Deuce lives underground in her enclave where life expectancy is short and live is brutal. From the time she was a brat, she knew that she wanted to be a Huntress. Now that she is 15, she goes through the naming ceremony and is given the role of Huntress in her community. It is her job, along with her partner, to protect the enclave from the strange beings, Freaks, that share their underground world. Deuce is paired with Fade, a Hunter who was not born in the enclave, but found wandering underground. As Deuce learns more about their society, she begins to question the enclave’s rules and the injustices she sees. When she sacrifices herself to save a friend, Deuce is thrown out of the safety of her community and forced to survive with just Fade to help her.
The strength of this book was in the underground world, the enclave and its lies, the brutality of the life, the unquestioning people, the darkness and danger. The world Aguirre created underground is compelling and intriguing. Deuce’s character is equally successful. She is a strong heroine whose weakness is ignorance thanks to the enclave. She experiences real growth as a character as she learns the truth.
Unfortunately, the book does not stay underground. When Deuce and her partner head to Topside to survive, the book loses some of its strength as well as its unique society and setting. For me, the book seemed to drag despite the high level of violence.
But for me, worst of all was that the world building that worked so well underground began to fall apart. The Topside misuse of women angered me, but even worse was the insistence that one of the raped women accept one of the gang as a compatriot in their travels. That she had to let her repeated rapes go and learn to cope seemed to trivialize rape and survival at the same time.
Readers of dystopian fantasy may enjoy this series, but I will stop reading with this first book. Appropriate for ages 15-18.
Reviewed from copy received from Feiwel and Friends.
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