Title: Renegade (The Elysium Chronicles #1)
Author: J.A. Souders
Release date: November 13, 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Reading level: YA
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.
Renegade was a very highly anticipated book of mine. I had heard such good things about it and the cover really drew me in. While it wasn’t quite as spectacular as I was hoping, I was still very impressed with J.A. Souders debut novel.
Renegade has quite a slow beginning but once you get past that the story is completely unique and so interesting. It took me about 8 chapters (50-60) to start really getting into the story but since it’s such a new world, it did take some time to set up. The underwater world of Elysium was so cool! It sounded so gorgeous and high-tech and just plain awesome. I loved reading about the history (real and fake) of Elysium and with such lush, descriptive writing, I could easily picture it all in my head.
The characters are hard to like at first. Both Gavin and Evelyn are closed off and kind of cold but they have their reasons. Evelyn is in the dark about most of her life. She’s confused and kind of brainwashed. She knows not to trust people who live above ground but for some reason she’s drawn to Gavin and she can’t put up with the idea that her Mother might kill him. She doesn’t seem like it at first but she really is a strong heroine. It just takes some time for her to grow a backbone but once she does she’s fierce. She goes through so much to do what’s right and find out what’s really going on in Elysium. Gavin may be the guy in the relationship (obviously) but surprisingly, his role wasn’t to save Evelyn. Instead, she kind of saved him. Don’t get me wrong, Gavin was clearly a strong guy but he was willing to let Evelyn lead and I loved seeing this very different kind of guy. Then there was Mother. She was one scary woman. Sure, she seemed perfectly innocent at first but her other side showed pretty quickly and it was not nice. She was a great villain!
The romance was a great addition to the story. It wasn’t overly done, it wasn’t really insta-love, and it was just sweet. Gavin and Evelyn were definitely drawn to each other but they had tons of obstacles to overcome before they could even think of being together. It was great to see them face things together and see how their relationship grew from their trials.
Overall, Renegade is a very unique story that I would definitely recommend. I’m not sure if this is going to be a standalone novel but it definitely wraps things up nicely at the end which I loved.