New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20s. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters, or Freaks, who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known. – Goodreads description
I wasn’t sure about this book when I started it. I nearly put it down and picked up one of the hundreds of other books I have lying around, waiting to be read. But I decided to give it a fair shake, and next thing I knew… it was 4 AM and I was halfway through it. Which is always a good sign.
In the afterword the author discusses her research and how she formulated her ideas of what a post-apocalyptic society would have broken down.She also mentioned that she got the idea for Deuce’s underground enclave from the Mole People – those living under New York City in a counterculture. Which – totally fascinating, right?
As I read, the story and setting reminded me of a bunch of books and movies. Most notably The Walking Dead (particularly near the end of the book), the city from the movie 12 Monkeys, and, of course, the characters did smack of other YA dystopias such as The Hunger Games trilogy and Divergent.
The characters were interesting, and I definitely pulled for both Deuce and Fade. Though there were some bits where Deuce’s first person narrative smacked a little of Tris in Divergent (her self-doubt, determination to prove herself to people who don’t seem to think badly of her in the first place), I definitely didn’t find her annoying in the same way as Tris. Perhaps she falls somewhere between Tris’ annoying self-obsession/-deprecation and Katniss’ extreme self-reliance bordering on selfishness.
As mentioned in the beginning of this review, the plot totally drew me in. I completely lost track of time as I ventured into the tunnels and faced untold dangers with Deuce and Fade. The plot development was even, with just the right mix of suspense and resolution. I often have trouble with dystpian/post-apocalyptic stories because the adrenaline never lets up and I get exhausted. I liked that this story had ebbs and flows, and that they seem to be getting somewhere rather than spending chapters and chapters in desperate (if not outright hopeless) situations.
Of course there are criticisms I could make. I didn’t really buy some of the elements of the Enclave’s social structure, for example. Choosing your name by dripping blood on random objects made me snort a little, I’ll admit. And while I get the need to train people in a variety of different roles, it seems unrealistic (and just a bit dumb) to have “breeders” and “builders” who have no self-defense training, and not to allow anyone other than “breeders” to procreate. First of all, this leaves so much of the population without the skills to fight during an attack, creating an unfeasible vulnerability should their fighters get taken down. Secondly, it also assumes you can force 2/3 of the population (a population who are apparently all under the age of 25) to go against their hormones and, you know, biology. Based on my experiences in boarding school, college and university, I’m gonna go with a derisive snort and some raucous laughter at that concept.
But at the end of the day, if you can get through the first few chapters with some pretty intense suspension of disbelief, once we get past setting the scene the plot takes over and totally sweeps the reader along. This is just the sort of book that will appeal to those who enjoy a fast-paced dystopian thriller, and to those who are looking for some believable characters to root for.
Author: Ann Aguirre
Series: Razorland #1
Published By: Square Fish
Released: August 7, 2012
Genre: Fiction, Dystopian, Adventure, Young Adult