Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Enclave by Ann Aguire

It says "for fans of The Hunger Games" on the cover.

Yeah.  Here's my question: is post-America dystopian strong female lit the new paranormal romance weirdly alluring female lead lit?  Seems like it.  Of the two, I guess I'd have the former.

Everybody seems to be capitalizing (or, more accurately, trying very badly and obviously to capitalize) on the Hunger Games mania.  A bunch of books are popping up about creepy societies and weapon-weilding heroines.  I saw an ad on TV tonight for some post-America survival show, complete with a view of an overgrown Wrigley field and a bow and arrow carrying female.  I mean! The same thing happened with twilight - all of a sudden a zillion paranormal TV shows came zinging out of the ether and into the American TV screen.

That's not to say that this book is just some awful imitator.  It's pretty good.  The freaks were creepy (though I did wonder how they could reasonably be supposed to exist.  I get why, from a narrative standpoint, we don't know - but from a sheer "how could this be" standpoint, I'm mystified.).  I liked that the main girl was a little indoctrinated by her "enclave" or whatever.  It was fine.  I'll read the next one.

I just didn't adore it.  I don't know quite why.  I think something just felt forced.  When people create these alternate worlds and don't name things well I find it hard to enjoy myself. It's one of my big pet peeves, actually.  Slang that sounds awkward, stuff like that.  That's one of the things I felt the Hunger Games lady did well - none of the names she came up with for new creatures or people or whatever felt unlikely.  "Tributes" for the competitors - makes sense because the districts are, as in the olden days, paying tribute to their captors.  People have had to do that for a long time.  There's some kind of historical precedent for the term, and, consequently, it works.

CONCLUSION: This book shouldn't need to be marketed to Hunger Games fans as a book for Hunger Games fans, something for them to while away their time with until the next movie comes out.  If you're going to write a book that fits into a hot current genre, it needs to be more than ordinarily exceptional.  You have to be able to prove that you're not just capitalizing on the popularity that style has at the moment.  You have to prove that, if there wasn't this new public demand for Hunger Games type lit, your book could still be published and survive - in a way just like the lethal females that litter its pages - all on its own.