Published: November 13, 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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.
My life is just about perfect…
Creepiest words EVER for the rest of my life!! Holy oceans of freaky fish!! This book was really good and mentally taxing all in one nightmare! I was not expecting to be this drawn into a dystopic YA thriller! But, J.A. Souders grabbed my attention and toyed with my imagination to the point where I just allowed myself to be pulled by the intensity and momentum of this story. The high energy and constant action of Renegade continued to build as the novel progressed. By the end of the book… I was spent!!
In Renegade, we meet Evelyn Winters who is Elysium’s Daughter of the People. She’s being groomed to take over the rule of this underwater world that was built during the Surface War. Elysium is self-sustaining and the people of this community hold one thing sacred. They do not allow ‘surf dwellers’ to enter their perfect community made up of perfect humans. Surface dwellers are looked at as evil and destructive, so when Gavin finds his way from the surface into Evelyn’s garden and is targeted for immediate elimination, she comes to his aid in order to help him escape.
Each chapter commences with a chilling revelation of this underwater world that is controlled by “Mother.” She’s the supreme ruler of Elysium and her sole focus is to control the citizens through any means necessary, including destructive conditioning, cruel elimination of people and bio-manipulation. As Evelyn fights to help Gavin escape, she slowly uncovers the lengths to which “Mother” has gone to control Elysium.
This is a great story… no doubt. It was creative, creepy and captivating. Everything I typically require to rate a book as flawless. However, I did find a few elements that sort of caught my attention and made me consider a few things.
For example, I’m curious how readers will react to the characteristics that are used to describe the “perfect human” in Elysium. Some readers might be put off by the stereotypical “blond hair” and “blue eyes” as being the ideal human, so I wonder if that will create a negative reaction for some. However, I wasn’t put off too much by it because it’s this same group of people that are manipulated and conditioned to act against their will, so the balance between ideal and flawed is somewhat leveled in my opinion.
In addition, I wanted to know more about the world building, including the war that occurred among the “Surface Dwellers.” It didn’t feel post apocalyptic, but at the same time we weren’t given enough information to determine if the world at the surface was destroyed to any capacity, so it left me slightly curious if anything.
More importantly, it did take an ample amount of reality suspension to grasp the concept of an underwater world that’s completely self-sufficient. It was captivating, but rather light on the details as to how that was all developed.
As far as the characters go, I really liked Evelyn’s (Evie) instincts and constant battle to fight her conditioning. As the story progressed and her delicate hold on reality was challenged, I was left at the edge of my seat to see how and if she’d completely fall apart. It was eerie if anything to hear the mental battle going on in Evelyn’s head. Her Mother is one twisted lollipop double dipped in psycho! Talk about the epitome of evil! I feel Gavin was the perfect pair for Evelyn. Where some might feel their immediate attraction and loyalty to each other was rather abrupt, it’s important to consider their dire circumstance and complete reliance on one another to survive. Overall, I sort of bought into their connection for each other, so I was rooting for them the whole way through.
Lastly, I wish Souders would have positioned this book as a stand-alone rather than shelf it with the overwhelmingly large number of trilogies that at this point is simply overwhelming. I was taken on a roller coaster of a ride that left me satisfied with the conclusion. With a few loose ends, I can close this adventure with my own imagination. It was an extremely satisfying dystopic thriller that I’m sure YA readers will highly enjoy! Great book!