Reread Review: Enclave

Reread Review: EnclaveEnclave by Ann Aguirre
Series: Razorland #1
Published by Feiwel & Friends on April 12, 2011
Genres: Dystopian, Romance
Pages: 259
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.

As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.

Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first Deuce thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace.

As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.

Almost three years ago, I first read Ann Aguirre’s Enclave and I LOVED it. I went out and got a copy, and the rest of the series went on my must-read list. Of course, things being what they are, I didn’t get to them until now, which is why I’m rereading Enclave before embarking on books two and three. Sadly, I don’t have the same fangirling reaction to Enclave that I had before. It’s still one of the better YA dystopian novels, but all the feels I had before are missing.

What I Thought Then:
For reference, should you be so curious, here’s my original review of Enclave. I open my review by comparing it to The Hunger Games, because past me was totally unique that way. Not only that, but I favorably compared Enclave to Aftertime and The Time Machine.

I also pointed out that there was a distinct lack of explanation as to why the world is this way, but that it does seem like Aguirre plans to reveal that as the series goes along. Then I praise the characters and the love triangle, in which I refuse to choose a team. More flailing over how awesome Enclave is.

What I Think Now:
This isn’t one of those times where I want to go shack my past self while yelling “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?” even if I don’t feel the same now. I actually agree with the comparisons. Though the plot’s not much like The Hunger Games, they do share a key element that makes them effective YA dystopian novels in my opinion: they both place survival over romance. In both, there are romantic elements, but the characters definitely place their own survival above that, which is something I really prefer in dystopian fiction.

The world building is not brilliant so far, but does show promise. I like that the fragmentation and the way different groups evolved different rituals. I also appreciate that Aguirre did have some groups where women weren’t looked down upon. In Deuce’s enclave, they treated males and females the same, and they all performed the same jobs. While the role of women in the book as a whole is rather upsetting, what with most of them being referred to as “breeders,” it’s not like that everywhere. Or, it is, but in Deuce’s enclave, men also are assigned to the role of breeder, so it’s not a gender thing so much as a survival thing.

Where I came up entirely different than before is that I didn’t connect with the cast of characters at all. They all seem pretty blank to me this time. Perhaps I didn’t have a ship because none of them have the depth for me to feel a connection between their personalities. For now, I’m pretty meh on the romance in any possible iteration. Stalker’s definitely got the potential to be hugely problematic. Is he redeemable? I don’t know, but Aguirre’s going to have to be careful with him, because he’s been a party to rape. Fade’s a much better guy, for sure. I’m just going to wait and see on this, because, as I said, I really have no ship and there hasn’t been enough romance for me to be hugely upset about it either.

So, there you go, Enclave still was an enjoyable read, but I’ve apparently changed or wasn’t in the right mood to bond with the characters. If you like action-packed reads and dystopian fiction that won’t prioritize the romance, then Enclave will be worth a look.

Favorite Quote:

“He told me to clean you up. That’s all. They shouldn’t left some guards, but they’re stupid and they only saw a weak female.”

31 responses to “Reread Review: Enclave”

  1. Meg says:

    Fun coincidences! I just read Horde this weekend (best of the three imo) and it inspired me to go back and reread Enclave. I’m not all the way through, but it sounds like I’m having a similar experience, I originally thought Enclave was the bee’s knees, cat’s pajamas, etc and while I still think it’s great (a dystopian future world where I actually get the sense that anyone could die? Say what?) I’m not quite in love with it as I used to be.

    Having read the rest of the trilogy and the novella and knowing a bit more about the world and how everything will shape up, seeing where the character’s began their arcs is interesting. I still appreciate these books for all of the reasons you said, although I definitely ship Deuce/Fade, but I like that NOT DYING AND BEING EATEN is more of a focus for them than making out whenever they get a spare second. Also, I really enjoy fight scenes and Ann Aguirre writes some good ones.

    • Christina Franke says:

      We’re totally twinsies with our Razorland and Of Beast and Beauty. Glad to hear Horde is the best. If Enclave is the best one, I have some serious disappointment in front of me. I think it filled the hole that wanted more actiony stuff like The Hunger Games, though they’re not the same. Not sure. Maybe I’m just pickier now? I don’t know.

      I suspect I’ll have to go Deuce/Fade, but I’m just not feeling chemistry with anyone right now.

  2. A dystopian story where survival is picked over romance is always welcome to hate. I hate it when everything turns into a sappy story when the world is undergoing total destruction. It’s a shame that the world-building lacks, but most series tend to take their tame. I hope you’ll get more in the other books!
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Ugh, I hate when they turn into romance novels. I mean, I LOVE romance, but, if you’re doing a sci fi or a fantasy world, the world building should come before the kissing. *sighs*

  3. It’s always interesting revisiting old books, especially ones that we were once super excited by. More often than not, the books lose their luster the 2nd time around. I actually just tried this with The Hunger Games series and, fortunately, I ended up loving the series just as much as I did the first time. I guess as we become more well versed in a genre (especially a popular one like dystopia), our expectations evolve so it becomes that much more difficult to impress us.

    And in regard to dystopia, I completely agree that I ALWAYS look for survival over romance. Honestly, that’s why I’m reading it in the first place — to see if the character can make it! There has to be some sense of realism behind the danger to make it relatable and to make me care. If I feel like it’s all about the romance then I’m just not gonna buy it when the MC comes out on top in the end. If Enclave has anything going for it, at least it’s that, even if it doesn’t wow you on the encore read.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Very true. I still love rereading though, even though sometimes I regret it. The true bookish loves are the ones that are the same or better the second time around. Some things are only good the first time, and that’s okay.

      YES. If I were looking just for romance, I would go pick up a romance novel, not a dystopian. UGH. If there is a romance, it should probably end unhappily in a dystopia too. They’re just altogether too happy in YA.

  4. I read the first few pages of Outpost and it looks like Stalker is going to be the love interest. And the author said on Twitter than there isn’t a love triangle, so I’m assuming that Stalker is the ONLY love interest from here forward? I don’t know, but I decided not to continue the series when it became apparent that the rapist was going to be a romantic interest. No fucking thank you. And even if Stalker wasn’t the pile of shit he is, Fade would still be my ship. Oh well.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      From what I’ve heard from people who have read more, I suspect it’s Fade all the way. Though I really don’t know why she would say there’s no love triangle. I’ll let you know when I’m done, if you want.

  5. fakesteph says:

    I haven’t read this one, but I love that you compared your original reactions to your current reactions. That’s one of the things I love about blogging–it’s easy to remember what I was feeling when I read a book and fun to compare it when things change.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      I’ve not done much rereading since I started blogging, but I’m planning to use this format for those reviews. Makes it easy to write AND it’s fun to compare.

  6. Heather says:

    I read this awhile ago, rated it a 4, and don’t remember a single thing about it. haha. I wonder if I’d like it as much this time, or if, like you, it wouldn’t hold the same appeal. I’m normally not into re-reading books that aren’t favorites for me (because there are so many things I want to read! ahhh!), but I’m thinking I should re-read this one sometime soon as I’m now really curious about it.

    • Christina Franke says:

      Ha, I actually remembered a fair amount of this one, oddly enough. The general plot outline was there in my head, which is more than normal. Well, this WAS a favorite, but I’ve also read a fair number of books I didn’t like much, because I’m a weirdo.

  7. I can’t remember you doing a re-read review before, so this is interesting to me *strokes chin*.

    Perhaps three years of dystopians/PAs have taken some of the shine off? I liked Enclave well enough, and in retrospect I probably missed some of the better sides of it because I was reading dozens of those books at the time. Funny how tastes can change over time.

    • Christina Franke says:

      That’s because in all the time I’ve been blogging I’ve only reread a couple of books, most of them in the last couple weeks. I have some more in my pile of reviews for whenever I have free space. I know I did one for The Girl of Fire and Thorns though. Stalk better!

      Yeah, I’m sure the fact that this was early in my dystopian exploration was part of the reason I loved it.

  8. Ellis says:

    Yay! You’re rereading! I just replied to your comment about wanting to join me (sounds so official) and OF COURSE you can. 1) Rereading is the best. 2) It’s not like my “project” is such a novel idea. So I hope you can fit this in somewhat regularly, even if some novels will disappoint. Believe me, there are those that only get better.

    So, Enclave. I’ve had this for a while now. The cover is super shiny (which I hadn’t expected). I stayed away from this for so long because there is apparently a subplot with rape and victim-blaming and I’m not sure if I can handle that.

    I’m glad you mentioned the “survival over romance” part. Finally, priorities. The breeder thing sounds problematic, but if it’s a survival thing, I guess it’s kind of necessary. Ultimately, ugly futures is what dystopias are all about, or should be about. I usually don’t mind when world-building isn’t explained right away, especially if the world is shown through a limited POV. It’s realistic. I wouldn’t be able to explain entirely how our world got this way either.

    Hmm, it’s not a priority right now, but I feel better about having Enclave on my bookshelf than I did before. Please keep rereading if you can!
    Ellis recently posted…Rewind review – OutcastMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Haha, more just like I need someone to keep me on track. You know what I REALLY want to reread? The DUFF. No, your idea isn’t novel, even if it does involve many novels. Meh, I just work better when I have to get shit done. When I’m like “I’ll just do more of X” but don’t put any rules in place, I totally do not end up doing that thing.

      Also, you may be laboring under a misapprehension that I was opposed to rereading. In fact, I’ve always loved it. Well, except when I reread a favorite and it’s awful, but still. With my memory, rereading’s great, because I can totally be surprised by the twists again.

      Yeah, I don’t think you’d like this one, Ellis.

      What YA has done with dystopian fiction makes me pretty ragey. Teens can’t handle unhappy endings? Is that what we’re saying? Then please explain why high school curricula include a lot of depressing books.

      • Ellis says:

        Was that a pun? The novel/novels thing? You should change your name to A Punner of Fictions. So, you want me to make you a schedule, then? 😀 I’m rather loose with mine because I’m the opposite. When I feel I have to get shit done, I’m just not doing it because fuck this I do what I want. I’m a hopeless human being. I just agree with myself (yes, convos with myself because) that I’ll reread one a month. I usually post my review the first Monday of a new month, but that didn’t work out this time, so yeah. Hopeless. I’m hopellis. Or Hopelellis.

        Also, what am I supposed to do with this responsibility? Keeping you on track x_x I’m so bad with keeping myself on track already. But! I can totally do this. If you genuinely want me to do it, I will.

        Aah, no. I didn’t think you disliked rereading. I know you missed it, but that you felt you didn’t have time for it anymore. No misapprehension here, no siree (missy? I don’t know. Brain fried and it’s only 4.30).

        What do you mean I won’t like this one? I already bought it months ago ;_____; I’m trying to make it a thing to actually read all books on my physical shelf and just. Huh. I’ll see. Rambly rambly, I just keep going.

        You know what the problem is with YA that jumps on The Big Trends (pnr, dystopian, etc.)? The love story often takes over and the rest is just this nifty little fad to make it sellable in current times. This summer, I’m going to make it a personal project of mine to see just how much some of the biggest books in YA adhere to the conventional romance formula. Jeez. Every author that kills off their protagonist or a love interest (without it being a cop-out for The Choice (Clare, Cremer, looking at both of you and judging you for it so so much you have no idea)) earns my immediate respect. Well, not exclusively, but it’s a very good start.
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        • Christina Franke says:

          DUH. I am disappointed that you do not know me well enough to recognize my terrible puns. Ha, I don’t like the schedule, but I also fall apart without because then I’m relying on my own initiative, which I basically just do not have. Also, conversations with yourself do not sound weird to me, though they probably should. I like how you have nicknamed yourself.

          Ha, the only reason I’m rereading now is to go through this series and then some reread audiobooks because of personal reasons I can’t go into publicly.

          Ummm, yeah, wah wah. I just think Stalker will make you want to chop the book in half, but we’ll see.

          YES YES YES. If you want to have a love story for love story’s sake, then write a goddamn contemporary or a historical. Those don’t require nearly as much world building. Well, historical can, but it’s fairly easy to just make it vaguely historical. But goddamn if you’re going to do a fantasy or a sci fi you need to build the fucking world first and foremost. Speaking of death, I’m impressed that Roth went there. I truly am.

          • Ellis says:

            YOU TEASE. How am I supposed to know you well enough if you keep these very super secretive things and motivations hidden from me?

            I was ever so subtly questioning your puns. This nickname won’t stick, if I can help it. It’s a thin book, so not much chopping to do. Okay, maybe I’ll just burn his name out of every page and we’ll see how much book remains then.

            Roth has pleasantly surprised me this year. Not just with her choices story-wise, but also with the way she reacted to the whole debacle. That was one of the classiest responses I’ve ever seen. Agree on everything you said about fucking world-building (there’s a pun here too). As soon as that’s fixed, we should have a talk with authors about protagonist ages, especially if they’re speshul flakies. Teens are not made to bear this much responsibility, so if they have to, I want the narrative to challenge rather than endorse it.
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            • Christina Franke says:

              Ha, I can DM you if you want.

              Hopellis, why do you resist who you were meant to be?

              Oh, yeah, she was so fucking classy. I approve. Still don’t like her books, but at least I think she seems like a cool person.

              It shouldn’t be shocking when a teen doesn’t embrace having to save the world. I mean, Harry may be annoying with his bitching and moaning sometimes, but also he’s got a lot on his shoulders and lord knows I would bitch about it. Frodo whines a lot too. I think when that much is riding on you, you’re going to be resistant, especially if you’re young. That’s one of the things THG got incredibly right.

  9. Jenni says:

    A big issue for me reading this one was Stalker. I can’t see him being redeemed in any way for me so I decided not to read the rest of the series. I did hear that their romance blooms in the second book and that makes me want to stab it.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      I mean, I like that she’s raising the issue, I guess, because I’m sitting here and wondering if a rapist CAN ever be redeemed or if they immediately go to hell (not that I believe that) without passing go or collecting $200. Maybe? And it’s a post-apocalyptic scenario. Does that change things? Is not knowing anything else an excuse? Basically, it makes my head hurt.

  10. Katie says:

    Hmm I have this one on my Kindle from when it was on sale. I was really looking forward to it, but maybe I shouldn’t be? lol I’ll save this one for when I’m really in the mood for a post-apocalyptic!
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    • Christina Franke says:

      I’m honestly not sure whether I strongly recommend it at this point. How I feel is going to depend on where it goes from here, I think.

  11. I don’t really need a romance in my dystopian reads, and prefer them on the side. This series is one I hope to get to, and often wonder what the me of today would think of a book I loved in the past. I very rarely go back. Wonderful, thoughtful review 🙂
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Same. I like having romance in my books, but I don’t like it to be the central element of a fantasy/sci-fi.

  12. Hmm, I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard of this one but it sounds like something that needs to be on my TBR list. I love dystopian and prefer them without much romance. Loved how to you compared what you thought then to what you think now…quite interesting~
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  13. Elizabeth says:

    I can’t remember what happened in this book or the sequel (I think most of them happened in this book? But approach this review with caution), but I remember two things about this book:

    1. The zombie/are they zombies/what they can think?!? are awesome and they are definitely the reason I’m going back for the 3rd book

    2. Blaming the rape victim. If I hadn’t been reading this on my computer, I would have thrown this book across the room! The character realizes she was wrong…but I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen until the end of the next freaking book!!!!

    I mean I can’t say I wasn’t interested in some of this thought process – at what point is the rapist not at fault? If culture dictates it what does that mean? Can they ever be redeemed? But regardless of that whole thought process (which was uncomfortable, but I thought an important conversation), but the victim blaming repulsed me. It’s especially important to me that we show that isn’t ok in YA lit.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      1. The zombie-ish things are pretty intense, because they’re learning and stuff. Also, fast.

      2. There’s a bit of that, yeah. Sort of makes sense, since she was raised with weird ideas, but ugh. But that whole discussion about redeemability is interesting, and the book has made me ponder that, which is good. Still not sure how well it’s approached though, but I guess I’ll see by where the series goes.

  14. Molli says:

    This one seems so polarizing! I’ve read some reviews praising it, and some that hated it. Interesting to see you finding some good points in it even years after you read it. I bought it shortly after I started blogging, but then all the dystopians/utopians/post apoc just wore me out, and I haven’t managed to read it.

    Not connecting to the characters is the WORST. I almost never really like a book when that happens. And eek, not sure about these two potential guys. Curious to see what I think of them.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Ha, yeah. I think it depends how you’re rating. I mean, the adventure stuff is pretty good, but the character of Stalker is the main thing. He’s a rapist and led a gang of rapists. The fact that he’s a potential love interest is upsetting, which can lead to hatred, but then is also unnoticed by some (like past me, apparently).

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