Adults always think they know best…what if the oldest adult in your society is only 25? Enclave by Ann Aguirre tells the story of Deuce, a teenager who lives underground in a time when survival is so hard, that people don’t live long enough to grow old. She lives in an Enclave called College where upon a coming of age ceremony, members go from being ‘brats’, referred to by numbers since they are not worth naming when so many die, to being given a name and worker role upon their coming of age ceremony. Worker roles include Builders, Breeders and Hunters. Deuce has always dreamed of serving her enclave as a Hunter who hunts for meat for her enclave, as well as protecting it from the Freaks, humanlike creatures with claws and predator teeth, who mad with rage and hunger will eat people, or each other.
Deuce is partnered with the mysterious Fade who was not born in the enclave, but managed to survive in the tunnels years on his own, almost becoming feral before he ended up at the enclave, where he had to learn its strict rules to ensure the survival of the group. On one of their first patrols Deuce and Fade stumble upon a child from another enclave which sets off a chain of events that cause Deuce to question whether the enclave rules are all for the best as well and cause her to question the things she has been told her whole life. The two Hunters discover that the Freaks have killed off another enclave and are evolving into creatures that are smarter and a threat to the survival of the enclave, but the enclave leaders forbid them to tell what they have learned. Eventually Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave and they head Topside, where it turns out Deuce is originally from and which is a complete shock to Deuce who discovers much of what she has been told are lies. Life Topside offers its own challenges and Fade believes their best hope is to go north to find a community of survivors as well as escape the Freaks who have started to come Topside, as well as a new threat, gangs. During their journey two additions are made to their group, Tegan and Stalker.
The book is timely considered many articles had been printed that 2012 according to the Mayan calendar is the year of an apocalypse. Every day I read about survivalists who are stocking up on food, ammunition and other supplies in order to survive a coming disaster, whether it be a natural disaster, disease or economic collapse causing famine. The Author’s Note references that the writer used Hurricane Katrina to project what cities would be like after a large scale disaster. It’s ironic that in this book the adults are missing as there has been much discussion in the world about the state of the planet that the older generations are leaving for the younger ones. Enclave also aligns with current social issues as in the book Fade and Deuce discover that the rich and powerful were evacuated out of the disaster and the poor and powerless were left behind to survive in the brutal aftermath, shades of the 1% vs. 99%? The truths in this book and the way it relates to current realities are what make it a truly spooky and intense book.