Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Renegade by J.A. Souders

From Goodreads:
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.

My Rating: 3 / 5 stars

I've had my eye on this one for a few months. I thought it looked like a cool psychological thriller, dystopian mix with a unique setting (entire underwater city? count me in). It even promises some fairy tale hints (which it delivers - definitely some Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, and Ariel mixed in). And this book was exactly what I expected from it, only it was far more gritty and disturbing than I would have liked.

It was fascinating. Evelyn is being brainwashed and the reader knows it, but she doesn't. It was creepy for her to wake up each day, after her mind had been wiped blank, not remembering the horrifying things or people she'd known just the day before. She thinks her life is "just about perfect" until finally things begin to crack. Okay, maybe there was too much of an instant-connection between her and Gavin, but she needed it to break free of her mind conditioning. He wakes her up and the truth is shocking. The rest of the book is a violent, break-neck speed escape attempt from Elysium.

It was too much action for me. I loved the beginning, all creepy and psychological, and Evelyn's awakening. But as soon as she tries to escape, there is blood everywhere. Mother is killing innocent people (including children) left and right to prevent her perfect genetic creation from escaping. Lots of blood and guts and, *shudder* it made me kind of sick at times. Plus there's no room to breathe. I needed some downtime in the plot, some emotion and character development, but there was none of that. And when Evelyn's trained mind begins to snap and turn against Gavin I just wanted to scream.

This story does not end on a happy, unresolved note. I'm not convinced I'll pick up the sequel because it sounds like it will have the classic sequel phase romance issues, but I may anyway, just in the hopes of getting some kind of resolution.

So, really interesting concept, nothing at all wrong with the writing, so too intense and gory for me.

Content: Plenty of talk about sex (a major plot point is about who Evelyn will couple and conceive a child with), minor swearing, and loads of nasty violence.

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