Title: Renegade (The Elysium Chronicles, #1)
Author: J. A. Souders
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Release Date: November 13th, 2012
Wow. I honestly don’t know where to start when it comes to Renegade. While I was excited beyond measure to first read the synopsis of this novel, and even later when it’s beautiful (and very relevant) cover released, I found myself dreading the moment it would arrive for me in the mail as, with each passing day, I became convinced that Renegade would be “just another” dystopian novel with insta-love, predictability, and downright flat characters. Well, let me reassure you now: Renegade is not “just another” dystopian novel. Although its premises mirrors that of other utopias, only underwater, Renegade is the rare example of that typical dystopian plot done right and believe me, it is spectacular.
Elysium is an underwater utopia, ruled by a woman who calls herself Mother. Evie, the adopted daughter of Mother, has been hand-picked for her set of perfect genes and is the Daughter of the People, training to become the next Mother. Evie’s life is just about perfect, but her world is turned upside down with the arrival of Gavin, a Surface Dweller. Gavin, unknowingly having found an entrance into Elysium, is held as a prisoner in the underwater utopia Mother built away from the wars, famine, and pain that regales the lives of those living above. Upon interrogating Gavin though, Evie slowly begins to realize that not only is everything Mother said about the Surface false, so is everything else about her life: Evie has been brainwashed time and time again, conditioned only to remember what Mother wants her to remember. With this newfound knowledge, Evie sets out to help Gavin escape, but unknown to them all is that Mother still has plenty of deadly cards up her sleeve…
I really have to hand it to Souders – the woman knows how to write. Renegade opens up by introducing us to the extent of Evie’s brainwashing, even from page one. We can see that Evie thinks the thoughts she’s meant to think and whenever she’s just beginning to break free of that mold, her memories are wiped out. It’s all rather horrifying and the glimpses of the real Evie we get to witness in-between her conditioning only make us admire her resilience, strength, and loyalty. Thus, I really liked Evie; she was everything I look for in a protagonist and her story kept me flipping the pages, frantically needing to know what happened next.
Evie aside, I loved the world Souders had created. Not only is Elysium beautiful, but the world-building surrounding it is richly detailed and complete. Souders slowly peels back the layers surrounding this mysterious realm, from its creation, to the inner workings of its independence from the Surface, to the madness that drives its ruler, Mother, to brainwash the members of her land. Yet, what impressed me most of all was that Souders approached her utopia with a new kind of cunning. In the majority of dystopian novels, we are given a faulty utopian society and eventually, the citizens come to realize this and they rebel. In Renegade, however, Mother knows that her citizens will rebel – which is exactly why she brainwashes them and uses genetic manipulation to get her way. It’s all eerily haunting and remarkably cunning at the same time, making Mother a villain to fear.
Nevertheless, despite my enjoyment of this novel, I did have one slight qualm with Renegade: the romance. I’ve heard the romance in Renegade be called insta-love, but it isn’t. Gavin and Evie meet quite by accident and with time, they become friends. Evie is the only person Gavin can trust in the strange realm he’s found himself in and to Evie, Gavin is the one person who seems to truly know what’s happening and help her remember when her brain resorts back to its conditioning. From the moment these two escape though, their friendship turns into romance and I wasn’t really feeling it. I loved Evie as a character on her own and Gavin is a really nice guy, but I never felt as invested in their love story as I wanted to be, perhaps because Gavin could, at times, be extremely cheesy and almost unrealistically male. I have to admit though that I was overjoyed by the ending of this story, which made me realize that while Gavin and Evie’s romance didn’t do much for me for the duration of the action and fast-paced adventure that graced this tale, I ultimately still did really like them as a couple, even if it was only by the very end.
Frankly speaking, Renegade is a novel I might have skipped over if I hadn’t received an ARC, so I’m warning you all now: this is not a book you want to miss out on. Souders creates a deadly utopia, part dystopian and part psychological thriller, which is bound to keep your eyes glued to the page. Furthermore, her characters are well fleshed-out, her romance is realistic, her world-building is absolutely, and her villain deserves a hearty round of applause for her evil schemes. J.A. Souders is a debut author I will be eagerly watching out for in the future and I am already counting down the days until the sequel to Renegade releases. If the first novel was this could, can you imagine how mind-blowing the next installment will be? ;)
I was given a copy of this book from the publisher on behalf of DAC ARC Tours in exchange for a honest review. Thank You!
I was given a copy of this book from the publisher on behalf of DAC ARC Tours in exchange for a honest review. Thank You!
I've only read a couple reviews on this book but your review definitely convinced me to give this book a go now! Gavie and Evie both sound like AMAZING characters so I can't wait to meet them ;)ReplyDelete
Awesome review, Keertana ♥ So glad you enjoyed it!
Ooooh, singing praises. I've read some negative reviews about Renegade which also points out the romance. Still, I am intrigued with Mother's character as well as the utopian setting. Great review, Keertana ;DReplyDelete
Awesome review! It's too bad about the romance because romance is really important to me in books. But I'm glad to hear that the rest of the story is amazing! I can't wait to read it. :)ReplyDelete
Oh yay! I just signed up for a tour of this one, I'm SO glad to know you enjoyed it Keertana! I can't wait to meet Evie and explore this world, it sounds amazing. It's too bad you weren't quite feeling the romance, but I do like that they are friends before the romance begins, I always enjoy that type of relationship! I'm curious as to what "unrealistically male" means though - my mind is churning with all the implications:)ReplyDelete
I just received this for review and am quite excited about it! I know Giselle was very impressed too but a couple negative reviews have had me lowering my expectations slightly. Hopefully that will work out for the best and I'll still be blown away in the end. Great review, Keertana! :)ReplyDelete
Fabulous review :) ! I'm hearing tons of awesome things about this book. I look forward to read it, I love good villains !!ReplyDelete
I was kind of wavering whether I should request this book or not, but your review has definitely given me that extra push. A lot of books have surprised me this year, and I think Renegade will be another! Wonderful review hun! :)ReplyDelete
Your review has made me so much more excited to read this book! I hadn't really thought about the traditions of dystopian books too much in relation to this, but you're right. There are so many ways that it could have gone wrong. I am glad to hear you don't think that it fell into any of those cliches (except maybe the relationship. I am curious to see how cynical I will be about it :) ). Wonderful review!ReplyDelete
Phew. Now that's a relief. A copy is on its way toward me, somewhere above the Atlantic, I'd guess, and I've agreed to do the blog tour, but I was so afraid I wouldn't like it! I can't WAIT to read it now. I'm glad you said the cover is actually connected to the story, these beautiful covers so rarely are.ReplyDelete
It's too bad the chemistry between Gavin and Evie didn't quite work for you, but with all the other things going for this book, one thing that's not perfect can easly be forgiven.
Thank you for the amazing review, my darling.
See, when you say "part psychological thriller" I get chills. The good, anticipatory kind. I never doubted that this book would be awesome. Once my cover senses start tingling, it's hard to trust my instincts. Which is why I'm so overjoyed that so many peeps are loving this beautiful-looking book. There is a little strain in regards to the romance and the way everyone is perceiving it, but I don't think I'll have that much trouble with it so HURRAH!ReplyDelete
I really liked this one as well. It's actually a pretty fresh take on all the dystopians out there. It's darker than I thought it would be and much more horrifying (which is a GOOD thing, imo) Mother was a great villain and Evie was an awesome protag. Some of the revelations didn't surprise me and others did. And yes, love that cover! Totally relevant to the story.ReplyDelete
I didn't feel completely swept away by the romance either, but I did really like Gavin (I thought he was a good source of comic relief) and I have hopes for the love story in future installments.
Great review! I'm hoping to publish mine next week!
EEEP I'M SO EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK NOW. An actually EVIL villain? PERF <3 If there's going to be an villain in the book, I like the really mean, like really. The underwater "utopian" world sounds absolutely ridiculously awesome! This world definitely sounds like it would stand out from the other dystopians. LOVELY review, Keertana, I'm so glad you loved this one!ReplyDelete
I keep hearing really good things about this book, Keertana and I'm excited to hear that you loved it too! It sounds like I'm in for a treat. I haven't had a good experience with books lately, but I have a very good feeling about this. I'm definitely getting a copy for myself when it's out! You make the book sound so wonderful!ReplyDelete
Thanks for the very convincing review, Keertana! :)
Yeah! I know you don't give out the high ratings lightly. I love a dysopian with good world building and I am so glad that this meets those requirements. I am still waiting to get my ARC but with everything messed up in NY, it might be awhile!ReplyDelete
I was drooling over Renegade long before the cover reveal, but when that stunning piece of art was released to the world, I was DESPERATE for a copy in my bookshelf, regardless whether I'd like it or not. It's just so BEAUTIFUL *sigh*ReplyDelete
BUT KEERTANA. OMG. YOUR REVIEW :o
It's one of the few I've read and.... holy crap, I'm getting welcome tingles up my spine. There's times where I find villains a bit lacking and stereotypical, so I love when one truly manages to tap into that creepy, psychotic vein and give us a character to truly fear. The worldbuilding sounds incredible and while you weren't fully invested in the romance that developed from their friendship, I'm happy that Gavin and Evie were still a likable couple by the end.
AMAZING review, I've missed reading them! Annnnnd I LOVE YOUR NEW BLOG BANNER! <3
I'm so glad you loved it! I have to say, the synopsis did intrigue me, so I'm overjoyed to see that the book totally lives up to it. I love that Souders has created this world so completely and that you can really connect with the MC. Shame about the romance though! Still, at least you did grow to like it. Wonderful review, Keertana! :)ReplyDelete
I feel apprehensive about this book so I'm glad that you loved it so much! It sounds like a really fantastic book with great writing. Love that it's easy to like Evie and she sounds like a strong heroine. Also yes to world building! Fantastic review! <3ReplyDelete
Yeah this wasn't one I had noticed at all. I'm not sure why not, that sure is a gorgeous cover! But now I'm definitely very anxious to read it! It sounds amazing. Its too bad you didn't feel the romance more sooner, but I'm happy that's really the only issue youhad. I can't want to read it!ReplyDelete
WOW KEERTANA! Sold lady, sold. ;) Prior to your spectacular review of this, I personally thought that no YA dystopian book could ever revive my faith in this genre, but you blew my concerns out of the water with your review. I'm definitely going to add this to my TBR list, so thank you. :)ReplyDelete
I read your intro and went straight to Netgalley to request a copy - cross your fingers for me!ReplyDelete
I would have skipped this over as well, so thanks so much for reviewing so wonderfully! I like that Evie is a great character, that the world is well done and that you liked the ending!
I cannot wait to read this. The reviews are pouring in and they are raving. Rich world-building that works? I am so there. You've got me so excited for this one now. I definitely need to grab a copy when it comes out.ReplyDelete
This is the first I've seen off this book, so thanks for engaging my attention to it.ReplyDelete
It sounds really good and I will definitely have to get my hands on a copy.
Shame about the romance really, but lovely review dear!
Oh! I'm so glad you reviewed this one, Keertana. I was so prepared to ignore it! The underwater society and Mother sound completely creepy. I will say, I'm not surprised to see you didn't feel 100% behind the romance...I was admittedly rolling my eyes at the mention of the mysterious boy stranger showing up from another world. I'm not sure if I'll try this one or not, more likely I'll wait and see what the rest of the series is like.ReplyDelete
Wonderful review Keertana. I don't know that this book is for me, I think I'm a little over saturated with dystopians for now. But I'm glad you enjoyed it. Great review. :)ReplyDelete
Oh my, it's chilling to learn what the Mother would do to brainwash her citizens! *gives me shudders* I'm also fascinated by this world created by Souders. Thank you, Keertana!ReplyDelete
You know how I felt about this one but I liked Mother. She was probably my favourite character; I love evil geniuses ;)ReplyDelete
I would probably have just blown past this book without reading your review. Honestly this cover kept making me think of the bachelor rose ceremony, which turned me off. Now I'll definitely be adding it to my TBR! The twist on the classic dystopian, and the underwater setting are definite draws. And I'm fascinated by how Evie has to fight through her brainwashing. The Mother scares me just from your review! I'm glad you reviewed this one.ReplyDelete
I specifically come and drop by to your blog today just to say THANK YOU! Your review worked magic on me and now I have another favourite on my shelf ;)ReplyDelete