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Renegade (The Elysium Chronicles #1) by J.A. Souders

Renegade (The Elysium Chronicles #1) by J.A. SoudersRenegade (The Elysium Chronicles, #1) by J.A. Souders
Published by Tor Teen on November 13th 2012
Pages: 364
Goodreads
five-stars

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.

I am positively speechless. Early on, Renegade met my highest expectations, and then kept on going. Like most dystopians, Renegade starts out in a similar, almost predictable way. Taking place in the future, I estimate about 2060, we’re introduced to the thriving, underwater city, Elysium. Those in Elysium are the ones who have survived the rampant wars and overall destruction that is said to have occurred on land, more or less due to society’s greed.

So we have this perfect picturesque society. Self-sustaining and peaceful, Elysium appears to be nothing short of Utopia. Once again like most dystopians, this squeaky clean image is ripped to bloody shreds when the real story behind Elysium’s “peace” surfaces. However this is where Renegade breaks free from the usual story mold and forms its own identity. Dark, cruel and quite literally, bloody, Renegade takes evil to the next level. The one thing you learn early on is that this “perfect” Utopian society comes at a price, and the leader more commonly referred to as Mother, decides what or most importantly who will pay.

Manipulative, clever and packing a lot of power, Mother comes across as the ultimate Machiavellian villain in this story. Running on a hefty mix of greed, power-madness and plain madness-madness, Mother will stop at nothing to see her ideal society operating in the strict and concise way that she sees fit. We’re talking relationship restrictions, breeding control and even, brainwashing. And if none of the usual methods work, you can kiss your pretty little head goodbye because you will quite literally will be swimming with the fishes as they say.

Evelyn Winters is the shining star in this gloomy society. Pruned and perfected since a little girl, she’s been trained as “Daughter of the People” a very prestigious position that means she will succeed Mother. Although the people of Elysium see Evelyn as this happy, kind, ditsy girl, there’s so much more about her. Fiercely kind, smart and wonderfully stubborn, Evelyn is Elysium’s savior, although they don’t see or realize it yet. After Gavin a “surface dweller” accidentally enters Elysium and meets Evelyn, a domino effect begins. Evelyn’s eyes begin to open to the horrors she and the rest of Elysium has had to endure under Mother’s ruling iron fist. By trying to rescue Gavin, Evelyn puts herself in harm’s way both physically and mentally. It’s now a race to escape the always watchful eyes of Mother and the cruel vindictive punishment she inflicts.

Renegade was truly eye-popping and jaw-dropping. I never knew what was going to happen next. It was a roller-coaster full of insanity! Although beautifully described with the underwater oceanic views, Elysium is one place I’d never want to visit. In a lot of ways it reminded me of the Umbrella Corporation in Resident Evil. Hidden away underground/underwater a secretive community thrives under the watchful eye of Red Queen/Mother. Appearing safe and secure, one wrong move and all the sudden your entire surrounding is trying to kill you.

I absolutely adored Renegade. I was completely obsessed with it and did not want to put it down. Within the first chapter, I was hooked. If you love twisty stories with plenty of action, danger and sometimes sweet—other times steamy romance, this is definitely the book for you. Exploding with chemistry, Evelyn and Gavin were easily my favorite characters and couple in this book. I am so eager to see where this story goes in book two after Renegade’s shocking cliffhanger.

five-stars