Review: Renegade by J.A. Souders

Renegade by J.A. Souders

Expected Publication: November 13th, 2012 by Tor Teen

Buy this book at: B&N / Amazon / Book Depository

Cover and Synopsis from the Goodreads book page



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.


Rating (out of 5):



I have a serious, serious case of coverlust for this book.  I first saw this cover online in February.  It is so spectacular that I literally drooled over it.  I loved the cover and the little blurb that went with it and I knew I needed to read this book.  Frustratingly, I couldn’t find it available for pre-order anywhere I looked.  So I added it to my to-buy list and then it got pushed to the back of my mind.  Until I saw it pop up on NetGalley and I had a complete fangirl moment of squealing in pleasure and then praying that I would get a copy for review.  When I did, it was another fangirl squeal moment with the intense prayer that this book not disappoint me .  And I am delighted to say that it did not disappoint at all.
“My life is just about perfect.”

This is the story of Evelyn.  She wakes up every morning and goes out to her gardens and plays violin or does her cross stitching until her Maids come fetch her for whatever task she is supposed to do that day.  Yes, her life is just about perfect.  Or so she thinks, but then her memory isn’t exactly very trustworthy.  We learn within the first chapter of this book that something strange is going on with Evelyn and we realize that although we are in her head for this book, we can’t trust what she’s telling us because she can’t trust what she’s telling us.  From the very start you are put off kilter by this book and it just gets more disturbing from there.

“Failure will not be tolerated. The only result of failure is death
-Enforcer Statute 104A.3”

This is quite possibly the most apt description of Mother (the leader of this underwater world) that one could possibly come up with.  She is intent on perfection.  The perfect society, the perfect citizens, the perfect daughter, the perfect world.  And she will go to any lengths to get it.  Her true nature is given to us as a reader very early on, and she just gets more and more twisted the farther you get.  It seemed like every single chapter I was left with my mouth hanging open in shock that she would stoop that low, and then she would stoop even lower the next time.  Mother was an excellent villain for this book.  Just reading her name  now is giving me chills, and I finished the book hours ago.

“Surface Dwellers are dangerous and manipulative, they should be shot on sight.”

Then we meet Gavin, a Surface Dweller, who is taken into custody and Evelyn is charged with questioning him to discover how he came to their underwater world.  She is intrigued with his stories of the surface but struck that they sound so different from what she has always been taught.  He looks so much different than anyone else in her world of Elysium, and he seems genuinely interested in everything she is and does.  They quickly form a bond and as the lies start being uncovered they go on the run together to learn the truth and make a life for themselves without being under Mother’s thumb.  This romance does have a bit of a smack of insta-love but it didn’t feel that way to me.  It felt like two young people who have been thrown together out of a sheer need to survive and form an instant bond that will hopefully keep them alive.  I liked that, it felt genuine to me.  I also LOVE Gavin.  He is everything you could ever want in a YA hero.  He is smart, brave, intelligent, funny, helpful, thoughtful, and throws in a bit of sarcasm to break up the tension.  He accepts Evelyn for who she is and what challenges are presented to be with her, and accepts that he needs to be a man protecting them but also allow Evelyn the opportunity to do her own bit of rescuing too.  He is protective without being controlling.  He is intelligent without being annoying.  And he is confident without being cocky.  Evelyn is the same way and so they are largely the perfect match for each other.  Evelyn is smart and brave too but also very damaged.  She is broken and damaged and that is something a reader can relate to.

If you looked at this book and thought that it sounded like a fun, fancy free, light-hearted book about people who live in the ocean, you might want to keep on looking.  This book starts out dark from the first chapter and it only gets more gritty and disturbing from there.  But that is what made it wonderful and I didn’t want to put this book down.  I read the last 150 pages or so in one sitting because it was so impossible to put it aside.  There were a few minor issues that kept this from being 5 stars.  First I was never really quite sure why Evelyn was so attracted to Gavin.  I knew why I would be attracted to Gavin but Evelyn only seemed to talk about how he looked different than everyone else and she liked it when he touched her.  That seemed shallow when there were so many other things that could have been added to that.  Also at times there was so much going on with the plot that it got a little confusing to keep track of things.  But, if you want a dark and gritty book that will absolutely capture your attention and have you reading late into the night, then I suggest you buy this book.

This book was received from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.  No compensation or promises were exchanged.  All quotes are from an unedited advance copy of the book.



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