Enclave  - Ann Aguirre Post-plague, underground, dystopian fiction set in a smallish, harsh, survival-of-the-fittest society, a deserted, crumbling New York City, unexpected friendship, a hint of romance and super-gory zombies!

"Enclave" turned out to be extremely engrossing. Although, sometimes, I was a little chicken to turn the page and find out what happened next, I craved to return to the story with a feverish intensity each time I decided to shut down my Kindle, since nourishing my body, working for my living and catching the minimum amount of sleep seemed to be a sensible thing to do, but felt oh so annoying. Do you realize how lucky I am to have once again experienced that kind of addicted rush that turned me into someone who reads on a daily basis in the first place? If you glance at my current average rating of 3.1something you maybe do. I admit, I tend to forget again and again the huge emotional difference between reading a book I like and devouring a book with zest - sticky bones, minor flaws and all. Right now I am in the middle of an unquestionably clever, worthwhile book (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms), and I eventually want to find out how it ends, but in comparison to spending time with the "Enclave" consuming it feels only marginally entertaining (to me).

When I wrote my original review yesterday - right on my Kindle - I thought I had to be fair and reduce my enthusiastic rating by half a star at least because of the completely unnecessary beginning of a love-triangle subplot and certain vagueness concerning the survival of a person who got dear to the socially already very deprived heroine - and certainly to me. Mainly because other books I have read would have suffered the same "punishment". Yet after Maya supplied me with a blog entry by the author in which she addresses the love-triangle-accusation and other reader complaints (http://www.annaguirre.cm/archives/2011/08/16/enclave/) my fear for a "Who-on-dystopian-earth-should-I-love-now" sequel did not wholly subside, but turned into something wholesomely optimistic and made me wonder whether having a book which I enjoyed as much as "Enclave" really deserved to anonymously drown in the crowd of four-star-worthy books on my "read" shelf. My rating system is heavily depending on gut feeling and my personal enjoyment. Being fair is to my books would be a ridiculous endeavour. Another thing that helped me understand were the author's notes at the end of the book. I had been wondering how the community in the "College" Enclave had lost and forgotten so much of our culture and of former "Topside" life after a mere half century maybe. Deuce does not know about the moon, about rivers and snow, or what a zipper is, what a wedding invitation might be for, and what the material plastic is called. Aguirre explains that in her imagination only the the rich and powerful had the means to flee the cities when the catastrophe happened. So the people who survived and made the survival of the next generation possible by forming topside gangs and underground enclaves had been the underpriviledged and poor. People who - at least in the beginning - did not care about written material or about handing their offspring a sense of their species' history. It made sense to me. And the information about the long shelf-life of canned food smoothed my skeptical frown. What I still do not get is how the underground clans make do without carbonhydrates. Apart from rare finds (tinned fruit etc.) Deuce's community lives on meat, fish and mushrooms only. I know that the Enclave's ancient-looking eldests are only 25, but is the human brain able to function without glucose? I am not sure, but in the end I find I do not really care.

"Enclave" just offered a mix that was strangely irresistable to me – personally:
- A fifteen year-old girl, a huntress who takes pride in what she does, who sees the facade of her safe and perfect worlds crumble and starts to question the infinite authority of her community’s cruel and insincere elders.
- She gradually falls in love with her topside-born mysterious partner although she had been taught that romance was reserved for the weak and pretty, namely the chosen breeders.
- Part of the book’s charm is her open-eyed wonder about the sky, the moon, the buildings and the rest of our civilizations remains.
- Part of the book’s thrill is that she and Fade are admirably tough fighters and kill countless foul-smelling zombies out for their flesh in perfect choreography.
- This likable pair acts in front of two very bleak, but interesting settings: The dark metro tunnels in which you reach the neighboring enclave only by running three days through zombie-infested territory and the toppled ghost-town of New York ruled by raping, murdering teenage boys who will die young in a fight over their territories.
- The move to Topside presents Deuce unexpectedly with a real friend and with a deadly enemy turned into a valued companion.

Well. That somehow does not sound convincing, I know. But how should I talk with my guts? Can you tell me?