Renegade

Renegade

Book rating: 05 Hardback Elysium Chronicles (Hardcover)

By (author) J. a. Souders

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  • Publisher: Tor Books
  • Format: Hardback | 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 147mm x 216mm x 33mm | 431g
  • Publication date: 23 November 2012
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0765332450
  • ISBN 13: 9780765332455
  • Sales rank: 310,138

Product description

Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has 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 believed that everything is perfect. Her world. Her people. The Law. But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into Elysium's secluded little world, Evelyn comes 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.

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Author information

J.A. SOUDERS is the author of the Elysium Chronicles (including "Renegade" and "Revelations") and lives in the land of sunshine and palm trees with her husband and two children where she spends her time writing about the monsters under the bed, day dreaming about living in an underwater colony, and failing miserably at playing video games.

Customer reviews

By Brenna Staats 14 Jan 2013 5

Renegade is one of those books that appealed to me from the very first minute I heard about it - the cover has a fairy tale/fantasy feel to it, and the synopsis has this sci-fi/dystopia vibe. BRILLIANT. Plus, the whole altered memory aspect really interested me because I find that incredibly fascinating from a psychological/political point of view.

Renegade delivered on all of those points and more - including a few scenes that were so creepy that this book is clearly a psychological thriller as well, and even a little bit of horror. Plus, I wonder if Renegade was inspired a LITTLE bit by the story of The Little Mermaid, which is my FAVOURITE, so bonus points for that.

REASONS TO READ:

1. Fantasy, fairy-tale inspiration:

A girl who lives under the sea who dreams of the surface? Evie isn't a mermaid, but that's part of the core idea behind The Little Mermaid. But by no means is Renegade a retelling; it clearly isn't, but it seems to really take this (great) concept and then expand on it in its own creative way - which is exactly what I love my books to do! But there is very much a fantasy element, with Evie essentially playing the role of a princess in her little underwater utopia.

2. A sci-fi psychological thriller:

Memory alteration/loss is one of the things that scares me most in life. I just can't stand the thought of not remembering what has happened to me. And the way Renegade is written, you can totally feel just how downright creepy it is. Especially when Evie keeps spouting off, "My life is just about perfect." I GET SHIVERS FROM THAT LINE NOW. It's so messed up, but very much a sci-fi/dystopian thing to do.

3. A brave heroine:

Considering the fact that Evie can't really remember much that has happened to her, and she's essentially locked away in her palace, the girl has got major guts. She's inherently curious, and always willing to fight back in any way that she can. And as the story progresses, she just gets tougher and tougher. She comes off a little weak and ditzy at first, but she's totally not. Complete opposite, and it just takes a little while for the real Evie to break through completely.

4. A poignant ending:

I know that Renegade is the first part of a series but... it would work really well as a stand-alone. You can easily read Renegade all on its own, and you'll be left with some questions but the story truly does wrap up. And shatter your heart into a million little fragments. And leave you begging for a sequel. NOW.

There was one big reveal that could have been hidden a little bit better, but it was still a very effective plot. I wish I had been kept in the dark for a little bit longer though, although I noticed when I finished the book that I had a lot of questions about Elysium I hope to have answered in future books.

As well, I was a bit iffy on the romance at first. It felt like they really jumped into things right away, but I could sort of understand why being in such a dangerous and intimate situation. It's hard for me to pinpoint exactly what it was, but I just felt like something was missing. But by the end I was totally sold. #TeamEvie&Gavin

Review copy received from Tor for my honest review; no other compensation was received.

By Andrea Thompson 13 Dec 2012 5

I'm going to start by saying that I am very intimidated about writing this review. Renegade is a book that seems to be a huge hit with fellow bloggers, many of whom have stated their thoughts much better than I likely will. Here's my stab at it...

Renegade epitomizes what dystopian books are all about. You have a "perfect" society led by an all-knowing leader. The citizens of Elysium live by a very specific and demanding standard of law: no touching by those who are "unCoupled", only those who are a good genetic match are allowed to Couple and procreate, citizens are given an occupation/duty to perform as their part of the society. This is a sample of the rules the citizens must live by. Who is their leader? Mother. Mother is the all-knowing, all-powerful leader of Elysium. Backed by her skilled Enforcers, those who question Mother disappear.

Sixteen-year old Evelyn is the Daughter of the People. The young woman Mother is grooming to take her place one day in the future. Evelyn spends her days gardening, listening to the needs of the citizens, playing her harp... her life "is just about perfect". But Evie is plagued with headaches, lost spaces of time, and the shadow of a memory of a boy. A memory that of a feeling, of a touch, the sound of wind chimes, that stays just out of reach. But when a Surface Dweller unwittingly invades the Elysium and is captured, Evie, despite her "training" doesn't believe this boy, Gavin, is her enemy. A niggling feeling about Gavin's character, and close proximity, leads the two into a fast-paced relationship. As they get to know more about one another, and their environments, Evie begins to realize that Mother really doesn't know best.

Besides being a really great example of a dystopian society, Renegade is also an intense psychological thriller. I don't remember where I read this comparison, but someone somewhere compare Renegade to The Bourne series. That's a perfect comparison, in my opinion. You have a heroine who has been manipulated, in multiple ways, into performing and thinking as she's been told. Bit by bit, the layers are peeled back, revealing the depth and horror of the world Evie was brought up in. The truly atrocious lengths Mother will go to in building and maintaining her perfect society. Along the way, Gavin, who is also horrified by Mother's machinations, is there to support Evie. And when I say support, I feel that should be emphasized. Evie is the leader of the duo, the trained assassin, the one who will push through. I loved that at each horrific revelation he experiences with Evie, that he never judges or turns his back on her. Also, the flirtation/evolving relationship between the two is very, very sweet, but never takes the story over.

I truly didn't know what I was going to find in Renegade. I don't love a lot of dystopian books. Renegade truly turned into more than I ever expected, or hoped for. My mind was reeling and I could not put the book down until the very (awesome) end. The ending felt complete, in a way, and left me in a good place. But make no mistake. I want more.

By Pretty Little Reader 14 Nov 2012 4

Deceptively disturbing, Renegade starts off relatively utopianesque, merely hinting at the possibility of darker themes to come. As Evie's memories beging to resurface, and she stumbles upon horrifying truth after horrifying truth, you quickly realize that Renegade is anything but a utopian in the face of Mother's twisted and gruesome plans for Elysium.

"My life is just about perfect."

Evie's motto, on the surface, is seemingly correct. She spends her days gardening or practicing the violin, courting several suitors in the hopes of finding a compatible partner and tending to various tasks handed out by Mother. As the Daughter of the People, she must show the civilians of Elysium, an underwater domed community separated from the dirty and war-stricken Surface Dwellers, how a real lady responds in various stressful situations in order to lead by example. But something's...not right. She begins to notice that the voice in her head telling her how wonderful everything is sounds a lot like Mother, that pieces of her memory are mysteriously absent and the memories that do return in flashes, tell a vastly different story then the one her Mother-sounding conscience would lead her to believe.

The buildup for Evie's repressed memories was fantastic. I literally couldn't put down Renegade for the first half, because I just had to know how Mother was controlling Evie and her memories. As details began to surface, I read on in open-mouthed shock as the extent of Mother's madness became apparent. Conditioning, manipulation, genetic experiments - nothing was off-limits in Mother's quest for a perfectly subordinate society. While I was slightly disturbed by some of the more gruesome scenes,

"The hallway is covered with dead bodies. The floor is sticky with partially dried pools of blood. The walls and even the ceiling are covered in sprays of blood. And it drips from the ceiling like sprinkles of rain."

it was Mother's torture of the psyche that truly unnerved me. The ways in which she manipulated so many people, who remained oblivious to her methods, had me fearful for Evie's life for much of Renegade.

Adding to the depth of Mother's psychological torture was watching Evie realize that she was not spared in Mother's experiments. Evie's gradual mistrust of Mother added so many layers to her already complex characterization, that I couldn't help but empathize with her situation. Literally everything she thought she remembered, everything she had been taught, had been a lie and had been manipulated intentionally by the person she thought she could trust the most. As Renegade's plot progressed, Evie began to realize that thanks to Mother's experiments, she couldn't even trust herself. I got so wrapped up in the psychological elements that I was oblivious to anything else that might have been happening; Souders had me completely and irrevocably wrapped around her devilishly twisted finger.

Renegade's pacing was fantastic, the suspense was at an all-time high for the majority of the plot and everything that happened was logical - it made sense. The only reason Renegade is losing a star is because of the romance. It definitely crossed into insta-love territory, which surprisingly, I was able to overlook because of the extreme situation Evie and Gavin found themselves in. It wasn't hard to imagine that Evie was the most beautiful creature Gavin had ever set eyes on, creating the attraction necessary for him to develop strong feelings. And being so intrinsically tied to her self-realization, Evie's attraction to Gavin also made sense because he was present for the most important moment of her life. But even though I was able to logically make sense of their relationship, I didn't necessarily believe in their feelings for one another. It didn't take away from my reading experience necessarily, but the romance didn't add anything to Renegade for me either. So I was kind of left wondering what the point of it all was.

From it's opening pages, Renegade had me under its spell. I can't remember the last time I was so on-edge while reading a book, or the last time I was so thoroughly creeped out.

By Sarah Elizabeth 13 Nov 2012 5

(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Tor Teen and Netgalley.)
16-year-old Evelyn lives underwater in a place called Elysium, with large glass domes separating her from the Atlantic Ocean. She is the 'daughter of the people' - the adopted daughter of the woman who governs Elysium, known as 'Mother') and her job is to breed, due to her perfect genetics.
She's been sixteen for 3 months already, and she still hasn't picked a suitor to 'couple' with, and her mother is getting impatient.

One day whilst tending to her garden, Evelyn hears alarms going off - it seems that a 'surface dweller' has somehow made it into Elysium.

Evelyn has a fascination with the world on the surface, and likes to collect artefacts from the surface that have made their way into Elysium, so she can't help but try to help the strange boy who has somehow made it through from the surface, and hidden himself in her garden.

Unfortunately, Gavin is caught by the guard and thrown into the detainment centre. Evie cares for him, and tends his wounds, but not without disapproval from her mother and it is only as Evie learns more about Gavin that she also learns more about herself. It seems that 'Mother' has been using a type of 'conditioning' to keep Evie in line, and Evie realises that her problems with her memory are more to do with her sessions with her 'therapist' than with an actual physical/mental problem.

Why does 'Mother' use conditioning? What else does she use it for? What else is she hiding from Evie? What has Evie forgotten? And does Evie stand any chance of saving Gavin from execution?


I loved this book. There was no shortage of action right the way through, and the twists and turns just kept being thrown at Evie and Gavin, so that no matter what plan they tried next or how they hoped to outsmart 'Mother', she foiled them time and time again.

Evie was such a great heroine. She kept fighting for what she believed to be right, no matter how many obstacles stood in her way, and she constantly kept thinking of new plans not only to help herself, but even to benefit the residents of Elysium. She was so selfless, and so genuine, I just couldn't help but love her.

I both loved and hated the way 'Mother' had used 'conditioning', or as Gavin put it - Brainwashing, to train her enforcers and Evelyn. It was so creepy, but effective, and I felt so sorry for Evelyn as she realised that the things that she was saying were not her own ideas, and when it seemed that her 'training' was actually working against her. It was so difficult for her to know what was going on when it seemed that her brain had been programmed to work against her!

The world building within Elysium was well thought out, with such simple but effective ideas that worked so well as a whole. The idea of living underwater was also well thought out, and there were plenty of issues that had been solved scientifically and believably. There was also mention given to certain sicknesses caused by living at such high pressures, and also how these problems had been overcome.

I loved the storyline, there were just so many twists and turns that you had no idea what was coming next, and even when it got a bit 'resident evil' scary at the end I couldn't put it down!
Overall; a beautiful, exciting, and creepy dystopian novel; and I can't wait for the next instalment!
9 out of 10.

Review quote

"Grim, vicious, riveting. "Renegade" is a haunting, unforgettable debut."--Ann Aguirre, national bestselling author of "Enclave""Deliciously creepy and filled with psychological twists, "Renegade" kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page."--Kristen Simmons, author of "Article 5"""Renegade" is a dark tale of deceit, with twists that will keep you turning the pages, and an ending that will have you on the edge of your seat."--Lisa Desrochers, author of "Personal Demons"