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Enclave - Ann Aguirre I really enjoyed the world and plot of the book, it's just a shame it was let down by terrible characterization.

Most of the characters were just.. there. If you asked me about the protagonist, Deuce, I'd say she was 'a Huntress', since that's the only way she identifies herself, and the reader isn't given much more insight to get to know her. Aguirre seems to be trying to show that she's a kind person inside, but this doesn't really ring true, especially given her instant jealousy of nearly every female character. I found her attitudes towards other women generally distasteful, but other than that there wasn't much to like or dislike about her. Fade seemed even more of a non-character. I get that he's supposed to be all mysterious, but that doesn't mean that his personality has to be hidden in the mists too.

Then there's Stalker. I can enjoy redemption stories. What I can't enjoy is being introduced to a character one minute as a ruthless gang leader who both rapes women himself and encourages it of others, and finds fun in hunting people down as a form of bloodsport - and the next we're meant to admire him for his strength and 'doing what needed to be done', and forgive him of all his past. What's more, Deuce seems to act as though Tegan and Stalker putting the past behind them is on the same level. Like Stalker giving up his leadership is the same as Tegan forgiving him of everything he did to her, either directly or indirectly (because of course Stalker didn't rape Tegan himself, so that's ok, right?). This is the part of the book that made me feel generally icky and uncomfortable. Tegan finally breaks free from years of captivity, beatings, and rape and is then essentially told to just get over it. What's more, we are constantly reminded of how weak she is, and how different to Deuce, and it is made clear that Deuce would never let the same thing happen to her, because she's strong and a Huntress. Deuce's references to Tegan as a Breeder don't even make sense - she wasn't from the Enclave so she didn't grow up with those roles. She didn't train as a warrior, but she also didn't have expectations of breeding. She was a girl who was captured by a group of men bigger and stronger than her, kept as basically a sex slave, and forced to give birth TWICE to children that died (we don't know how). Yet Deuce still implies that Tegan's Breeder nature (i.e. Breeders are weak and emotional) was the reason this happened, and as a Huntress she would have fought to the death. It's this implicit undertone of looking down on women, except of course for Deuce, that really ruined the book for me.

Anyway, rant over, let's move on. The writing reminded me a lot of the Hunger Games as it was very much a case of 'I did this. And then I did this. And then this happened'. This makes it a very easy and fast read, but I don't find it particularly engaging. Actually, I feel like Enclave's plot and world merged with HG's characters would have made a pretty decent novel. The post-apocalyptic concepts were interesting, and the plot progressed at a nice pace. I enjoyed the focus on the survival aspects and the journey, and whilst there were elements of 'romance' and love triangles, they weren't at the forefront.

Overall, I'd say the world of Enclave will stick with me, but the boring characters, uninspired writing, and uncomfortable undertones really let it down.