serve as an example to the rest that anyone who disobeys the rules can be exiled. Deuce, even before her exile, has seen direct evidence of the unjust way the enclave is run. She still doesn’t want to admit to herself that the Elders sometimes act arbitrarily, and that their punishments are too harsh; but, when she see with her own eyes the results of the Elders’ punishments, she eventually realizes how cruelly they sometimes act.
Enclave is an exciting and page-turning novel of life in the future, of survival under very difficult circumstances and conditions. I liked reading about Deuce’s growing romantic feelings towards Fade, though she knows that it’s wrong and against the rules for anyone but a Breeder to, well, breed. There are many action-packed fight scenes, also, involving Deuce and Fade combating the Freaks (also known as “Muties”), and both fighting against other Hunters in a tournament before they are exiled.
Also, their lives as exiles, trying to survive Topside and avoid or fight against vicious gangs and Muties provides a lot of thrills in the novel’s second half. I don’t want to give any other potential “spoilers,” that might ruin the book for you, but I’ll just say that Deuce’s ideas of what the Topside is like are very different from the reality of what it’s really like. Their adventures Topside and encounters with other remnants of humanity they discover there make Enclave a fantastic novel of survival in spite of tremendous odds and harsh conditions.
Enclave is an awesome novel of the survival of pockets of humanity in a post-apocalyptic future. It is Deuce’s story of growing up in a restrictive environment, not knowing her parents, raised to follow strict rules, and her eventual awakening to the arbitrariness and harshness of the rules she lives under. It also shows that love cannot be regulated and controlled, and that romantic feelings can develop, even under the harshest of conditions. For a glimpse of what this novel is about, check out the book trailer (sometimes to be found in the ad rotation on this site) to see for yourselves. If you like reading great science fiction stories, then Enclave is a book you’ll want to check out!