Renegade by J.A. Souders

RenegadeRenegade by J.A. Souders
Series: The Elysium Chronicles #1
Published by: Tor Teen on November 13, 2012
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 352
Source: NetGalley
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★★★★

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.

Holy smokes! Renegade was a whirlwind of lies, deceit, assassinations, and forbidden love! I barely even know where to begin!

The world of Elysium is awesome. Pure awesome. I adored reading about this incredible environment and I could picture it so easily! I wanted to crawl into the story and live in this gorgeous world (minus the corruption and lies, of course! :D). And the technology in Renegade was fascinating! The way Elysium even exists was so much fun to learn about. It’s some sort of underwater ‘paradise’ but it’s fully self-sufficient and it’s packed with all kinds of holographic technologies, new weaponry, high-tech DNA-based security systems, and more!

Overall, this book was a lot darker than I expected. It’s clear in the summary that something isn’t quite right in Elysium and that Mother is a crazy, controlling monster. But Renegade is full of brutal murders, horrifying violence, and a scary abuse of technology and science. I loved seeing the mystery and the lies unfold. Mother was a brilliantly scary villain and the great thing about her is that her problems seem to run deeper than just being pure evil. I definitely got some kind of “mentally psychotic” vibe from her.

Renegade by J.A. Souders - Elysium..or is it?

I think the romance was the one negative point for me in the story. When you think about it, Evelyn and Gavin only knew each other for a few days, since that’s essentially the span of the book. In the moment, the build-up of the romance did feel a bit slower than typical insta-love since there’s crushing, blushing, sexual tension, uncertainty, and all that jazz (instead of pure immediate love)! It wasn’t done perfectly, but it was done well enough that my heart was racing and I was drooling over all the sexual tension! But towards the end when the love declarations came pouring in, I started to get more and more detached from the romance. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly bothered me so much about it. Maybe it’s a combination of the fast pace and the fact that the two characters just didn’t fully click with me. But even so, there were several funny moments with the romance that had me laughing out loud!

“Don’t worry,” I say. “I am well versed in this. I won’t disappoint you.”
Now he seems even more confused. His whole face is scrunched up. “Well-versed? You mean they teach you how to…?”
“Of course. Pleasure ensures coupling, and coupling ensures the continuation of our people. We learn everything we need to know,” I reassure him.
“Great,” he mutters. “That’s more than I needed to know.”

“Then what’s wrong?”
It’s quiet for so long I chance a peek down at him. He’s keeping his eyes fixed on the wall behind the ladder and reaching blindly for the next rung.
“I can see up your dress, okay? It’s…distracting.”

Gavin flashes me a grin. “So, you going to show me what’s under your dress?” he asks with a look toward my chest.
Huh? “Under my…Oh!” I laugh when I realize he felt the data cube in my bra.

But to be honest, I think I just had a hard time understanding why Gavin loved Evelyn so much. She kind of seemed like more trouble than she was worth. She was an okay character, but nothing really amazing about her stood out to me. Gavin could have had a much easier time escaping Elysium if he ditched Evelyn (and she tried to encourage him to do just that several times), but since he was so in love with her, he stood by her. I just never clicked onto where that love was coming from. What’s so amazing about her? Why does he love her so much?

But overall, Souders’ prose is beautiful and she masterfully created this world of Elysium. The world building is phenomenal and the writing will really suck you in! I love how Souders handled Evelyn’s problems with memory loss. The information is presented to us in a unique way because sometimes we’re aware of the memories that Evelyn has forgotten, but at other times we’re struggling along with Evelyn to try to figure them out.

Souders also set the stage for a second book! There’s still a lot to learn about the outside world and I can’t wait to see what happens! I’d love to learn more about the war and devastation that ripped apart the outside world. We get bits and pieces of it in Renegade, but there’s still a lot more to know!

The Verdict


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  1. Oh, sounds delicious. : ) I’ve had this on my TBR for so long, I’d forgotten what it was about but my interest is reaffirmed. Why does romance have to find it’s way into all these otherwise awesome stories? For once, I want an action-y dystopian where a boy (or girl, for a male POV) doesn’t take center stage. *sigh* Ah well, maybe one day.

    Great review! I’ll have to get my hands on a copy soon.

    – Jessie Marie from The Daily Bookmark

    Jessie Marie recently posted: One Year Blogoversary! + Giveaway!
  2. I just got this one in the mail yesterday and I am so excited to read it! I’ve heard so many awesome things about it. Great review!!

    1. I totally agree with you Jen! All these emotional, intense books are spoiling me.. now if I read a book with anything less than a mind-blowing romance, I just feel disappointed. UGH!

    1. I know, right?? Honestly, when I first read about Renegade I was imagining some kind of fantasy, utopian underworld story.. but this reads like a 100% possible violent sci-fi instead! Not what I was expecting at all, but kind of awesome in a different way!

  3. The world-building sounds amazing <3 I can't wait to dive into this story and see all these technologies myself. It's a shame that the romance isn't amazing, but I can totally overlook that. And I think I can understand why Gavin loved her so much. Sometimes, we have this feeling for a person. I don't think someone can explain why, it's just a special feeling we get πŸ™‚

    Mel - Thedailyprophe recently posted: Review 79. Julie Kagawa – The lost prince.
    1. Good point about the romance. πŸ™‚ I guess sometimes you just have a special connection that you can’t even explain!

  4. I completely agree with your review! I just finished this recently, and while I enjoyed it and appreciated the world-building, the romance was completely lost on me. Because of it, I felt quite detached from the characters at times too. Still, I look forward to the next book. πŸ™‚

    1. I’m glad we agree Sam! I do wish I could have enjoyed the romance more.. if so, it would have been a really solid book. But I’m still looking forward to book 2 as well! It left off in an interesting place and I can’t wait to see where the story goes next. πŸ™‚

  5. I wasn’t planning on getting this book but after reading so many great reviews (yours included, Ashley), I think I’ll have to reconsider. I think I’ll be fascinated by the world building. And I love the teasers that you’re offering! πŸ™‚

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