Renegade by J.A. Souders
Publication Date: November 13th, 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Page Count: 364 pages
Format: Finished Copy
Source: Publisher for review
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* I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review *
Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has been trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s thought that everything was perfect; her world. Her people. The Law.When I first read the premise for Renegade by J.A. Souders I was seriously intrigued. Set in Elysium, a hidden world built beneath the ocean, and filled with secrets and populated by people who used to live on the Surface. The sound of this world just gave me goosebumps. I was immediately drawn into Evelyn's world and I loved the first person narration. Evelyn is an incredibly unreliable narrator, due to the fact that her memories are constantly being meddled with, and the way her story is told is very similar to that of Mara Dyer. Although the plot starts off a bit slow, the ending blew me away and I cannot wait to see what J.A. Souders will come up with next!
But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into their secluded little world, she’s forced to come to a startling realization: everything she knows is a lie.
Her memories have been altered.
Her mind and body aren’t under her own control.
And the person she knows as Mother is a monster.
Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb... and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.
The characters are all very different, and although I didn't really click with any of them, I enjoyed hearing their stories. Evelyn is definitely a strong protagonist, constantly fighting against her mother and having to work through the confusion of having memories erased on an almost daily basis. Her willingness to uncover the secrets of Elysium is admirable and I loved the way she didn't back down to threats. Gavin was okay, he wasn't as swoon-worthy as I like my love interests to be and I felt like he was a little too protective of Evelyn, attempting to control her despite being completely unfamiliar with his surroundings. There are a lot of side characters that are fantastic, and I really loved some of Evelyn's close friends. Even Mother is deliciously evil and I really loved the development of her character as the story progressed.
The world-building is pretty intense. There's a map of Elysium at the beginning of the book which was a nice addition and I could easily relay back to it if I needed a picture to go with a description. Many questions that I had about how certain aspects worked were answered by the end of the book, which was greatly appreciated. I do wish Souders would have given us more description of the Surface, because I felt like I really had no idea what was going on in the outside world. I couldn't really identify the time period either. I assumed it was set in the future, but prior descriptions of the Surface had me thinking it was somewhat desolate, maybe comparable to the world of The Hunger Games or Blood Read Road, but further reading mentioned Gavin playing video games which indicates a more civilized community of people.
Overall, I enjoyed Renegade. I think the ending really amped things up for me, the last 100 pages or so were incredibly intense and a lot of mind-blowing information was thrown my way. I'm hoping the next book will cover a lot of unanswered questions as well as develop the characters a bit more. Renegade is mostly plot-driven, and the biggest issue I had was that the first half of the plot was pretty slow. Once things picked up I couldn't stop reading and I'm really looking forward to the direction everything is moving in. Fans of dystopian and science fiction will definitely enjoy Renegade.