ENCLAVE (Razorland #1)
Feiwel & Friends
Available April 12th
Received for review as part of a tour through Teen Book Scene
Deuce has always wanted to be a Huntress. Though her pretty looks could also make her a good Breeder, she's never wanted to do anything other than protect and support her enclave by going out in the underground tunnels in which they live and hunting for food. And on the day of her naming, the day she goes from being a mere number to having an actual name and purpose, she achieves her goal.
She is quickly partnered with Fade, a young man not born in the enclave and rumored to have lived Topside for several years before being forced underground. He doesn't seem to like her, or anyone, but they both know they need one another for support against the Freaks–monstrous human-like creatures that lurk in the tunnels waiting for a fresh meal.
Deuce and Fade quickly learn the Freaks are a bigger threat to the enclave than they thought previously, and when they find their closest neighboring enclave has been overrun, they know it won't be long before they're next. Quickly following their report to their superiors however, Deuce and Fade are both exiled Topside, a place where betrayers of the enclave are sent and never thought of again. For Deuce it's the worst punishment she can imagine, a certain death sentence, but with Fade by her side she realizes her entire life has been a lie and now the two of them must navigate their new circumstances together.
Enclave is a story enveloped in literal and figurative darkness, its pages revealing to us a cruel yet fascinating world set in the bowels of a world we once knew, grim and dank tunnels now the environment best suited for survival after the apocalypse ravaged everything above ground. We are held transfixed by Deuce and her enclave's way of life, as thoroughly in the dark as to the rules and regulations that so rigidly define this new existence as the characters are to the way of life that came before. Our shared curiosity–Deuce and company's for all the small tokens and trinkets that are meager representations of a life lived Topside, and ours for their method of survival–makes us partners in this tale, existing side by side in drastically different realities but breaching the paper-thin barrier between our worlds with our equal interest in the other's quality of life. Though Deuce is unaware of our existence, we feel intimately connected to her as we watch remnants of our current lives pass under her inquisitive gaze, and we can't help but want to share our lives with her, answering her questions as she shares her story with us.
Both she and Fade make it nearly impossible not to be invested in their day to day struggles, their physical strength echoed in the breadth of their mental capacity as their minds are always working and questioning while their bodies move to protect and support the enclave. The fact that touch is forbidden within the enclave structure save for those who are Breeders makes their quiet moments pulse with tension and heightened anticipation, and we anxiously hold our breath as they progress from strangers to hunting partners to exiled friends, and then finally to a potential romantic pair.
Once Fade and Deuce are forced Topside, our already keen interest spikes to a new level as we seem to switch roles with Deuce, her expulsion from the familiar tunnels of her home and her entry into the world above ground startling and unnerving in its difference, but for us it's coming home–back to a world we recognize and inherently understand despite its change in appearance. Reading as small items, creatures, and weather patterns shock and amaze Deuce is exceedingly satisfying, the relationship we formed with her in the tunnels strengthening as she explores our world with the same unhidden interest we possessed in our travels through hers chapters before. Though Topside is familiar to us, we still find ourselves sharing in both Fade and Deuce's enthusiasm and curiosity for uncovering just what happened to the entire population, asking the same questions they desperately want answered as all three of us tread carefully in this new life.
Enclave is the beginning of a spectacular journey, one where we are not just a reader, but a companion to those written in ink on the pages. This story does start a bit stronger than it ends, Fade and Deuce's journey to find a settlement his father mentioned once lulling a bit toward the conclusion of this obvious part one of not-sure-how-many, only to pick back up just as we are faced with the final page. It's not so much a cliffhanger as an abrupt end and, essentially, a "to be continued". Overall though, Enclave is a quick and extremely interesting read, and a journey I will no doubt be continuing.