Enclave [ Razorland #1 ] by Ann Aguirre

Enclave (Razorland, #1)Title: Enclave
Series: Razorland
Author: Ann Aguirre
Publication Date: April 12th, 2011
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
ISBN: 0312650086
Rating: 2 stars

[NOTE: There are mentions of rape in this review, due to the way it was handled being insanely problematic and just wrong. However, the book does not show graphic rape, and just alludes to the fact that it was a possibility for Deuce, and was in Tegan’s backstory.]

With a heavy heart (I am really disappointed that this wasn’t a better book), I am giving this book only 2 stars, as it lacked in many of the most important areas and occasionally made me want to rage.

The horror was as good as could be expected from a low-quality young adult dystopian novel, not exactly bone-chilling but creating a decent amount of suspense. I also liked some of the characters, finding them to be interesting and almost believable, although they did tend to lack in some way, as if they wanted to come to life as three-dimensional characters but were just prevented from doing so by the author. The love interest, Fade, was a lovely character, and perhaps was the one that was given the most depth. I also liked Tegan, a young girl who has suffered through horrible things.

And that’s pretty much the extent of my praise.

I had trouble warming up to Deuce, although she does (almost – there are a few problems I will touch on in a bit) get better after becoming disillusioned by the government of the Enclave. Still, it was hard to sympathize with her. I have no problem with unlikable protagonists or characters with great flaws, but a good author can make the audience sympathize with them and care about them despite their assholery. This was not the case here, where Deuce grated more often than not.

The first half of the book is regarding the Enclave and Deuce’s disillusionment with their methods. The second half consists of adventuring outside (these people have somehow lived underground without proper nutrition or sunlight, but I suppose one must suspend their disbelief to an extent) after being exiled with Fade. Topside, Deuce and Fade meet Stalker, a clever, but savage rapist and gang-leader. He seems like a great antagonist, somewhat charming, interesting, but utterly unforgivable in his actions.

The problem?

He almost becomes a love interest to Deuce.

He’s a SERIAL RAPIST! And no, it’s not some dysfunctional thing in which Deuce is just a masochist or has to reconcile her attraction to him with his being a horrible person or whatever, it’s like there’s just a sudden BACKTRACK. Deuce and Fade go from finding him to be this horrible RAPIST, to excusing his actions and forcing Tegan (one of his victims) to deal with his presence. At one point, Deuce thinks something to the effect of, “if Tegan isn’t over what happened to her yet, there’s no hope for her.”

Really, Tegan is seen as weak, as she “let” guys rape her, and is even weaker for voicing the fact that Stalker is a horrible person. And then, as if to just force this problem to go away, Tegan is suddenly seemingly totally over everything that happened and is willing to hang out with Stalker with the rest of them. I think, perhaps, the author was making this dastardly villain, then decided he was pretty cool, so HEY LET’S JUST THROW A RANDOM LOVE TRIANGLE IN HERE AND MAKE HIM NOT REALLY SUCH A BAD GUY EVEN IF HE’S A RAPIST.

Yeah, it’s just disgusting.

Some of the minor characters are little more than cardboard cut-outs, especially the women, who Deuce is very critical of. She thinks “Breeders” are useless and tends to think of most women as victims. This novel suffers from the horrible pseudo-feminism in which the only women who are worth anything are “strong women”, which only consists of women who can kill things. Nevermind the fact that MEN who can’t kill things aren’t devalued, and the male breeders are not, by any means, looked down upon in the narrative nearly in the same way as the women.

Enclave is an interesting, albeit unrealistic, take on the apocalypse, but there are just far too many really problematic aspects (from the treatment of women to the low quality writing) to make it an enjoyable read. I’m not sure I could recommend it without some serious guilt or a big ol’ disclaimer about Stalker, Tegan, and Deuce’s really disgusting views on things. With that said, my utter masochism and desire to see if this series will get any better will probably cause me to eventually read the second book in the series. From there, I’ll decide if the series is worth sticking with.


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