Audiobook Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

24 05 2012

Enclave by Ann Aguirre (Razorland, Bk. 1)

Read by Emily Bauer

Macmillan Audio

Length: 7 Hrs 53 Min

Genre: Young Adult Post Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: Ann Aguire accomplished what she sets out to by creating a fascinating post apocalyptic world, filling it with characters you can cheer for, and adding enough betrayal, conspiracy and romance, that it is sure to capture the attentions of young adult readers. Yet, for me, I would have been willing to sacrifice the fast paced nature of the narrative and even a bit of the action in order to examine the world she created with a bit more depth.

Grade: B-

There are a whole lot of different types of Apocalyptic and Post Apocalyptic fiction. I have always preferred the Pre to Post near Apocalyptic fiction. This details the characters journeys from society as usual through an apocalyptic event and onto trying to adjust to the new situations and set up a new order.  Then there is the far post apocalyptic tales. These stories take place years, decades or even generations after a major cataclysm, and the world is still shaped by these events. One of my favorite aspects of the Far Post Apocalyptic novel is the evolution of history of the apocalypse and what lead up to it. Often in these far future societies, those who control the information, control society. They adjust the information to best suit their purposes. Religious societies will use the apocalypse as proof that society had failed God at some point, and that in order to survive people must adhere to a strict religious code. Information can serve many purposes. Societies can teach that they are the only survivors, keeping their citizens stuck to one spot, in fear that if they leave, they will die. While history isn’t always written by the victors, in post apocalyptic society, it usually is written by those who manage to survive. One of the reasons I choose Enclave as a listen is I haven’t read too many far future apocalyptic fiction with a zombiesh feel. How would society evolve with the constant threat of changed humans to deal with?

Enclave tells the story of Deuce, a young huntress in an underground city enclave. Having just achieved her Name Day, Deuce is paired with Fade, an outcast who spent years surviving on his own, to patrol the tunnels around their home protecting the Enclave from Freaks, feral humans with a taste for human flesh. A series of circumstances, including a dangerous mission leads Deuce to start questioning everything she’s been taught. Aguire has created a complex and interesting world in this young adult post apocalyptic adventure story. I was fascinated by The Enclave, and how it set up its form of society. As Deuce leaned more, and the scope of her world grew larger, it was interesting to see things through this sheltered, naive girl’s eyes. Yet, this was one of the rare recent occurrences where the young adult nature of the novel failed to connect with me. The novel seemed all too often to be surface level, presenting interesting scenarios, but never really dealing into them. Every time something interesting came to be, before we could really examine them, we transitioned to a new situation. This wouldn’t have been too big of an issue if Aguire hadn’t created such interesting societal microcosms, which could have used broadening. Yet, this sort of societal extrapolation was sacrificed to the gods of adventure and pacing. There is a lot of action in Enclave, yet the action is so quick, and final that there never seems to be much tension. While the fights were not one-sided, their brevity seemed to almost make them feel that way. These characters were in many life threatening situations, I just never felt they were. As with many Young Adult novels, the romantic tensions seemed forced, throwing in a potential suitor for both Deuce and Fade, to add obstacles for possible romantic entanglements that I never really believe. Ann Aguire accomplished what she sets out to by creating a fascinating post apocalyptic world, filling it with characters you can cheer for, and adding enough betrayal, conspiracy and romance, that it is sure to capture the attentions of young adult readers. Yet, for me, I would have been willing to sacrifice the fast paced nature of the narrative and even a bit of the action in order to examine the fascinating world she created with a bit more depth.

As narrator, I feel Emily Bauer did a good job translating the character of Deuce as written. Despite being a talented Huntress, Deuce could be quote naive and petulant, and Bauer’s characterization captures this well. I wish. I think the audiobook would have been a bit more listenable if the character was a bit more mature, because the often whiney undertones of Bauer’s characterizations could become annoying despite the fact that it fit the character. That being said, Bauer never let’s you forget that Deuce and Fade, by the standards of our society, are quite young, and her voicing of these characters offers a stark contrast to the desolation of the apocalyptic landscape. Bauer definitely handled the fast past narrative with ease, pacing the novel crisply but never allowing it to get away from her, The action scenes came off smoothly, allowing the reader to easily follow the action. While Enclave won’t make my favorite list, the world she has built is interesting enough to have me willing to move on in the series.

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