Renegade

( 21 )

Overview

J.A. Souders's haunting debut?Renegade 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 ...

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Renegade

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Overview

J.A. Souders's haunting debut—Renegade 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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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Life in underwater Elysium is “just about perfect” for 16-year-old Evelyn, the adopted Daughter of the People, who is being groomed by Mother, the community’s leader, to take over this genetically managed refuge for humanity. Evelyn, like her fellow citizens, has been raised to despise the savage, corrupt Surface Dwellers, but after Surface Dweller Gavin suddenly appears from what’s left of North America, cracks develop in Elysium’s perfection (readers becomes aware of these cracks well before Evelyn does, especially after one of her suitors is murdered in cold blood, and Evelyn remembers nothing afterward). A fervid Romeo-Juliet relationship sparks between Gavin and Evelyn, who tries to outwit Mother in a protracted, violent chase. Debut author Souders addresses antiwar, socioeconomic, and ecological themes in addition to the main issue of adolescent rebellion against crazed authority, but a profusion of coincidences and inconsistencies (Evelyn’s only “true friend” provides critical help on multiple occasions, yet isn’t mentioned until nearly halfway in; nanotechnology and DNA cameras coexist oddly with references to Colt guns and iced soy chai lattes) are jarring. Ages 13–up. Agent: Natalie Fischer Lakosil, Bradford Literary Agency. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
“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

Kirkus Reviews
In yet another grim, dystopian near-future, another pair of star-crossed lovers resists a megalomaniacal overlord. Mother is Governess of Elysium, a society of blond, blue-eyed citizens who live in a small, technologically advanced underwater enclave. Mother is also the adoptive mother of protagonist Evelyn, who tends her garden and looks forward to Coupling with a genetically approved suitor. "My life," she tells readers repeatedly, "is just about perfect." But it's not. In Chapter 1, Timothy, her favorite suitor, is brutally murdered before her eyes for touching her before their coupling has been approved. In Chapter 2, she has forgotten Timothy entirely. This is good, because along comes Gavin, a Surface Dweller who has improbably stumbled into Elysium and to whom she is instantly attracted. Contrivance piles upon contrivance. Evie interrogates Gavin; Evie decides to help Gavin escape; Evie discovers that Mother has been erasing her memories selectively for years. While this last concept is undoubtedly intriguing, Souders buries it in banal dialogue, ludicrously choreographed action and a thoroughly tedious romance. She offers little worldbuilding to compensate, leaving readers almost entirely unmoored (except for the inevitable diary, discovered right when the plot needs it). As the bodies pile up, readers should join Evie in her dawning horror at what Mother has wrought; instead, those who have stuck with her will just be dying to escape. (Dystopian romance. 12-16)
Children's Literature - Sandra Eichelberger
Evelyn Winters wakes up each day and pronounces: "My life is just about perfect." Though she remembers little of her sixteen years, she knows she is special and destined to be the Daughter of the People. Her life is plush and privileged but still there are limitations on her as she gazes out at the ocean surrounding her underwater world. Why does Evelyn's seemingly perfect life require that she see her therapist on a regular basis and what about those tiny memories that keep flashing in her mind, making her wonder what it is that she cannot recall? Is her world the perfect utopia she has been lead to believe? When a Surface Dweller from the land above is discovered trying to hide in her beautiful garden, she is conflicted. Both scared and intrigued by a boy, Gavin Hunter, who she is drawn to and wants to help. Mother, the supreme ruler of this land under the sea, reluctantly lets her daughter interrogate the intruder after they imprison him. Evelyn begins to learn that the world of people on land may not be like the tales of terror and barbarianism that she has been told. Mother is the ultimate manipulator and may have the upper hand when Evelyn sides with Gavin. The book starts a little slow but the action is ratcheted up once Evelyn decides to defy her Mother and assist Gavin in escaping. The twists and turns due to the mind control and the secrets of who Evelyn really is, make for greater danger despite Evelyn's intentions. Mother is especially horrific, making one's skin crawl. The ending is increasingly intense as Evelyn struggles with her conditioning and her love for Gavin. It is the insidiousness of Mother's control that is sickening and also riveting. It raises the book up a notch and teens will devour the story. Reviewer: Sandra Eichelberger
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Evelyn Winters's life is just about perfect-or so she's been brainwashed to believe. As Daughter of the People of Elysium, an underwater utopia, she seemingly lives a life of luxury. The Leader of the People, her Mother, is training her to take over one day and manage the isolated community. When Gavin, a Surface Dweller, infiltrates Elysium, everything Evie's ever been taught begins to unravel. Her memories can't be right. Her life, her Law, her world, isn't perfect. Scores of people who have created "problems" are simply killed-and Mother is behind it all. Evie has to escape. Renegade is a creepier, underwater version of the Society in Ally Condie's Matched (Dutton, 2010). Souders creates an unsettling tone with the repetition of Evie's rote internal dialogue. First in a trilogy, Renegade is another dark and exciting YA novel about how striving for perfection leads to murder and manipulation. The love story between Gavin and Evie is lackluster, but the action mostly makes up for it. A solid recommendation for fans of dystopian fiction.—Emily Chornomaz, Camden County Library System, NJ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765332455
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 11/13/2012
  • Series: Elysium Chronicles Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,453,416
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL690L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.32 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

Sacrifices must be made for the greater good.

—CITIZEN’S SOCIAL CODE, VOLUME VI

My life is just about perfect.

Every morning Mother has the Maids wake me at precisely ten. Then it’s time for a light breakfast followed by a mandatory visit with my Therapist. It’s nice to have someone to talk with.

After, I am free to do as I wish until it’s time to perform one of the duties Mother has requested of me. This morning I sit in my garden, quietly doing my cross-stitching. The garden is so peaceful in the morning, especially when the sea life outside the glass dome passes by.

The Surface could never compare. Not that I’ve ever seen the Surface. It is forbidden, even for me.

Which is fine. My life is just about perfect.

The scent of roses, gardenias, lilies, and countless other flowers fill the air. Compared to the rest of the facility, the sunlamps make the air here feel sultry. Between that and the continual buzzing from the bees pollinating my lovely flowers, I often find myself falling asleep. The wind chimes my friend Timothy made for me tinkle in the current from the oxygen recyclers.

Timothy is from Sector Three. His father is a metal worker and his mother a child-care worker, but he’s been allowed residence in Sector Two because of his status as my favored Suitor. Due to his genetics he’s been chosen as a potential match for me. It will ensure only the best are born in Elysium.

Of the three Suitors chosen for me, I like him the best. He is the most understanding of my … eccentricities. A warm feeling tingles in my stomach and I press a hand to it and smile. Yes, Timothy is my favorite.

A butterfly flits in front of me, distracting me from my thoughts, and lands in the blueberry shrubs, which are filled with the white blossoms of spring. I love that spring has come, and with it longer days, and that summer is just a few months away. My garden will be even warmer and the lights will be on even longer, allowing more free time to play among my flowers.

Music plays in the background. A soft, enchanting number that relaxes the mind and spirit.

There are Guards stationed around the room, but they don’t bother me. They’re just a fact of life. The cost of peace.

With that thought, I decide to take a walk in my gardens. My fingers fiddle with the pleats in the skirt of my dress. I cross over the concrete paths that separate the plantings in wheel-spoke fashion, leading from a path that rings the outer wall of the garden to the pond, which is dead center.

My life is just about perfect.

I’m drawn to the roses—besides my violin, they are my most prized possession—as if their scent has literally pulled me to them. They remind me of something—a fragrance that rests at the far edge of my memory. It’s too elusive to remember, but not enough to forget completely. My fingers brush the rose pendant resting in the dent of my collarbone.

It is the one thing Mother has allowed me to keep from my childhood, before she adopted me and named me Daughter of the People. Though if she knew what I use the necklace for, I am fairly certain it would disappear.

I stare at the roses for another moment. I can’t resist—just a touch. It is what I walk these gardens for.

Mindful of the thorns, I pluck a rose from the bush and bring it to my nose. I inhale its heady scent and hope it, along with the pendant, will bring forth my memory.

The pendant to recover what is lost. The fragrances to fill the empty spaces.

A vision of a woman and a much younger version of myself forms in my mind.

My breath comes fast through my teeth as the pain starts to bloom in my brain—and then a sharp stab in my finger pulls me back into the present. I glance down to see blood welling on the tip of my forefinger. A rose lies on the ground a few centimeters from my feet. I stare at it, wondering how it ended up there.

“Evie,” Timothy says from beside me. When did he get here? “Are you all right? Here, let me help you.” He pulls a first-aid kit from one of the metal beams that frame the windows, separating my gardens from the Atlantic, and then bandages my finger. His grin lights up his face as he looks down at me.

“There you go. All set.” He pats my hand and I’m overwhelmed with conflicting emotions. Part of me wants to yank my hand away, while the other part relishes the warm tingle of his hand softly melting into mine. The latter is a comfortable feeling—not new. Not as if it were the first time.

“Wouldn’t want you to get sick now,” he continues.

“No,” I say, trying to remember why his touch is so familiar. “Wouldn’t want that.” A breeze from the recyclers blows by and I catch a whiff of Timothy’s scent. Memories roll under a deep fog in my head, but nothing is clear. I can’t even remember what I’ve been doing. Wasn’t I … somewhere else?

“Are you all right?” he asks. His blue eyes fill with worry as he watches me.

I nod. “My life is just about perfect.”

He smiles, but there’s sadness in his eyes. “Good. I’m glad. I was worried”—he glances to the Guards—“you were sick or something, the way you were staring off into space.”

“How are your parents?” I ask, more from politeness than out of an actual interest. Although guilt tickles at me because I know I should care—that something changed between us, not too long ago, but I can’t remember what.

Timothy frowns. “I don’t know. They didn’t come for our traditional Sunday dinner yesterday and they haven’t been answering any of my messages, which is strange because Mom was waiting for me to tell her what your”—he stops with a glance to me, then sighs and continues—“how you’re doing. I plan on going over to Three today to check on them.”

“I see. Well, if you require assistance, please don’t hesitate to ask.” How nice of his mother to ask about me.

“I will. Thank you,” he says.

We both realize at the same moment that he is still touching me. My eyes meet his quickly, heat spreading from my toes to my face. This isn’t the first time, I think again. My heart beats furiously and I’m gasping for breath. Because touching him is impossible. I would remember if we touched. Unless …

I drop his hand quickly, and we jump apart from each other, glancing around to make sure we weren’t noticed. We are not Coupled, and skin-to-skin touching is strictly forbidden.

He glances around, as I had just done, but then to my surprise, he pulls something out of his pocket and holds it out. “I found this for you,” he whispers, leaning close.

I keep my hands where they are, but knit my brows together, trying to see what it is.

“It’s for your”—he glances around again—“collection.”

Immediately I get a buzz and shove my hand out, eagerly awaiting the possible Surface object. He drops a silver-colored metal disc into my palm. And I study it carefully. It has strange markings on it. A picture of a head on one side, and some kind of … creature on the back.

“‘In God We Trust,’” I read. I look up at Timothy. “What do you think it means?”

He shrugs, but I’m too excited to care. I’ve never seen anything like this before and I can’t wait to study it closer, but here’s not the place. I’ll have to ask Mother later. When Timothy isn’t around. Mother is indulgent of my curiosity about the Surface, but I doubt that tolerance would be extended to Timothy. I shove it into the pocket of my dress as Timothy bends to pick up the rose from the ground. Carefully he removes the thorns and hands it back.

“For you, Miss Evelyn.” His smile now is shy. My face still burns from the memory of his touch, and I lift the rose to my face to hide it.

The rose’s heady scent triggers some memory in the back of my mind. But before I can think on it further, Timothy wanders over to the small pond a few meters in front of us.

The blue glimmers under the lights like tiny diamonds floating on the glasslike surface. Unlike in Sector Four—the Agricultural Sector—this water is fresh instead of reclaimed, and pumped directly from the desalination tanks. It’s filled with lily pads and other water flowers.

I follow him. He points to a bluish flower with oval-shaped petals resting on top. “Will you tell me what this one is again?”

I smile. He always knows how to make me feel better. “It’s an Egyptian Lily. We use it in many of our medicines. It is used as a sedative, but it is also an aphrodisiac.”

The rose slips from my fingers.

*   *   *

Today is Request Day. I have many responsibilities as Daughter of the People, but this is my favorite one. It’s also the most important of my many duties. It shows Mother trusts me. I am the Citizens’ voice, and they look up to me to make sure they have everything they need and want.

Elysium is a family, and it’s important that the heads of that family listen to its members, so that all may be happy.

Mother allows me to host the requests wherever I like, but I prefer to use what I’ve called the Request Room. It’s fairly large with one wall-sized window in the back, and pink marble walls and ceiling. In the front are two doors. One is the door Citizens will enter from. The other is where they exit, unless they need to see Mother. In that case, they’ll use the door to the left of my chair—which is in the center of the room—to take them to Mother’s receiving room.

I settle myself into the chair, crossing my legs at the ankle, like Mother has taught me, before straightening my favorite silk skirt so it covers my knees. It’s a little short, but the blue brings out the color of my eyes, and Mother usually lets me get away with it.

I glance at the Citizens standing behind the velvet ropes before nodding to one of the two Guards next to me that I am ready to start. The line is short today, thank Mother. As much as I enjoy my duties, it can get quite overwhelming.

The first Citizen who steps forward is slightly older than my own sixteen years. He twists his hands together as he walks toward me, and there’s a slight shake to his legs when he kneels in front of me and bows his head.

When he only continues to kneel without looking up, I realize this is his first time here and he is nervous.

“Speak, Citizen. What is your request?”

He glances up, and while his hands still shake, his eyes aren’t as wide as they were before. “I wish to request a Coupling License, Miss Evelyn.”

My smile grows. This is why Request Day is my favorite. “And who is the lucky girl?”

He waves a hand and a girl my age rushes to his side. She’s careful not to touch him, but kneels next to him and bows her head. “I’m Alice, Miss Evelyn.”

I signal for the Guard to get me my Slate. “What is your current designation?”

“Child-care worker.”

I take the Slate from the Guard and place my hand over the glass screen, waiting for the computer to read my print and boot to the main screen. “So you’ve already been approved for breeding?”

“Yes, Miss Evelyn,” she says, and then places her hand on the screen when I hold it out to her.

I take a few minutes to study her file and nod approvingly at what I read. She is an excellent candidate for breeding.

After verifying the man’s file, I approve them for coupling on a contingency basis, pending genetic testing, and send them to the Medical Sector. They have two weeks from today to complete the necessary testing before they’ll have to report to Mother—she has the final say on whether or not they’ll couple.

I can see they’re nervous, but from what I can tell from their records, they don’t need to worry. Mother should happily grant them their final approval.

The next few people pass through without incident, asking for the typical things: a request for Mother to visit a newborn child for her blessing. A larger stipend and quarters for the soon-to-be parents of twins. I make a note in Mother’s calendar to set up a celebration for when the children will be born. Twins are such a rare occurrence, I’m sure she’ll want to do something. There’s even a sweet request from the parents of a little girl who wants to see my gardens.

All will have to be approved by Mother, but I have no doubts she’ll approve. Especially the request from the little girl. Mother enjoys my humanitarian efforts.

But my mouth is dry from all the talking. I would really like to have a drink, but I still have Citizens to attend to. I know if I ask my Guard to get a drink for me, he’ll go, but it’s not exactly his job to get me a drink and it doesn’t feel right to ask him. I’ll just wait until I’m done.

When the sixth person in line approaches me, I smile and ask him what his request is. His hands tremble, but he bows his head and says in a shaky whisper, “I want to know what happened to my wife.”

“Excuse me?” I ask, sure I didn’t hear him correctly.

“I want to know what happened to my wife.” He looks up with bloodshot eyes. “She wasn’t home when I got back from working yesterday. I’ve looked for her everywhere.”

“Name?” I ask, my hand hovering over my slate.

“Renee Davis.”

I skim the Citizen Roster, confused. “Can you spell that for me?” I ask. He does, but my Slate still shows no one by that name. I purse my lips as he continues to watch me with pain and hope mingling in his eyes. “I can’t seem to locate anyone by that name,” I say.

From the corner of my eye, I see an Enforcer step out of the shadows, and I have to stop the shudder that threatens every time I see one. Like all Enforcers, she’s wearing the customary black dress with pleated skirt that stops just above her knee. The tops of her black boots are hidden underneath the skirt. Her black gloves go all the way to the middle of her biceps and she’s wearing a hooded cape that covers all other exposed areas of skin. I’ve always found it strange that Enforcers would wear dresses, but Mother believes that no matter their duties, ladies should dress like ladies.

The Enforcer pushes her hood back, revealing the blank face they’ve all perfected. She’s the one known as Veronica. All Enforcers make me nervous, but this one is the worst of them all.

I tense, my heart beating faster. I find myself wanting to run as far away from her as I can. And it’s not just me. The handful of Citizens still in line have stopped talking and fidgeting. They hold their collective breath and step farther away from me. It’s as silent as a tomb now.

However, the moment passes and the Enforcer makes no other move, staying silent and vigilant just this side of the shadows. The icy tension in the room will just have to be dealt with. The Citizens look to me as an example of how to behave, so I must swallow my unease. I take a deep, calming breath and force a smile.

“As I was saying”—I shoot one more glance at the Enforcer—“place your hand on my Slate. Perhaps there was some sort of bookkeeping mistake.”

He drags his gaze from the Enforcer, then nods and places his hand on the glass. When it beeps, I look at the information and frown. His file states that he is Single, never been Coupled. There had been a Courting Application filed late last year, but the woman in question, a Renee Davis, had died from unknown causes during the testing process. It’s a pity Mother’s genetic matching program still can’t prevent such anomalies from happening. This Renee was clearly too weak for breeding.

My heart breaks when I realize what’s happening. I wish Mother was here to help me, but she is not. I decide to break the news to him gently.

“I’m sorry,” I say quietly, “but, according to her file, she died last year. I’m very sorry for your loss.”

Feet shuffle behind the man and someone coughs as the man stares at me with a confused expression. The Citizens mutter among themselves and a few have angry expressions. How inappropriate, I think. This is not his fault; his broken heart is confusing his mind.

“I will have order!” I say, and immediately the room quiets again. The angry ones glance toward the Enforcer before lowering their gazes to the floor.

“That’s not true,” the man in front of me says, so softly I almost can’t hear him. “She was with me yesterday morning. We had breakfast in the Square. As we do every morning.”

“I’m sorry, Citizen.”

He looks up at me again, his eyes flashing with anger. “She’s not dead. Your Slate is wrong.”

The Enforcer advances, and the room becomes quiet again as chills race up and down my spine.

“Mother handles the death certificates—”

“Then Mother is wrong!” the man says, and steps forward, tears streaming down his cheeks.

“Hold your tongue, Citizen!” I shout, but immediately I regret it. The Daughter of the People must never lose her calm.

The Enforcer is watching me closely, obviously waiting to see how I handle the situation, and I can’t help but feel I’m not measuring up to whatever she expects from me. And that she’s delighting in that fact. That makes me more nervous than I want to admit, and I swallow the lump in my throat.

I gesture for the man to step closer. “You will have to speak with Mother, then, if that is what you believe.” The Guard moves toward the man, but the Enforcer beats him to it.

When she steps closer, unlike the respectful Citizens, she first meets my eyes before bowing her head. There is no life in those cold blue eyes, or in the unmoving set of her mouth.

“I’ll escort him, Miss. Your Guard is needed here, with you.” Her voice is quiet and breathy, and shouldn’t be any more frightening than the ladybugs in my garden, but it makes my skin crawl. I nod and she grabs the man.

“No,” he whispers, and there is a strange understanding in his eyes, but he doesn’t fight as the young Enforcer pulls him toward the door on my right, then disappears with him.

I glance around, trying to determine if another Enforcer has replaced the one that just left, but it’s useless. I’ll never be able to see her.

The room remains quiet as I rub my arms to remove the chill from my skin. I’ll have to ask Mother later what happened. The Guard next to me leans down. “Are you all right, Miss Evelyn?”

“Yes, I…” I straighten my shoulders and force my hands to rest in my lap. “I’m quite well. Bring me a soy chai latte.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

He turns and is halfway to the door before I remember to say, “Iced.”

“Yes, Miss.”

I focus on the next person in line. “Next?”

*   *   *

Mother and I sip our afternoon tea in her sitting room. We enjoy having tea together. It is really the only time we have to recount our days to each other and just talk. Just us girls. I smile when I see she’s using my favorite tea set: the gold-rimmed china with the large English tea roses on the side. Flowers from my gardens sit on the table between us.

Today, only two Maids are in the room with us, waiting patiently to serve us whatever our hearts desire. Two Guards stand by the door, but they aren’t the same ones that were in the gardens earlier. It is unusual for me not to have the same Guards. I may not know their names, but it is slightly disturbing not to recognize a familiar face. My life revolves around familiarity.

Mother sits across from me, her attention completely focused on her tea. Her wheat blond hair gleams in the light of the overhead crystal chandelier. It amazes me, as it always does, how beautiful she is. She is the epitome of excellent culture and breeding. What every lady should strive to be. What I strive to be.

Today she wears a bloodred dress suit that enhances her small curvy body, but not enough to tempt the men around her. A lady should be like a flower under glass, beautiful yet untouchable.

It’s quiet. Pleasantly so, and I stare over her shoulder to the window behind her. The outside lights make the water a gorgeous blue and a school of colorful fish swims by. Very faintly I can hear the low moaning of a whale.

“Evelyn,” Mother says, tapping her nails on the tabletop to draw my attention back to her. I love the pink marble of the table. It reminds me of my roses.

“Yes, Mother?” I say.

“Do you have your speech prepared for Festival?”

“Yes, Mother. I submitted it to your assistant this morning for your approval.”

She nods and takes another sip of her tea as I spin the metal disc in my hand.

“Mother?”

She looks over at me and lifts an eyebrow. I hold my hand out to her, with the metal disc in the center of it. “Do you know what this is? Ti—” I cut myself off, not wanting to get Timothy into trouble. “I found this. When I was in Three yesterday, checking on the mining. Remember? I don’t know what it is, but it has the most unusual markings on it.” Her beautiful peaches-and-cream face pales, and the dusting of freckles across her nose and cheeks stand out clearly against it. She plucks the disc from my palm and studies it carefully, but I continue. “On this side, it looks like that’s one of the birds from the Surface. And the other has some kind of head on it. Is it from the Surface?”

She nods slowly. “Yes, I’m afraid it is.”

I bite back a smile, trying not to show how excited I am about it. “And the words? ‘In God We Trust.’ What do they mean? What is it, Mother?”

“It is death, Evelyn.” She looks from the disc to me. Her eyes bore into mine; their gray striations standing out against the sapphire blue. “This little disc—they call it a coin—is half responsible for starting every war there has ever been on the Surface. And that saying? It’s the other half. You must never touch this thing again, Evelyn. I won’t have you corrupted by its power.”

Despite her warnings, I’m still curious. How could such a tiny little metal object be responsible for so much destruction?

She narrows her eyes at me and folds her hand over the coin. “This curiosity you have with the Surface is unhealthy, Evelyn. I must insist that it cease. Immediately.”

I sigh, but bow my head. “Yes, Mother.”

“And to make sure of it, I’m going to have your little fountain dredged for any more Surface contraband.”

No! Not my collection!

I look up sharply, but her face is dark and I know better than to argue. “Yes, Mother.”

She watches me for several minutes before she takes another sip of tea.

“By the way, Evelyn, I heard a disturbing rumor this morning as I was taking my morning constitutional.” She lifts the delicate teacup to her mouth, but pauses. “Do you know to which rumor I am referring?”

Rumors are not uncommon among the Maids. If there is ever anything you wish to know, the Maids are sure to know it. They were unusually quiet this morning after my time with Timothy. But this couldn’t be about him. Mother approved of him.

“No, Mother.”

She places her cup in its saucer and purses her lips. They are the same color as her dress. “I’m surprised. Since this rumor mostly revolves around you and a particular Third you’re fond of.”

So this is about Timothy. Though that doesn’t explain what rumor would be so important Mother would concern herself with it, or why she would talk to me about it.

“Still don’t know?” Her eyes are hard and cold.

“No, Mother.” I suppress a shiver. I don’t like that look. It reminds me of one of the sharks that sometimes swims outside my gardens.

“According to the incessant mutterings of the Maids, he touched you this morning. In plain view of the Guards and an Enforcer.”

“Touched me?” I think back to the garden. “Oh, no, Mother. He didn’t touch me. A thorn stuck my finger and he bandaged it for me.” I smile and sip my tea, pleased with myself for remembering. Today is better than yesterday. And yesterday was better than the day before.

“The Guards report this to be true,” she says, her lips still pursed, “but they also say he didn’t let go right away.”

“It was an accident. He asked if I was okay and, when I said yes, we both realized he was still touching me. It won’t happen again.”

Mother’s face turns hard and she nods. “You’re right. It will not happen again. Guards!” She claps her hands with the command, causing me to jump in my seat and slosh tea out of the cup.

My eyes widen when two Guards enter, carrying Timothy between them. His face is bruised and bloody. A black eye is already forming and his slack jaw reveals several teeth are missing. I barely realize when my teacup slips from my limp fingers and shatters on the marble. Two more Guards are suddenly at my side, holding me down.

“What’s happened?”

Mother clicks her tongue. “Evelyn, Evelyn, Evelyn. I thought I taught you better than that. Touching before coupling is an impropriety. Punishable under the law.”

I swallow hard as she continues to stare at me, then close my eyes. She is right. I must resign myself to it. The law is the law, after all. It is what keeps us safe. Keeps us from being like the Surface Dwellers. “Very well, Mother. What is our punishment?”

“Oh, no, my child. You are not being punished. It isn’t your fault. It was he who touched you. He who tried to defile your innocence. His punishment is death.”

My eyes fly open. “What? No! It was an accident. This was my fault, not his! Please, Mother—” I’m cut off when she slaps my face. Hard. Rage tears through me in a sudden jolt, but fades as quickly as it came, leaving only panic. I stare aghast at her as I curl my fingers into my palm.

“You do not talk back to me. Ever.” She straightens the skirt of her dress, then her hair. She makes a gesture with her hand and an Enforcer—Veronica—steps from the shadows. She holds a Colt .45 equipped with a silencer in her gloved hand.

Before I can blink, she pulls the trigger. Once. Twice. Two bullets rip into Timothy’s chest, hitting both lungs. He collapses to his knees as the Enforcer steps back into the shadows. Her face is completely blank—there’s not even a spark of emotion in her eyes—and the Guards let him fall.

The Guards on me have held me tight, but I haven’t even moved; my body is still frozen in shock. When they finally release me, I run straight to Timothy’s side. I don’t care if Mother punishes me. He’s dying and it’s my fault. Because of my carelessness. Because I hadn’t remembered until it was too late.

He gasps for breath and blood pours from his mouth just as quickly as it comes from his wounds.

He looks up and into my eyes. “I’m sorry,” he gasps out before his eyes close. “I thought I would be different. I thought I could”—he coughs, splattering blood across my chest—“save you.”

I try to stop the flow of blood, but it seeps over my hands.

“No,” I whisper. His breath shudders out one last time before his chest becomes still. I turn to Mother. “How could you? I’d chosen him. He’s the one I wanted.” My voice cracks with each word.

Mother walks over and places a hand on my shoulder. I think she’ll say she’s sorry, but instead she says, “Now this is a pity. His genetics were … promising.”

Her words only barely reach my ears. She walks away, her heels clicking on the marble.

A Guard steps over and something cool presses on the skin of my arm. I look over in time to see him inject something into me. Immediately the room spins and I collapse onto Timothy.

No!

His blood warms my cheeks as darkness swoops over me like a shroud.

 

Copyright © 2012 by Jessica Souders

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Sixteen-year-old Evelyn¿s life is just about perfect. She has ev

    Sixteen-year-old Evelyn’s life is just about perfect. She has everything she could ever need in the underwater Utopia known as Elysium. Evelyn is the Daughter of the People, and works alongside Mother, the ruling entity of the underwater kingdom. But lately something feels off. Evie’s had visions of a boy covered in blood. The sound of gunshots echo in her head. And why is she drawn to sector three? When Gavin, a surface dweller, finds his way into Elysium, Mother selects Evelyn to question him. Surface dwellers are dangerous and must be eradicated, but Mother wants to know how he managed to find himself in Elysium. As Evie gets to know him, the truth of her perfect world suddenly begins to drown her. Everything she knows is a lie. Mother is not a loving ruler, looking out for her people, but a mind-controlling tyrant trying to breed the perfect race. Evelyn knows she must rescue Gavin, and to do so she’ll have to pretend like she doesn’t know what is going on, but when you’re dealing with someone like Mother, that is easier said than done.

    Okay, this book was cra-zazy in a good way. If a book can have me screaming “You crazy b***!” at the end of the first chapter, I know it’s going to be good. (For the record, this one did). The first thing that caught my attention about this one was the comparison to the videogame, Bioshock. I am a HUGE fan of those games. The book had enough of the vibe of that world to totally pull me in without being a total carbon copy which made it a double win.

    The action in this book is nonstop. I seriously couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. The world was very rich and I could envision it perfectly. It’s both beautiful and terrifying. The descriptions of the ocean outside the glass walls, the whales and colorful fish swimming by easily put you at ease. And then you find out about the Enforcers — female assassins trained from the age of THREE — lurking in the shadows to keep peace, and the creepy vibe sets in. The writing is fluid and brisk, and perfectly fits the tone of the story.

    As a main character Evie (Evelyn) was interesting. In the beginning I wasn’t sure what to make of her — she definitely isn’t very reliable, but as the truth about her life came out, I felt I connected with her more. I liked Gavin for the most part, although I didn’t find anything in him that really made him stand out amongst other YA heartthrobs. I didn’t dislike him, I just don’t think he was totally outside the norm (which isn’t a bad thing). Mother was the perfect villain. I seriously hated her — like blood-boiling hatred. I was seriously waiting for her to bust out the wire hanger on Evie a few times a la Mommy Dearest.

    This is easily one of my favorite reads of the year.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    WOW LIKE WOW I WAS BLOWN AWAY!!!! Ok at first I didnt kn

    WOW LIKE WOW I WAS BLOWN AWAY!!!! Ok at first I didnt know about this one. I found it repetitive VERY repetitive BUT then we find out why (cant tell its a spoiler) But it was worth the read. We find out that our herioin is the Daughter of the People and that us people who live on the surface (suface dwellers) are the bad guys or so it seems. We also find out that Evies world (Elysium) is UNDER the ocean. |Which gave me the creeps! I don't even like being in the tubes at Sea world let alone live there.| When Gavin Hunter (yes a surface dweller) finds himself in Evies garden she finds herself drawn to him. Her world is ruled by a woman known as Mother whom is a nasty lady! Evie comes to find out with the help of Gavin that she has been put through the process called Conditioning (which is what they use on the enforcers who are supposed to protect their world) (IE. Enforcers start out at age 3 which kinda made me cringe I am a mom) Her memories have been altered and she is having trouble dealing with them flooding back. So knowing that her mother is not going to let Gavin live they attempt to escape..........................................................................................................................................Ok so this book is one of those that it makes a great stand alone but an even better series which it is! (happy girly dance) This is the first book in a new series called Elysium Chronicles. The ending of this book is uncertain but great. (cant give you more without giving it away) I can't wait for the next one and hope that Tor is nice enough to approve me for the next one! AND YOU KNOW WHAT............MY LIFE IS ALMOST PERFECT! LOL READ THE BOOK AND YOU WILL GET IT!
    "*I received a copy of this book for free to review, this in no way influenced my review, all opinions are 100% honest and my own."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2013

    This is such an interesting and great YA that is different from

    This is such an interesting and great YA that is different from the rest. I think this will be a great series! If you are looking for romance, adventure and even thriller, get this book!

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  • Posted December 3, 2013

    Review of Renegade From: Head In The Clouds; A YA Book Review Bl

    Review of Renegade From: Head In The Clouds; A YA Book Review Blog
    Okay straight up warning, this book has insta-love. However the reasoning for the insta-love makes sense to me so I'm okay with it.



    The world of Elysium is an eden located under the sea, which I actually love the idea of but after reading the book I don't think I could survive in a compound under the sea. Can you say claustorphobia? Mother, the governess of Elysium, is responsible for the creation of Elysium and claims it was her idea that sparked the creation of the perfect human specimen. It kind of blew my mind how similar her views and Hitler's views are. Basically Mother is a crazy dictator and like most dictatorships the people who follow her are too scared to question her truths and reasonings. The more I read the more I realized how twisted she was.



    Evelyn, or Evie as she likes to be called, is our MC. She has been brought up by Mother to become the Daughter of the People. At first I feel sorry for her but it's not long into the book that I realize there is no need to pity her, the girl has a badass side hidden deep down. Evie is the one to help Gavin, a dirty "surface dweller", escape from the clutches of Mother. Her plan is pretty ingenious, until it fails. I'm pretty sure Gavin is pissed deep down that the plan didn't work out since it included some hanky panky happening but it's tough times. The rest of the book is spent following Evie and Gavin as they try to find a safe way out of Elysium and the secrets they discover along the way.



    There are these Elite Soldiers called Enforcers. Basically they are Mother's own personal mercenaries. I just want to say I think they are pretty scary but at the same time fascinating. Only girls can be an enforcer and if they are chosen to be one their "training" starts at the young age of 5. I like the idea that only girls are good enough for Enforcer status, it's not often you see that, but hate the idea of child soldiers.


    There is a lot of action and a lot of mystery swirled together in Renegade. Nothing is as it seems and the truth has terrifying components to it. The characters are well developed and while Gavin and Evie find themselves in insta-love I have hopes for their future.



    I have to admit I'm excited for the next book, I'm hoping it will tell us more about the surface. Is it really as bad as Mother says or are the "surface dwellers" the actual good guys?

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  • Posted April 29, 2013

    Loved it! This book was just a powerhouse of adventure and it c

    Loved it! This book was just a powerhouse of adventure and it completely swept me away from the very first page. I loved, loved, loved the characters in this story. Well, except for the bad ones, of course. They were really evil. But Evelyn and Gavin were amazing.

    Evelyn was absolutely brilliant, intelligent, and able to reason her way through the various twists and turns of her story, the obstacles in her path, etc. You really don't expect this from her at the outset because of the way her circumstances started. You think she's a mousy girl with little in the way of original thought, but this isn't her fault, and of course, you discover that there's a lot more to her initial personality than you might have thought. How she is able to climb out of that, peeling back layers of her own personality to reveal such a stunning mind, was amazing.

    Gavin was the perfect foil to her. He's had freedom, had a normal life, and been places that Evelyn thought no longer existed as a civilized world. He is patient with her, gentle and kind. Watching the two interact together, with her discovering emotions and her own personality, was gratifying. Especially considering there's a rift between them that is not of their own making, and they have to figure out a way to surpass it.

    The character of Mother horrid. I hated this woman and wanted her to get her own in the end. I can't really go into much beyond that without ruining the story for us.

    Bottom line, this was an amazing story filled with suspense. After the first couple chapters, where things are being set up, this story was just one big adventurous quest! I was on the edge of my seat for the entire read, right up until the last shocking page. Wow, amazing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2013

    Awesome

    I could not put the book down. The story was unpredictable and exciting. It had everything in one. Romance, action, thriller.... I had goose bumbs at some parts in the story. Mother is definitely one corrupted and manipulative B....Even though the book does not need a second part, it would be great if the story continues. Maybe to have some parts in the Mothers point of view. Scarry!!! Also I would love to know more about Elli and her history. There are still so many mysteries.
    I highly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2013

    Heart-stopping

    This book was a roller coaster ride from the first word to the last! I could NOT put it down!!!! First you will be confused then as everything becomes clear angry. The deeper story behind the story will shock you, a more depraved & backwards place you will never find than Elysium. If you really think about it at the end its very sad in a pathetic way but also truly sad.

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  • Posted January 14, 2013

    Renegade is one of those books that appealed to me from the very

    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. 

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  • Posted January 1, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Evelyn Winters life is just about perfect; at only sixteen she h

    Evelyn Winters life is just about perfect; at only sixteen she has enviable genetics, intellect, and the perfect life -or so she thinks. Taught since age 3 to be Daughter of the People which is the equivalent of a princess soon-to-be queen of an underwater utopia establishment known as Elysium she knows of nothing better. That is until a surface dweller named Gavin Hunter stumbles into her life and upsets the balance of all she thought she knew. Elysium's ruled by "Mother" and her law is all surface dwellers be executed on site but Evelyn can't help to be drawn to him which makes being Daughter of the People that much harder. It also doesn't help that Evelyn keeps remembering things from her past that she seemingly has forgotten. As Evelyn delves into understanding what's happening to her she begins to unravel the dark secrets and mysteries surrounding the Utopian society she lives in - because she starts realizing nothings perfect; not even close.

    I received an ARC of Renegade (The Elysium Chronicles, #1) through Goodreads and I'm so happy I did. Renegade was SO incredibly entertaining and enjoyable! The cover is absolutely stunning, the colors are extremely gorgeous and vibrant. It fits the imaginings of Elysium and Evelyn perfectly. It will hook you from the first two chapters and from there you won't want to stop reading!

    The dystopian world of Elysium is really fascinating with a cruel and strict hierarchy structure that's full of secrets and betrayal. Some elements of this book reminded me of Stephenie Meyers' "The Host", and Scott Westerfield's "The Pretties". It's such a unique story with a lot of great character depth and insane twists. The main characters Evelyn 'Evie', and Gavin are very likeable and interesting - you find yourself compelled to know more about them. What you find out is all kinds of crazy which makes things even more complex and incredibly interesting.

    Another thing I really enjoyed is the romantic aspect of the story; the two characters have to build up to their relationship and don't always see eye to eye. That's refreshing to see in an YA novel because typically so often there's the overused cliché of love at first sight which gets redundant and irritating but not this book; it's very different. It definitely earns a 4.5/5 star* rating. Renegade is gripping, highly intriguing, dark, and deliciously mysterious. Hands down one of the best dystopia novels I've read this year - its got a unique quality to it that other novels lack. It'll fascinate you from beginning to end trying to unravel the shrouded mysteries of each character. I can't wait for its sequel to release if this novel is any indicator of what's to come I just want MORE!

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  • Posted December 29, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    'Renegade' is the first novel in a YA dystopian series that take

    'Renegade' is the first novel in a YA dystopian series that takes place in an underwater utopia called Elysium. The main character of the story - Evelyn Winters - is known as the Daughter of the People - a very high position in her world. She was selected from an early age because of her unique genetic makeup. For her entire life, she has heard stories of the horrors that are happening on the Surface and why they are better off underwater in Elysium. Evelyn never doubts her life until a Surface Dweller named Gavin gain entry into her world and turns everything she thought she knew and believed upside down. Evelyn learns that everything she's ever known has been a lie and that her "Mother" has been brainwashing her and erasing her memories. Will Gavin and Evelyn be able to escape in time or will Mother destroy them all?

    This novel is a fantastic start to a very promising dystopian series. The underwater world that the author creates is intriguing and I loved learning about its history and the history of the world before Elysium was made. The characters were all very easy to like and realistic - and I immediately felt a connection with Evelyn. I found myself rooting for her from the start. The romance between Evelyn and Gavin was interesting and added a different layer to the story, but didn't overshadow the main plot - which I liked. The plot itself was very well written and fast paced, which made it impossible for me to put down until I had finished it. The story was very interesting and a page turner throughout, but really picked up in the last third of the book. That's when I felt that things really got thrilling and there was a ton of great aspects that I hope will get more attention in the upcoming installments. Even though this was a dystopian, there were definitely elements from several other genres incorporated into the book - tons of action, adventure, romance, and mystery - that only served to create an even more enthralling novel. I loved this book and am eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series.

    Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Posted December 13, 2012

    I'm going to start by saying that I am very intimidated about wr

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2012

    Great debut novel

    Great debut novel

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  • Posted November 18, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I¿m just going to be straight with you; Renegade by author J.A.

    I’m just going to be straight with you; Renegade by author J.A. Souders is literally one of the best novels I have read all year. I’ve seen a lot in 2012, the good stories, the bad and the great. I love when I get a novel that is great, but it’s so rare that you get one that is the complete and total package of just about—well… everything! In Renegade you get dystopia, romance, betrayal, badass action scenes and a hunky romantic interest (who I personally liked to imagine as Stephen Amell): Who could ever want more?

    Renegade is the story of sixteen year old Evelyn Winters who is Mother’s daughter (note how that had a capital M). But she isn’t just Mother’s daughter, she’s the Daughter of the People and is considered everybody’s daughter. In the underwater city of Elysium, the last safe haven from the war tarnished Surface and its inhabitants the Surface Dwellers, Mother’s word is law and to disobey her is death. Nobody would question Mother or their perfect world and so it’s kinda ironic that the first person to turn against Mother is Evelyn Winters and it all happens when she’s introduced to a Surface Dweller who goes by the name Gavin.

    When the two come together, Evelyn finds herself not only doubting Mother’s control but straight out breaking the laws and becoming a rebellious teenager renegade (I see what you did there). After finding out that she won’t be able to “couple” with him, Evelyn and Gavin attempt to flee Elysium at any means necessary. That leads readers to follow the two as they not only face death on multiple occasions but also uncover the dark secrets that Elysium holds… ones that Mother has done everything in her power to hide.

    Can I just say that “holy, sweet googlie-mooglie, Batman!” Gavin is officially my new YA character boyfriend? Not only is he described as this drop dead attractive male creature, but he’s romantic and badass and risky and willing to do anything to help Evelyn and— and—well… there would be a lot of ands, but I think he is absolutely perfect. Which makes sense since in Elysium, you have to be perfect, despite him being a Surface Dweller.

    As for our MC (main character, in case you couldn’t figure it out) Evelyn, I personally wasn’t able to get into her character until after her first meeting with Gavin. Beforehand she came off as a ditz and (as you get through the awesome-sauce novel) you soon learn that she’s supposed to seem as such since she had been brainwashed. Dun, dun, DUN! Evelyn first comes off as a Mary Sue and as the novel progresses she soon sheds the Conditioning, Mother used on her and learns about her pass and how to make decisions for herself.

    The antagonist, Mother, had me thinking about one thing. Have you ever seen the show V? Either the one from like the eighties or the one that was rebooted about two years ago? If you have then cool, if you haven’t, then go Google it and read up on Anna. Mother is basically Anna with blonde hair and blue eyes. She’s an antagonist that doesn’t care who dies, who doesn’t care what happens to her daughter, so long as what she cares about remains intact. Mother was a villain that had me sneering and cowering in fear.

    Right from the dramatic start to the cliffhanging end, I absolutely adored Renegade. I cannot wait for the sequel and any novels after that that continue on with Evelyn and Gavin. I want to know what happens next because Evelyn’s story is far from over.

    I’d recommend Renegade to fans of dystopian futures, readers who want to fall in love, and fans of action filled sci-fi.

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  • Posted November 18, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Renegade was a captivating Utopian novel (NOT Dystopian). Utopia

    Renegade was a captivating Utopian novel (NOT Dystopian). Utopian novels exist in worlds that appear to be perfect, when seen from the outside. However, once you delve deeper into the world, you find all of the faults and what really goes on to make the world perfect. Dystopian novels, on the other hand, take place in worlds that are obviously messed up. The characters in Renegade were unique and fleshed out, the plot was complex and intriguing, and the world-building was fantastic. I'd recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for something different to read.

    Evelyn was the first person narrator of this book. Sometimes that worked for me and other times it didn't. You see, Evelyn had memory problems, and sometimes I felt like I couldn't trust her because the poor girl just didn't always know what was going on. However, she seemed honest enough, and she was a likable character. It was extremely interesting seeing Elysium through her point of view... especially considering the memory altering that went on with her character. She, for the most part, was a strong and inspirational character, and I enjoyed getting to know her.

    I didn't feel like I got to know the secondary characters, like Gavin, as well as I would have liked to. As I stated, each character was unique and well-developed, but I just didn't feel like I got to know the full character. That could be because Evelyn was the narrator and she kept forgetting people. I really wish I could have known more about Macie and Nick. Maybe I'll get more information about them and Gavin in the sequel.

    The plot was complicated and at times I felt like it had no direction. Again, this could be due to the memory loss of the narrator, but I felt really confused and like I was just wandering around this story with no end in sight on more than one occasion. That being said, the plot was extremely action packed, suspenseful, and intriguing. I couldn't put this book down, and it was, overall, a quick read. The ending was my absolute favorite. It didn't end on a cliffhanger (thankfully), but there is room for a sequel. I don't want to spoil the ending, but let me just say that you won't be disappointed in it.

    Overall, I'd recommend this book to fans of Dystopian, Utopian, and sci-fi lit. I really enjoyed this book, even though there were a few problems (that I mentioned above). I'm looking forward to the sequel, and I commend Souders for a job well done.

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  • Posted November 13, 2012

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    This was mind blowing. First off let me state this.... the write

    This was mind blowing. First off let me state this.... the writer obviously knows the game Bioshock. (which I love) Anywho, this book was so thrilling to read. How claustophobic it must feel to live underwater in such a secluded area with no where to run and no one to trust. If you cross boundaries you're easily brainwashed or worse killed. Evie and Gavin undergoes such extreme lenghts to the surface. With each step to freedom Evie then has to battle her ownself from trying to kill Gavin. I can't even place words as to how much I enjoyed this novel. I'm a huge fan of Bioshock and seeing some similarites was quite thrilling. If you're up for a scifi/thriller this will be right up your alley. I look forward to see what Souder has in store for us in the future. A+ all the way.

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  • Posted November 13, 2012

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    It's UNDERWATER! I really enjoyed the setting in this novel, it'

    It's UNDERWATER! I really enjoyed the setting in this novel, it's really original, probably the first YA dystopian novel that I've read that takes place in a city underwater and I really liked this idea. Souders surely writes an intriguing and original story that will leave you begging for more, even though the ending is only cliffhanger-ish.

    The Plot: The plot goes smoothly and it's a quick read if you have time to read it in one sitting. The world-building really surprised me since I wasn't expecting to enjoy the city-underwater-thing that much. It totally suits the story and the author really developed the setting really well. The story felt a bit calculated to me since every little things leads to this ending and it was a bit predictable. The insta-love was something I really didn't enjoy, it was a bit too fast and felt unrealistic to me.

    The Characters: Here the things get a bit complicated. I did enjoy the characters but not that much. Evelyn was a strong and determined character but because of certain experiments done on her, it was difficult to characterize her and identify myself with her. Gavin was the typical perfect YA boy but he was just too perfect! It's not realistic that a boy will discover a city underwater, be treated badly by the people there but will trust the girl blindly and fall in love with her in a day. Mother, the villain, was crazy but I guess, I really did enjoyed this aspect. She was simply mad, no better way to describe her, actually.

    Renegade was an enjoyable read and it also brought some original aspects to the young adult genre. It certainly felt a bit too unrealistic and predictable to me but overall, I liked the novel. The ending is very different from the beginning, ending in a very different note. I can't wait to see what Souders will do to these characters and how she will develop the story further.

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  • Posted November 13, 2012

    (Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a re

    (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.

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  • Posted November 13, 2012

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    Renegade The Elysium Chronicles Book One By J.A. Souders Evel

    Renegade
    The Elysium Chronicles Book One
    By J.A. Souders


    Evelyn Winters has been bred to be genetically perfect blonde hair blue eyes; she lives in the perfect underwater city known as Elysium. Evelyn has been adopted by Mother and is in training to become the next Mother, ruler of the city. She never questions anything until one day Gavin Hunter falls off a cliff and ends up in Elysium. Evelyn does her best to tend to the surface dwellers wounds and soon comes to realize that this surface dweller is nothing like what Mother has told the people about. With the realization she soon discovers more to this twisted web of deception that Mother has created.

    What do you get when you cross an undersea city with a crazy dictator? Nothing but trouble according to the author, and I would have to agree. J.A. Souders creates a complex and beautiful society underneath the ocean then she destroys it with a fearsome villain making this a truly fascinating read. As Evelyn is trying to help Gavin escape Evelyn soon begins to unravel from the perfection she appears to be, to something much more complicated. As her “programming” begins to unravel and she starts to remember her past discovering things about her life that had been replaced with memories Mother wanted her to have. With each character and each scene the author brings to life an intense and captivating novel.
    I was sent a free copy of this book for an honest review.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 18, 2012

    Love the ARC

    Kept my interest with all the twists and turns. You thinks everything's going to be fine and then "wham" another twist. Can't wait for the second in the series

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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