Meet Girl15. She lives underground not by choice, but by necessity. War and plague have obliterated New York City forcing most of civilization to migrate underground. The elders have long since warned the enclave of the severe dangers of Topside with horrific tales of acid rain and a sun that melts your skin off. Instead, they take their chances with the Freaks down below, a nasty breed of human-like creatures with a serious appetite for flesh. Living Down Below is rough and life expectancy is in the early 20's. Because many are lost at a young age, names are not given until they reach age 15. A naming ceremony is conducted and a role is provided: Breeder, Builder or Hunter.
Girl15’s naming ceremony leaves her with a new identity. She is now known as Deuce and will become a Huntress, something she has been training for her entire short life. She is immediately paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter wise beyond his years. Fade was found years before in the tunnels, a deranged, animalistic young boy who had been left to fend for himself…and survived. Welcomed into the enclave for his fighting skills alone, he is as much an outcast as he is a badass.
Deuce and Fade soon discover that they work well together, although their penchant for following directions is mediocre at best. They soon learn that you do not disobey the elders. As punishment, they are sent on a death mission to investigate the status of the neighboring enclave, a mission they aren’t expected to return from. Returning with horrific news of which the elders quickly dismiss, the duo find themselves wondering whose side the elders are really on. Later on, Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave. Fade assures Deuce that Topside is not as bad as the elders make it out to be, although it presents its own set of dangerous issues. With nothing more than a few key items, the pair travels to new territory, in search of hope, freedom and salvation.
Not since The Hunger Games have I read such a thrilling book that I inhaled in 12 hours flat. The world that the author has created is one that easily sucks you in via pure horror. You are presented with a dark, terrifying existence underground, where space is limited, food and medicine are scarce, and Freaks threat your very existence. There is nothing joyful about this stark existence, as every day is spent ensuring the survival of the enclave. The elders are relentless in their mission to keep the population in the dark about reality outside their home, and should anyone threatens their rule, well, use your imagination…
Duece is one hell of a heroine. She is a fierce huntress who is completely content living the dangerous life. However, she is also extremely compassionate, a character trait that is not respected or tolerated within the enclave. She is intelligent yet lacks real-life experience, including that of love and intimacy, as no one but Breeders are allowed to be romantically involved. This makes for interesting plot as love is presented to Deuce, and she remains completely oblivious. Most of all, however, Deuce is a survivor, and her perseverance to keep herself and her party alive are beyond admirable. Although her life has been nothing short of hellish, she never gives up on breathing.
Fade. Wow. What a character. He is the best Hunter the enclave has ever seen, yet he remains an outcast and is used only for his frightening ability to kill. He is an enigma, at first, but once his history and personality are slowly revealed, you begin to appreciate his depth. Fade’s tragic life experiences allow him to weasel his way into our hearts. As we watch him battle both physical and emotional threats, we cheer for his victory all the way. Fade is fierce, protective, and downright magnificent, in my eyes. He is an intense character with many layers.
The naming ceremony was a wicked cool idea! I will not go into details but I was very impressed with the author’s conception of this important event. It was quite creative. On a different note, I was left wondering about the Freaks and how they came into existence. I hope this is relayed in future books. This was my first book by the author, and I must say I am her newest fan girl. She has an amazing quality to her writing that is quite hypnotic. Her ability to make the reader feel as they though they, too, were fighting Freaks, experiencing intimacy for the first time, and enduring much despair and loss, was quite amazing. The ending to Enclave is abrupt, and makes your heart yearn for more connection between the characters. However, we haven’t seen the last of Deuce and Fade. When we meet again, I am more than prepared for greatness.(less)