This was only the second book I’ve read by Aguirre, with the first being Skin Game, which I was less than impressed with. And yes, I realize I still haven’t read the one series lauded as her best, Sirantha Jax, but I will get to it one of these days. Although Enclave had some great ideas, some very quotable passages, and some fascinating characters, I think it also fell short in a number of ways.This book tells the story of Deuce; a girl living underground in the tunnels and sewer systems of a post-apocalyptic New York City. She lives primitively in an enclave where you’re a hunter, a builder, a breeder, or an elder. If you aren’t strong, you don’t survive. Even the lowest of the classes, the breeders, are still the ones who are good looking and intelligent. The weak, sickly, or stupid don’t live long in this community. Deuce is one of the hunters. She brings meat back for the rest to eat and keeps them all safe from the Freaks; grotesque monsters with a never-ending appetite who live outside the enclave. Problems arise when the Freaks encroach more and more upon the enclave, and Deuce is formally teamed up with Fade and forced to find out exactly why the Freaks are attacking closer and becoming braver. Nobody likes Fade, a teen boy a few years older than Deuce who had only recently arrived at the enclave, and Deuce has to deal with enduring feeling like an outcast alongside him for the first time. Her resolve is shaken and her faith in her people and the rules she’s lived by her whole life are greatly tested. It isn’t until she’s forced out of the enclave does she finally realize that she knows nothing about the world she lives in.Deuce was an obvious choice for my favorite character, but only because she was the most developed. She’s struggling throughout the book for answers and warring with her upbringing and the rules forced down her throat, but it gets to the point where you just want to shake her. Yes, I get it, you were a huntress and important and now you’re not. The world is not what you thought, roles can be reversed, and people grow up differently depending on their situation. This gets reiterated time and time again, up until the last few pages of the book. I understand that when comparing Deuce’s life underground with her experiences above creates an interesting juxtaposition, but there comes a time when you don’t have to tell me how different things are. I liked her nonetheless though, and she was a decidedly strong character who time and time again did what she had to do. She definitely changed from the brat who blindly followed what her elders told her to a young woman who could think for herself.The first third of this book focused on life underground in the enclave and introduced the rigid day to day activities and methods of survival that Deuce and the rest of her people live by. It’s a harsh life with little to look forward to, and the rules and regulations are practically beaten into every child since they’re born.I think this part of the book really set things up well; you get a sense of the dank despair the group live in and how they have their rules to keep everyone alive. If the people are allowed to breed indiscriminately then diseases can flourish, if the hunters don’t train every day then they might get killed by a Freak, if you find an artifact and keep it for yourself then you’re denying everybody what little culture they could have. It’s a very depressing existence but it’s all they know.Fade is the disturbing force in this equilibrium and it becomes obvious that he won’t be able to go with the flow for very long. I wanted to like him more than I did though. He’s the strong rebellious bad boy, and he’s also tall, dark, and mysterious, so what’s not to love? I don’t know, I just didn’t feel like I ever really got to know him. It also didn’t help that he was barely acknowledged in the last half of the book, except to talk about how distant he had become. I also felt like the romance between Fade and Deuce didn't evolve as organically as I would have liked. I understood that their shared experiences and the amount of time they spent together and relied on each other moved their romance along faster than it would have in real life, but I still didn't believe that they could fall in love so quickly.Once Deuce and Fade left the underground, the novel rushed forward more than I wanted it to as well. I did enjoy it when they found a new relic or came across a new type of food – the introduction of SPAM in particular was funny – but I still didn’t feel like enough time was spent developing this section as the time she took with the underground parts. There are two other characters introduced after they leave the enclave, and neither of them really got fleshed out enough. This book was just too short to include them and expect me to become attached. Plus, the second boy, Stalker, isn’t one I could ever like when considering the circumstances he came from. The girl, Tegan, is there to elicit an emotional response as well, but it just didn’t happen for me. I felt more for the other enclave citizens and friends that Deuce and Fade left behind than these two new characters.It’s funny, because Fade echoed my thoughts in the end:"Don’t leave me, Deuce. I need you. I want it to be like it was, before the others came." (251)Me too, Fade, me too.The ending cut the story off at a point that was not very satisfying. It’s the kind that makes you turn the page and wonder where the rest is, and then you realize, oh, I have to wait for the next book now. Will I be continuing on with this series? That’s more than likely, but the way it ended didn’t leave me with any feeling of excitement over the next installment, it left me feeling cheated out of the full story. It’s a bit ho-hum and less than ideal, and hopefully the next book is developed better. I guess I’ll just have to wait (over a year!) to see what happens in the next book in the series, Outpost.