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 Deuce 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.
This is another book that started out at a five star and screwed itself over in the process. It’s a dystopian novel that follows a girl named Deuce. She and other children in her enclave (called College) are assigned numbers until their naming ceremony (which happens when they’re 15). The elders slice open the kids’ arms and wherever their blood lands is their name. Deuce’s blood landed on a two card from a deck. Hence, her name. She’s our protagonist and I really liked her, which was a departure from most people on Goodreads. At first she was a brainwashed, loyal participant in her elders’ reign of terror, but she’s enlightened pretty quickly. I like how she reflected on being shunned and being sorry for shunning the others that came before her. She shows an ability to think critically, a quality that a lot of protagonists (male and female) seem to lack.
Deuce is a Huntress, which means she goes out with her partner and kills “Freaks,” better known to us as zombies. She is partnered up with Fade, a 17 year old who was found in the enclave’s tunnels when he was young and mostly wild. Fade is enigmatic and quiet and has never quite fit into the Hunters or the enclave. I personally wouldn’t call him a bad boy, but he does have a pretty bitter and terrifying past. He’s cold and standoffish with Deuce at first, but he’s never cruel which is rare these days when it comes to YA love interests.
WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS
Deuce’s enclave has strict, harsh rules and deadly punishment. They live in tunnels beneath NYC and have never seen the outside world, which they call Topside. College enclave’s people are divided into four groups: Breeders, Builders, Hunters and Elders. College’s people only live to be about twenty-five or so, which sort of blows my mind since I myself am creeping up on thirty (27 in September, y’all!). Only Breeders can have sex and keep the enclave going, so Deuce has very little experience with boys or even those kinds of feelings in general. The biggest law to be broken in College is the law against hoarding–hiding bits and pieces from the world before (like magazines etc).
The book begins with Deuce being Named and entering the Hunter group. She’s dreamed of being a Huntress for a long time and is really content in her place in College. She and Fade go out to hunt zombies and they notice that the zombies seem to be getting smarter (one of my biggest fears EVER. Can you imagine a zombie chasing you when they’re only supposed to be able to limp?). They’re sent out to the next enclave, Nassau, to investigate because no one from College has heard from them in a long time. Deuce and Fade grow closer and find that the zombies, intelligent ones, have taken out Nassau completely. They try to tell the elders, but no one will listen.
When some contraband is found in Deuce’s friend’s room, the elders are going to exile him. Deuce knows he didn’t steal any of the items, so she says it was her. Fade also claims to have had part in the hoarding. They are exiled and shunned by their friends, which really throws Deuce for a curve. Her worldview and perceptions start changing and she realizes that the elders have almost everything wrong. Deuce and Fade eventually make it to Topside.
In Topside, Deuce is confronted with the sky and the fact that the elders were wrong about the world above as well. As they travel into the city, they’re confronted with gangs and are taken by a gang that calls themselves the Wolves. Deuce manages to save a girl who has been raped repeatedly from the gangs.
TINA’S SOAPBOX: There’s some pretty blatant homophobia in this book. Deuce mentions that anyone who was “twisted in that way” was exiled immediately and she and Fade talk about how horrible it would be to be that way. And I get that this is a post-apocalyptic world and shit is all kinds of fucked up, and maybe it’s just my modern brain unable to deal with such discrimination, but I found it hard to continue after that part. It made me legitimately angry. And in addition to the homophobia, there’s blatant victim-blaming. When Deuce finds out that Tegan was repeatedly raped, Deuce wonders why Tegan “didn’t fight until she died.” Um, maybe she’s not as strong as you, big judgy Huntress. She admitted that much, anyway. Maybe Tegan didn’t want to die, despite her circumstances. Maybe Deuce should just STFU about things she doesn’t understand. These things made the book lose a star. /SOAPBOX
Anyway, they come across some more intelligent zombies and kill basically every member of the Wolves except for the leader. He comes with them. Fade is jealous of Stalker (the Wolf guy) so he and Deuce start to drift apart (not that there was a lot of romance to begin with). The foursome stays in a cottage for the winter, and then the book starts to wrap up.
This book is scary, especially if you’re afraid of zombies, like me. It’s also a really easy read. I took me sixteen hours to read, so it kept me really focused and engrossed. There is a bare minimum of romance, though. Fade and Deuce kiss like twice, no joke, and that’s it, so be prepared for that. The next book doesn’t come out until Fall 2012 so if I haven’t forgotten about them, I’ll be reading it then!