Release: November 13, 2012
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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.Review:
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.
Renegade is the first in a new series by debut author J.A. Souders that completely blew me away. An original premise, fast pace, and characters to root for made this one one of my favorite reads of 2013 so far.
Don't let the pretty cover fool you. While the beautiful cover shows the idealistic, underwater utopia that the story is set in, the story itself is slightly grittier and tension filled. I absolutely loved the idea of a group of humans escaping a dystopian future world by building a city under the ocean. Unfortunately, things go a little wonky and this would-be utopia becomes more like an undersea hell with one scary lady in charge. 'Mother' is everything you should want in a villain: a controlled facade covering a seriously disturbed individual, someone unpredictable for the characters to be genuinely scared of, and one seriously creepy lady.
Evelyn is our main character. She is Elysium's "Daughter of the People", a title with duties similar to a princess. She lives under Mother's thumb with no idea of the horrors Mother has inflicted on her throughout her life. Mostly, that's because Mother is controlling Evelyn's memories and wiping them at her convenience. The first time this is shown to the reader at the story's creative opening I was immediately sucked in. As Evelyn's memories return shakily throughout the story we learn more and more about her crazy upbringing and the heartbreaking savagery that she has endured but doesn't even remember.
Enter Gavin, a "surface dweller" from the land above who accidentally winds up stuck underwater in the city of Elysium. Gavin has become one of my favorite YA boys as of late. I loved how he wasn't wimpy and emo at all and really 'went for it' with Evelyn. And bless Evie for never thinking "OMG Does he like me? What does that mean? How do I feel about him?" Instead, the author shows how Evelyn and Gavin's relationship grows stronger as the plot races along. And while there is a little bit of insta-love, I found myself understanding why they grew so close so quickly - running for your lives will do that! Plus, Gavin is hot, so......
I was really surprised and impressed by this debut and I highly recommend giving it a try. The writing is great and the fast paced plot, with a real feeling of the tension that Evelyn and Gavin are facing without any annoying plot devices, moves along nicely. This mesh of dystopia, utopia, and sci-fi will leave readers gasping for air and begging for the sequel.
Recommended for fans of: utopian societies gone haywire, scary as hell mothers, The Lux series by J.L. Armentrout, and the Divergent series by Veronica Roth.