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 20's. 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 who's 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.
I have had this one on my TBR list for a while now and I have read some good reviews. But I really had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised! I really, really enjoyed this one! The world that Ann Aguirre has created is everything that this genre should be, but without being cheesy and predictable. The first half of the book takes place in the underground
tunnels where we meet the inhabitants of the College Enclave. I found the everyday living and governing of the enclave to be fascinating. Along with the other inhabitants of the tunnels, the Freaks. I guess some would call them the 'zombies' of this story, but I liked that they were more of the mutant species. Ann Aguirre did a great job of creating a picture of these grotesque, scary, bone chilling creatures! I loved them!
The main character and voice of the story, Deuce, is such a great character. She is a strong, kick-ass, yet believable girl...which I love! She has dreamed of becoming a Huntress and has watched the other Hunters with admiration her whole life. It is what she was meant to do, and she is good at it. Once she is branded as a Huntress she is teamed up with Fade. He is the outcast of the enclave. Yes, he has proven that he is one of the best of the Hunters, but he is an outsider and not considered one of them. Fade is a very strong, sexy, yet understated character. I loved the dynamics between these two. As a fighting duo they are tops. But I also loved the understated chemistry between them. There was none of the unrealistic 'love at first sight' or love triangle nonsense involved here. As a reader you are definitely rooting for these two and become very invested in their lives.
The other secondary characters in this book are all well-developed as well. Some of them may not play Hugh roles, but they most definitely make their own impacts on the story as a whole. I really loved the Burrowers and Jengu. I would have loved more of them and who knows maybe they survived and they will make an appearance in the next book.
The second half of the book takes place after Deuce and Fade are banished Topside. I enjoyed this other dimension to the story and the addition of some new characters. Not only do they have the Freaks to contend with but the gangs of 'wolves' were added to the mix. During this conflict we are introduced two other important characters in the story, Tegan and Stalker. Tegan provides a kinda of sisterhood for Deuce, which she is in need of considering how alone they all are. Although, Stalker starts off as the strong villain? I really do like him and look forward to seeing where Ann Aguirre takes this character in the next book.
If you are a fan of YA Post-Apocalyptic Dystopian or just looking for something different? I highly recommend this book. I am eagerly awaiting book 2...Outpost...due out September of 2012!