Deuce has been told her whole life that to go topside means instant death. She lives in an enclave called College in the tunnels beneath the ruins of New York, and she's never seen the sun. Her one desire is to prove herself as a Huntress, one who protects the enclave from the Freaks and provides food. But the Freaks are changing, becoming smarter, and those in charge of College refuse to believe it. With her partner, Fade, a wild boy who survived in the tunnels alone as a child, Deuce is sent to the enclave of Nassau, and what they find there changes everything.
Razorland is an excellent, thrilling dystopian adventure story. Ann Aguirre has created a grim, grimy setting for her apocalypse and it's an excellent place to visit for people who like their stories dank and bloodied. Deuce is ass-kicking fantastic. She wields a CLUB, people. A freaking club! True, she does favour her knives and hand-to-hand combat more most of the book, but there's a bit of skull-bashing amongst the fight scenes. And they're good fight scenes too. Grimy and dangerous and often in these nasty black tunnels or trapped in train carriages.
I really enjoyed Deuce as a main character. Her struggle over her role in life, what it means to be a girl in a world where only the strongest survive, was fascinating. Fade, too, is an interesting, layered character, and the romance arc made sense. Sometimes I tire of the supposed "reasons" preventing two characters from falling in love, but there was nothing tiresome about the romance in Razorland.
On the downside, parts of this book feel scrappy, like it has been rushed through the editing phase. The overall pacing is good, but sections seem truncated and certain characters change their behaviours a little too fast. It's a shame to see a book handled with even the smallest amount of roughness, but I will concede that this is an ARC and hope that it gets a little smoothing over before it goes to print.
One more tiny downside: the beginning is a little slow. It took me eighty pages to get into it, but once I did I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Deuce is a very cool MC and fans of Suzanne Collins, whom this book is undoubtedly aimed at, are going to love Razorland for its action and originality.
Razorland is available January 2011 from Feiwel and Friends. I apologise for reviewing this book so long before it comes out! I got hooked into it before I read the date. I promise you it's worth the wait.