I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Renegade by J.A. Souders
Series: The Elysium Chronicles #1
Published by Tor Teen on November 13th 2012
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-fi
Also by this author: Revelations
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.
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.
‘We are all Mother’s children. It is a privilege to show her our ultimate obedience to her laws.’
Evelyn Winters is the Daughter of the People in the underwater world of Elysium. She is a flawless specimen with ideal genes perfectly suited to create flawless children. Mother has worked hard to solidify Evelyn’s perfection and the perfection of all citizens in Elysium. Mother will do anything and everything to make sure this remains so. All is not as it appears in Elysium. Look carefully, beyond the perfection…. and you’ll see the malevolence hidden closely beneath the surface.
‘Greed has poisoned men’s souls. Surface Dwellers have destroyed what was once beautiful and turned it into a ghostly illusion of what they call peace. But down here, we have real peace. There will be no fear, or sickness, hunger, hate, or greed. We have created our Utopia. And it is magnificent.’
Evelyn is told from an early age that her people escaped to Elysium to hide from the evil Surface Dwellers that war with one another but when a Surface Dweller manages to breach Elysium Evelyn can’t help but be intrigued by him. His name is Gavin and with his help Evelyn realizes that the very world she lives in is a complete lie.
An underwater utopia? How. Awesome. I loved the descriptions and details of how everything worked and how people managed to not only survive but to truly thrive and be completely self-sufficient under the sea. I would have loved for it to be explained more in detail in the beginning rather than a conversation between Evelyn and Gavin when he’d ask a question here and there. I believe an introduction in the beginning on the underwater society would have been better.
Very intriguing from the very first page, it’s quite obvious that something is wrong with Evie and it all has to do with Mother. The introduction of Gavin had to be done in order to set in motion the entire story, but I didn’t buy how incredibly easy it was for her to understand and accept that she was being brainwashed. You’d think that for someone that was brainwashed for over almost her entire life wouldn’t just begin having doubts just because someone (that she doesn’t even know) randomly suggests it once. I think if there was more time spent on the overall character building that I wouldn’t have a problem with Evie trusting Gavin immediately or their instant bond which while it wasn’t quite insta-love veered a bit too close for my liking.
‘…I shiver at the sounds surrounding me: Gavin’s gasping breaths. The thunder of my heartbeat. The ripping of flesh. And, making it all worse, the man’s rasping voice as he sings.’
The action is intense and ongoing and it never seems to let up throughout the extent of the book. Towards the end though, the story takes an extremely gruesome turn. Mother was a truly evil villain and one that conducted some particularly shocking experiments in order to secure her perfect society. A textbook villain is one that is willing to do whatever is required to get what she wants, and Mother was definitely prepared to do that. You don’t realize till then end bits just how far she had gone with her experiments and what the end result was.
When I began this story I was under the impression that it was a standalone novel but there were far too many questions that were left unanswered for there not to be a follow-up. I will definitely be reading the follow-up, I’m quite excited to find out how everything is explained and to see where the author takes the story. Despite the few issues I had and the lower rating this was still a highly enjoyable, edge-of-your-seat kind of read that fans of dystopian and sci-fi genres will enjoy.