Monday, October 17, 2011

Enclave by Ann Aguirre


I wanted to like this book...After reading numerous reviews comparing Enclave  to Hunger Games and Divergent, I couldn't wait to devour another exciting novel.  Unfortunately, though, this book fell flat.  The top reasons I won't be including Enclave on the Top Tiger Book List:


1.  The characters are not well-developed.  I never really bonded with Deuce -   no specific information concerning her former family, the lack of any real detailed interactions with those she considered her close friends, very few flashbacks in the plot revealing her life growing up as a Brat in the Enclave, etc. made me feel as if I never really knew enough about her to ultimately care much about her fate.  In Hunger Games, Collins was able to take a relatively minor character, Rue, and create someone haunting and memorable despite her relatively brief role in Book One of the Hunger Games trilogy.


2.  The plot in Enclave has its moments of excitement but as a whole, it seems pretty unoriginal.  There's been a trend to write dystopia fiction where the futuristic setting actually mimics primitive surroundings, humans are reduced to an uncivilized state in order to survive,  there's a strong heroine who is skillyfully capable of defending herself and others, most of the society is being controlled by a communist-type government which strives to keep their citizens complacent and obedient by using control, fear tactics, etc. and the government typically hiding any signs or relics from the past in order to lie or confuse their citizens about what the world used to be like.


 In order to stand out, there must be something unique within the story.  Divergent implemented intensive battles, fights, and conflicts. The intiation tests of the Dauntless faction differed greatly throughout the novel - increasing the excitement and anticipation of what would be next for the reader. The characters were forced to participate in terrifying scenarios which reflected their deepest, secret fears....The threat was not only physical - but tapped into one's deepest psychological fears...


In Enclave, Deuce and Fade are frequently attacked by Freaks...smarter Freaks....hungry Freaks....a large number of Freaks...Freaks with the ability to reason...again and again.  There's no real creativity in the conflict Deuce, Fade, and the Enclave face beyond attacks from this mutant species.  Even the names given to different groups in the novel, such as Breeders, Brats, and Freaks, lack originality.


3.  Love/Betrayal is just one of the enticing elements in the Hunger Games and Divergent series.  The budding romance between Fade and Deuce seems artificial, undeveloped, and pale in comparison to Katniss/Peeta and Tris/Four.  I did appreciate, however, the surprising love traingle which appears to be emerging at the end of the novel between Deuce and Slash...


4.   The glorified violence was a big turn-off for me as a reader.  Many of the young adult novels in this genre do have frequent epsiodes of violence interwoven throughout the plot  - reflecting how society has become dangerous, apathetic to others, etc. 


Enclave, however, goes over and beyond the inclusion of violent acts by including very graphic, explicit detail - bones splitting, guts spilling out, the gouge and subsequent hiss of a stabbed eyeball, the appearance of Freaks engaging in a feeding frenzy when they trap an injured person, kill a human - or even after the death of one of their own.  Though the main character Deuce claims she doesn't believe in violence except in self-defese, she clearly enjoys inflicting pain and death upon her enemies....enjoying the power, pain, and even the appearance of blood - making her at times appear sadistic and to me, unlikeable as a character, much less a heroine.


Sooooo....despite all the accolades and comparisons of Enclave to two of my favorite books (and previous Top Tiger Book Award contenders) Hunger Games and Divergent,  Enclave does have a little flash here and there, but overall the story lacks any real  substance.