Coming Soon: Vanguard by Ann Aguirre

 [July 25, 2017] Vanguard by Ann Aguirre

Title: Vanguard

Author: Ann Aguirre

Series: Enclave #3

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Release Date: July 25, 2017

The Overview: The Razorland saga continues. Since the war ended, Tegan has dreamed of an epic journey, so when she has the opportunity to sign on as ship’s doctor, she can’t wait. It’s past time to chart her course. Millie Faraday, the kindest girl in the free territories, also yearns to outrun her reputation, and warrior-poet James Morrow would follow Tegan to the ends of the earth. Their company seems set, but fate brings one more to their number. Tegan will battle incredible odds while aiding Szarok, the Uroch vanguard, who has ventured forth to save his people. Szarok is strange and beautiful, like a flower that blooms only in the dark. She shouldn’t allow him close, as such a relationship is both alien and forbidden. But through stormy seas and strange lands, she will become stronger than she ever knew. -Goodreads

Nik’s Notes:

I’m a huge fan of all things Ann Aguirre, and the first three Razorland books were additional shining examples in a long line of great things I’ve read from this author. I really liked where Horde ended things, but am excited to see what she has in store for us next in Vanguard (which is a spinoff of sorts following a different character). This series has a great post-apocalyptic feel, interesting characters, and zombie-like creatures who were creepy af. I may not read this one right away, but I’m definitely still looking forward to it.

What new releases are you excited for?

by Niki Hawkes


Book Review: Horde by Ann Aguirre

HordeTitle: Horde

Author: Ann Aguirre

Series: Razorland #3

Genre: Teen Post-Apocalyptic

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: The horde is coming.

Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time, they’re not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker and Tegan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce from the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn’t run. With her knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade’s love. Ahead, the battle of a lifetime awaits. Freaks are everywhere, attacking settlements, setting up scouts, perimeters, and patrols. There hasn’t been a war like this in centuries, and humans have forgotten how to stand and fight. Unless Deuce can lead them. This time, however, more than the fate of a single enclave or outpost hangs in the balance. This time, Deuce carries the banner for the survival of all humanity.

The Review:

This is the final book in the Razorland trilogy, and I have to say it was a really good series-ender. I was oddly fearful to pick it up and even stalled for a full year because I was worried it wasn’t going to like it. I’m not sure where that irrational fear came from because it’s no secret Aguirre is one of my top authors. Whether it’s a post-apocalyptic zombie story, a science fiction about an alien prison (The Dred Chronicles), or new adult romances (The 2B Trilogy), Aguirre consistently delivers books that I absolutely love with her great writing, amazing characters, and fun storylines. I think my hesitance with Horde was that I couldn’t really see the vision on where the story was headed. In addition, there were a few gruesome (in concept, not detailed in writing) scenes in Outpost that left me a bit sickened and depressed after reading them (I know, I’m a weenie).

Either way, when I finally did read it, I really dug it.

I think horde was just as conceptually disturbing, but I must have been in a much better mood to read it because I devoured it. I also appreciated where Aguirre took the story – finally giving me some answers behind how the “muties” emerged, which also allowed me to finally understand why she was vehemently offended that people referred to them as zombies… an attitude I find a little strange considering she never really describes their origins until the 3rd book. Anyway, it ended up being rather thought-provoking, which I liked.

One of my favorite things about this series was the way the author incorporated all the different humans subcultures in this post-apocalyptic world. She had everything from gangs to religious zealots, and I thought they all added a different wrinkle of perspective to the story. None of it was ironic, and really made the story seem more realistic. I also especially loved Deuce – the main character. She had a lot of conviction, and within all of these different subcultures still managed to adapt and make the best out of each situation (which is why I named her “most adaptable” in my Top Ten Female Characters That Inspire Me! post a few years ago). The Razorland Trilogy might not be my favorite work from Aguirre (which is only a solid 4-stars), but Deuce is easily one of her best characters. I know Aguirre has another series planned for the same world (the first book is called Vanguard, and I think it comes out sometime in early 2017), and I really hope Deuce makes at least a cameo appearance.

Although I really liked Horde, the characters do an awful lot of traveling, which got a bit repetitive. Honestly, I don’t know how else the author could have progressed the plot to where she wanted it to go without all the back and forth, but pacing suffered a little bit. Also, when I think of the word “horde” I think a plethora of creatures too numerous to count… not a group of creatures numbering a couple thousand (:/). So in that regard, the overall story conflict felt a lot more narrowly focused than I thought it was going to. It was still good, mind you, it just didn’t escalate to the level that some other books in the genre have. Arguably though, the logistics for this post-apocalyptic story were a lot more realistic, so I guess there’s your trade-off.

Overall, I’m really glad to have read this series and am excited to see what Aguirre does with it next.

Recommended Reading: I would suggest the Razorland Trilogy to people who love zombie stories and teen books with an edge. Even though I’m not fully on the zombie bandwagon, I think others who are would really enjoy Aguirre’s take on them (even though they’re not technically zombies… close enough to count though).

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes


Book Review: Outpost by Ann Aguirre

OutpostTitle: Outpost

Author: Ann Aguirre

Series: Razorland #2

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

The Overview: Deuce’s whole world has changed. Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight. To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out. Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide.


The Review:

Outpost might be my least favorite Aguirre book so far, and that saddens me because I am incredibly fond of this author. The book just didn’t sing to me like her other works have and I was left feeling depressed and wondering if I even wanted to continue on.

Aguirre has always been good at drawing readers in and making them feel like they are part of the story. In this case – a post-apocalyptic zombie-infested world – being a part of it was honestly the last thing I wanted to do. I had a hollow, sick feeling the whole time I was reading it because there were so many awful things happening. I’ve read plenty of gruesome, gory, and disturbing novels in the past but apparently have never read one written engagingly enough to ruin my day. I’ll grudgingly admit that’s actually a great thing from the author’s standpoint – her writing is nothing if not evoking. Even so, there were actually a couple more concrete reasons why Outpost wasn’t my favorite.

Most of those reasons revolve around story structure and plot decisions. The middle novel in a trilogy is usually where momentum starts to build towards some overall story arc. In Outpost, the story kind of just strolled along, maintaining a fairly narrow focus. Never throughout it did I feel like Aguirre was working towards anything in specific and therefore got kind of bored without anything broader conflicts driving the story (there were many excellent, often emotional narrow conflicts, but I feel as though the story could’ve been much stronger with both). Because the characters didn’t have anything to strive for other than just plain survival, it kind of left me feeling like there was no hope. In the first one, they at least had a brighter future to look forward to, but I missed having even a hint of that here.

If I do read on, it will be for love of the characters. I mentioned in my review of Enclave (and probably every other Aguirre review I’ve done) that this author is a master of profound characters. The main protagonists, Deuce, is a wonderfully complicated character because she’s trying to fit in a world much different from the one she grew up in. Not once did Deuce behave untrue to herself in order to fit the mold of a typical teen heroine, and I thought she was absolutely charming. I’m inclined to compare her to Katniss, but I feel that would do Deuce a disservice – she stands strong on her own and didn’t in any way feel like a knockoff. And her conflicts were compelling – she thought about things so differently than I would that it was completely fascinating. Throughout the story, she remained true to her roots while still managing to grow beyond them and adapt – it was awesome.

I should acknowledge that up until Outpost I had been reading dystopian after dystopian for several months running and was on the verge of getting burnt out in the genre. Let’s face it, they are not exactly what you call “uppers.” Outpost was sort of the last straw, convincing me that I needed to read something else for a while. Even so, I am fairly certain I will pick up the final book, Horde, if for nothing else than my love of the main character… Maybe not for a few months though – I still get depressed just thinking about this book.

Recommended Reading: I would suggest this to people who love zombie stories and teen books with an edge. Even though I’m most definitely not on the zombie bandwagon, I think others who are would really enjoy Aguirre’s take on them.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes