Release-Day Review: Vanguard by Ann Aguirre (Razorland #4)


Vanguard by Ann Aguirre // VBC ReviewVanguard (Razorland #4)
Ann Aguirre
Published: July 25, 2017 (Feiwel & Friends)
Purchase at: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Reviewed by: Chelsea

Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars

It’s been several years since I read the original Razorland trilogy, but still when someone brings up Enclave I can’t wait to talk about the fascinating worldbuilding and character arcs Ann Aguirre crafted in this YA post-apocalyptic series. So it’s probably not a shock that I was thrilled to see another book in the same world. While you’ll see Vanguard listed as Razorland #4, it’s truly a companion novel. While reading the trilogy first will enhance your enjoyment of this one, it isn’t really necessary. Aguirre hits the details of the past to catch you up, but keeps her focus on her main characters and their journeys.

Those character journeys are what make Vanguard sing. Tegan was a secondary character in the original series. Now time has passed, and she’s been apprenticing as a healer. The Uroch and the remaining humans are coexisting, but it isn’t a smooth relationship. Szarok acts as the go-between for the Uroch and the humans. He’s on a mission to find a place his people can call home, but the human settlements still aren’t welcoming. The Freaks of the earlier Razorland books look like the Uroch. They were the Uroch until they were awakened. They helped defeat the horde and save everyone, but the divide is still strong. Szarok’s people hate the humans and are continually tempted to go to war to claim back what was theirs. The humans see the faces of people who killed so many of their kind.

If you want to know where this is going, I’ve got you: enemies to lovers.

For those not in the know, enemies to lovers is my absolute favorite romance trope. It’s delightful to see it blossom set against a recovering dystopia. Tegan has zero issues with the Uroch, and is welcoming when Szarok unwittingly becomes a travel companion. He, on the other hand, is constantly concerned that people will treat him poorly and cast judgment when they see him. He avoids speaking his native language, he wears a cloak to cover his head. Tegan doesn’t see the big deal. Over time, Szarok starts to see her bravery and sincerity as something real.

The more time the two spend together, the more clear it is that they are alike. …and the more they try to avoid admitting it. When they finally cave, it’s glorious. First kiss scenes are heady affairs when done correctly, all tension and restraint and, eventually, explosions. You know what makes that even better? When the heroine has to teach the hero the concept of kissing as well as the act. This added layer of “is this right” and “does he/she like this” takes the scene to a whole other level.

I’d say more, but I try to avoid spoilers. Suffice it to say, if you like a hero’s journey tale with a dash of enemies to lovers and kissing scenes that will curl your toes, Vanguard is for you. 

Sexual content: Kissing, references to sex

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