First impressions: I couldn't put it down! Could not. I started it on a Saturday night right before bed, and stayed up until I was halfway done. The next day I picked it up and read it straight through to the end. Two sittings and it was over! Few books give as strong of a first impression as that.
Lasting impressions: A taut, suspenseful, realistic dystopian that kept my skin crawling in all the best ways.
Conflicting impressions: I had the same thought as Amanda. Deuce? Her name is Deuce? Please tell me this is a joke.
Overall impressions: I love post-apocalyptic stories. I love strong female characters. I love mysterious cute male characters. I love dystopias where the strong female character doesn't know how bad things are until she gets a new perspective introduced by mysterious cute male characters.
I knew I was going to like this book. I didn't know I'd love it.
Ms. Aguirre creates a world so richly detailed that it completely absorbed me. As Deuce stumbled blindly through dark subterranean tunnels, fighting off rabid zombie-like "Freaks," my heart pounded. I turned the pages so fast I nearly tore them from the book. I had to know what was going to happen! This world was dangerous and surprising and really kept me on my toes. Kudos for the well done suspense.
Deuce is a fairly typical protagonist for a dystopic novel. She's a bit naive about how the system is working against her, rather than for her. She's idealistic and wants to contribute to their strict society. She doesn't like to ruffle feathers. She believes she is being protected and cared for, and that the information she receives from her elders is true and correct. Over the course of the book, we come to realize that her life is not as grand as she thought it once was.
Fade is an outsider in Deuce's community. He's not well looked upon, and is only allowed to stay because he's an excellent Hunter. When he and Deuce are paired together, it's a punishment of sorts, and she doesn't want to be stuck with the guy whose last partner died. Deuce is excellent at what she does, and like Fade, is constantly out to prove herself. As they work together to check traps and fight off Freaks - who seem to be getting smarter and more vicious - they are forced to develop a bit of trust. Their relationship gets cemented after a grueling journey to a nearby camp, and it's at this point that Deuce's world view starts to change.
It would take all of the fun out of the book to reveal the events that affect Deuce enough to drive her above ground for the first time in her life, and what course her life takes when she's out from under the authoritarian enclave. The second part of the book reveals a whole new world to Deuce, with different challenges, and it's where she really is forced to make tough choices.
One of my favorite things about this book is that no one is all good or all bad. The characters each do things that are valiant and despicable. Someone who once was an enemy may become a friend, and friends can always betray you. Deuce can truly only rely on herself, her instincts, her skills as a Huntress, and her humanity to guide her life's journey. Despite the hellish place America has become, Deuce is determined to persevere.
I can't wait to see what the next stage in her life brings. Book two, Outpost, is out this fall, and I'm really looking forward to it.
Rating: 4/5 stars