WELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE
In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.
As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.
Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first she thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace.
As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.
I loved this book a lot. I read it right after Divergent, and the similarities really jumped out at me. Deuce seemed a bit more real to me, though, and the threats in her world were more vivid, so this book holds a little more love. Deuce is such an active character, and her relationship with Fade is a really neat situation. It's refreshing to see that Aguirre has constructed a world where gender really doesn't matter and has no past patriarchy to undermine the equality ideal and yet allows characters to have romantic attachments as equals without destroying the worldbuilding. The plot is full of action and I liked how Aguirre describes things in a matter-of-fact manner that lends a little more voice to Deuce. The halfway twist is a great way of turning the plot around, and even though Fade's world is a little more boring and slower-paced than Deuce's I didn't really mind because I needed a break from all the piling-on of horror that I had in the first part and the promise of two more books makes me excuse some slowing down for worldbuilding and exposition that will be needed later. I anxiously await Outpost, too bad it's going to be almost a year!