YA Review: Renegade by J.A. Souders


We start of meeting Evie, who lives in an underwater utopia called Elysium, which controlled by a iron-fist ruler named Mother. Her life is perfect as Daughter of the People until one day, a cute boy named Gavin wanders into their city. Evie is tasked with interrogating him, but soon enough, she finds herself falling for him and questioning the so-called “truths” in her life. Sort of a stereotypical plot, I know, but Renegade’s pluses are in that it’s MC is sorta kinda psycho, and that makes it interesting to read. Before we start, first are foremost, I have to warn you that Renegade (Elysium Chronicles #1) sort of ran like a movie from the Resident Evil series. There is an entirely perfect heroine who kicks-ass, a love interest (because you know, how else could this be interesting), a deluded sense of reality, and a sprinkling of weirdo boss-lvl monsters.

352 pages | Tor Teen | November 2012

So, let’s go!

The book starts off great. The brainwashing was a very nicely done. In fact, I felt so giddy during the first few chapters that I read some paragraphs twice just to compare scene. Nicely done, Souders, nicely done! I loved the idea that the readers are more privvy to the MC’s problems than the MC herself. You can just see the differences in the MC’s thoughts and actions, and you can easily catch the differences as each scene plays out.

I honestly thought that Souders was going to overdo it, but it was perfect. Spot on.

And hey, you know what? I liked Mother. Actually, I liked her character a lot, and it was really a shame that her past (for the time we spend putzing around the city searching for answers) is not better revealed. I wanted to see her fall from grace, how the onset of her delusions came about. There are some little tidbits of insight we get into her thought process, but not nearly enough and not nearly done convincingly enough.

You can see where I’m starting to get to the bad parts.

There is a lot of hinting at some kind of devastating war on the Surface, but the reader is never privy to that information. Instead, we get to follow Evie as she runs around with her insta-love boyfriend, escaping from a high technologically advanced city. I know, right? Woah woah woah, no. This is not cool. You cannot simply wave a war in front of my face and not tell me what happened, you know, ever. It’s okay if you tell me at the end, or you tell me in newspaper clippings, or you tell me via the Surface Dweller (aka Gavin), but you cannot just horde such vital information to the story in hopes of having some kind of plot in book money-maker Numero Two. You bring it up, you finish it. Personally, I didn’t much care what kind of futuristic, atom splitting science of the city ran on, and as much as I really appreciate (read, loved) the effort Souders put into researching sensible options of underwater survival–geothermal energy, desalination systems, plasma pistols, and organic chemistry–there is only so much I can take. And when they are on the verge of info-dumping, it honestly just sounds like Souders wants to show the reader how much effort she put into the research.

All I’m saying is, please hide it better! I know info-dumping is often crucial, but when your MC takes time out of running from her life to explain how a plasma pistol heats the air around it to a bazillion degrees and release a bolt which effectively kills its target, it jolts me out of the story. It was like reading a science textbook badly hidden between the pages of teen romance story.

And oh my Mother, there was way too much running back and forth. Run here, dead end. Run there, dead end. This ties back to the inferences about the Surface. I so expectant about learning about the Surface that every single time that Evie and Gavin ran into a obstacle, I was just annoyed. I wanted them to get to the Surface–not because I cared whether the characters were going to live, but because I wanted to see what the fracks was going on up there that was so suspicious.

And btw, there is a plot twist at the end that I don’t know how I feel about. You’ll just have to read it and decide for yourself. On one hand, it was kind of cool. On the other, I don’t know if it was what the story needed. It was a little too straightforward, too much aligned with what emotions and difficulties the MC was dealing with before to be any real shocker. When it was revealed, I just thought, “Oh. But girl, your problem is still your memories. Just like they were before. Now you’re just…you know, more bloody.”

Three paws up for:

+a great beginning that is smoothly written, with does what its supposed to do without telling you what it’s done. Inception DiCaprio.
+creepy child assassins
+the escape of a MC who is deluded
+psychological mind-games
+Mother, may I?

Two paws down for:

-the plot-disaster that occurs when a MC falls in lurve. Fluttering hearts, sudden “your miracle-drug kiss clears my mind and tells me right from wrong” syndrome
-a book that, at times, felt like a video game quest, with a lot of those annoying-as-sh-t NPCs that send you back and forth collecting nonsense. Evie: “Oh nooo, we have to go back.” Me: “The hell you do. Come on book, let’s get on with it!”
-Gavin, the love interest who runs on testosterone and instinctive, yet somewhat unnatural-feeling, iwillprotectyou genetics.
-A cast of barely-existent secondary characters

Recommended for:

-People who want a quick read
-Resident Evil fansss

Editions:

Print Edition

The Paper Foxes Rates:

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