When this follow-up to Enclave (2011) begins, trained Huntress Deuce and fellow travelers Fade, Stalker and Tegan have lived two months amid the town of Salvation's affluence, strict gender roles and relative freedom from the putrid, slavering, mindless Freaks who plague their world.
The customs in Salvation are strange and confining to Deuce, a fact continually impressed upon readers by Deuce's accessible but sometimes repetitive narration. Deuce is frustrated by mandatory schooling and by the fact that some townsfolk find armed women a dangerous abomination. After an attack by a group of Freaks whose actions are suspiciously organized and deliberate, Deuce and a group of villagers form an outpost that is Salvation's first defense. War is brutal, and readers see Deuce kill enemies and lose friends as well as defend herself from “forced breeding” at the hands of a brutish fellow soldier. There is, of course, a love triangle, the conventionality of which is almost jarring given Deuce's ignorance of and resistance to romance and traditional roles. One boy insists on “exclusive kissing rights”; the other vows he will keep trying to win her over; Deuce seems to tolerate both sets of attentions.
Overall, an engaging world and forward-moving plot with a resolution that promises new settings and challenges in Book 3. (Science fiction. 12 & up)