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Today is the last giveaway in Christmas in August.  We have a few things open.  Thank you so much for entering.  We have some winners here

Enclave (Razorland #1)

By Ann Aguirre

Okay, so Ann Aguirre’s YA debut isn’t Steampunk, but there’s a lot for steampunkers to love in this book–even if you don’t usually like zombies, dystopian, or even YA.

In some distant (or not so distant) future Deuce’s world is an underground labyrinth of tunnels and a series of strict rules in a society where the death rate is so high children aren’t even named until they are fifteen.  Deuce is a huntress, her job it to brave the tunnels outside the enclave and avoid the monsters known as “Freaks” to bring back meat for the group.  She’s assigned a partner, Fade, who’s different from the other members in the enclave and entertains notions considered “dangerous” by Deuce–such as perhaps those in charge of the enclave are lying.  When the previously-thought-to-be-mindless Freaks develop intelligence, the elders ignore Fade and Deuce’s warning.  When the two of them are exiled, the only place left for them to go is topside. 

I love Deuce, because she’s a very smart, level-headed, practical heroine (and she’s badass, but out of necessity, because as a huntress, that’s her job).  Even though this book is YA, because of Deuce’s maturity and all the action, I think this book might appeal to those who might not usually pick up a YA, even if you’re not a dystopian/post-apocalyptic fan.

The world building is fantastic and well thought out.  I loved reading about the culture and customs developed by Deuce’s tunnel-dwelling society.  Unlike many stories in this genre, ENCLAVE isn’t depressing, but hopeful.  However, it is gritty — survival is life in Deuce’s world and they fight for it daily.  There’s a ton of action including some great (though gruesome) fight scenes against the Freaks (zombies, but they’re not described in the usual way, so if you usually avoid zombie books, you might give this one a try anyway.)  When she and Fade go topside I love how they react to what’s left of our world and I thought their reactions and thoughts to things we take for granted but they may have never seen or even heard about was fantastic. 

Overall, this was a face paced, well written book with great characters and some terrific dialogue.  I read this in two sittings and was completely sucked into the world Aguirre created (and usually I avoid books with Zombies.)

So, what’s your favorite dystopian/post-apocalyptic book?

I have a previously read ARC to give away to one lucky commenter.  It’s been read by more than me, but it is an ARC, with the CD in the back AND it’s SIGNED.  All you have to do is comment below.  Open internationally.  Contest closes September 10th, 2011 at 11:59 PST. 

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  Her debut novel, Innocent Darkness, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. 

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Fantasy February continues.  Today we have the amazing Ann Aguirre who’s dystopian YA debut Enclave releases April 12th, 2011.

Ann Aguirre is a national bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, two cats, and one very lazy dog. She likes all kinds of books, emo music, action movies and Dr. Who. She writes urban fantasy (the Corine Solomon series), romantic science fiction (the Jax series), apocalyptic paranormal romance (the Ellen Connor books with Carrie Lofty), paranormal romantic suspense (as Ava Gray), and post-apocalyptic dystopian young adult fiction.

How the Apocalypse is Like Cupcakes

by Ann Aguirre

To make cupcakes, you need flour, sugar, leavening, eggs, milk, and flavoring, which can come in many varieties like vanilla, chocolate or ground almonds. The apocalypse is the same way. Generally, it’s not one single event that causes everything to fall apart. War, famine, disease, global warming, manmade pestilence, bio-plagues, chemical weapons, pollution, radiation — as you can see the possibilities are rather endless. And in the fictional sense, at least, dystopian fiction can be every bit as delicious as the dessert referenced above.

I’m always profoundly uncomfortable discussing my work in more than abstract terms. The book should stand or fall on its own merits, and therefore, my awkward enthusiasm for a work I’ve created serves no purpose. However, for a review that says everything about ENCLAVE, this is the one to read. Ms. Holland is far more eloquent on the subject of ENCLAVE than I could ever be, but this is my favorite quote:

“…the action and violence are balanced with a deep sensitivity. Deuce wants to be a cold huntress who only focuses on her objective, but her heart gets in the way. She wants to save lives, even the lives of those that the leaders have deemed useless, and she has some serious moral questions about how much mercy she can afford to show before she jeopardizes her own survival or the welfare of her enclave. The fighting scenes are all the more exhilarating because they have an emotional core to back them up: Deuce may have fun fighting, but she doesn’t fight for fun. She’s always defending someone–the children, or her partner, or herself.” —All Consuming Books

Recently, in an interview, I was asked why I chose a post-apocalyptic world for my YA debut. The answer is actually two-fold. First, I wasn’t sure I had the voice to write a beautiful contemporary in the vein of Jennifer Echols, but I wanted, quite desperately, to write a YA. So I decided if I couldn’t do a compelling young protagonist in this world, I’d invent one. Which brings me back to why dystopian?

I’m a child of the eighties, and we saw filmstrips about what would happen if the bomb dropped. Sometimes we had nuclear drills in addition to fire and tornado. When I think about twenty small children huddled under their desks in case the Russians let one fly, well, it’s rather absurd, isn’t it? But that sort of fear shaped my psyche, so that’s definitely a contributing factor. The other reason? Well, I’ll just quote the interview I did with Karen from For What It’s Worth “I think it’s because they’re uplifting. No, seriously. You take a world in utter disarray. Things are incredibly bleak. Then a hero arises, someone who has the desire and drive to succeed, no matter what. And this person changes his or her world in some fashion. How can that message not be incredibly valuable to young adults? I think it lends hope that there can always be brightness, no matter how dark it seems.”

For me, that’s the absolute crux of the matter. People need to believe they can make a difference–that one person standing strong can turn the tide. It’s easier to demonstrate that in the Razorland world, but that example of internal fortitude will serve readers (of all ages) well. I wanted to take a run at telling that kind of story, and I’ll close with Publishers Weekly’s thoughts on the matter:  “In her first young adult novel, Aguirre (the Sirantha Jax series) has created a gritty and highly competent heroine, an equally deadly sidekick/love interest, and a fascinating if unpleasant civilization. This series is likely to hold considerable appeal for fans of The Hunger Games.”

I was thrilled they called Deuce “gritty and highly competent.” Did I succeed entirely with ENCLAVE? Only readers can be the judge of that, and I hope you’ll let me know what you think. What are your favorite dystopian novels and why do you love them?

~Ann

Ann Aguirre | www.annaguirre.com

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