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Renegade (Elysium Chronicles) by J.A.…

Renegade (Elysium Chronicles) (edition 2012)

by J.A. Souders

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1721869,056 (3.87)5
Title:Renegade (Elysium Chronicles)
Authors:J.A. Souders
Info:Tor Teen (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 368 pages
Collections:Your library

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



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The story starts in the underwater city of Elysium where Evelyn Winters lives. She's the daughter of the people, her mother a sort of Governess/Empress who rules with some pretty strict laws and rules.

Most of the rules are to protect them from the surface dwellers whom the mother blames for a whole lot of things and who get characterized as warmongering monsters with no morals. Of course, that means that a surface dweller Gavin and Evelyn are bound to cross paths and they do. He drops into her gardens and ignites a curiosity in her to find out what Elysium really is, since it seems like it's not all it appears to be.

It's in the present tense, which I usually can't stand, but Souders seemed to do such a good solid job of writing it in present that at times I even forgot that it was written in present tense. I also expected it to be a little more science fiction/fantasy, but instead the main thrust of the book seemed to be a psychological thriller creepy plot with all those twists. I liked it, just didn't expect it.

Unfortunately there were things about it that I didn't like either. At times it was a bit preachy. I also couldn't really picture Elysium until the very end of the novel, which made picturing some of the action during the book a little hard.

I also had a lot of questions that were left unanswered at the end. Perhaps that's because it looks like it might be the start of a series.

I won my copy of this book from Tor Teen. ( )
  DanieXJ | Mar 5, 2015 |
I have a confession to make. I did not even know this book existed until I received its sequel from Tor Teen. I looked at the cover of this pretty hardback that I was set and wondered just what I was in for. When I saw it was the second book of the series, I looked up the first book, as any normal person would do, to see if I could get a quick overview of what had happened. I wasn't sure, you see, if I wanted to drop the cash on picking up the first one. But what I read in the summary, and what I could see of the writing in the sequel had me convinced. I needed to read the story of Evelyn and I needed to do it right, so I picked up an e-copy of Renegade by J.A. Souders and dove in.

Read the rest of this review at The Lost Entwife on Dec. 3, 2013. ( )
  TheLostEntwife | Nov 27, 2013 |
*Many thanks to Tor Teen and NetGalley for allowing early access to this title - I received a free galley in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way for this review.*

I started out LOVING this book. I thought the underwater setting was gorgeous and the whole setup was absolutely creepy. (I've been loving the creepy books lately.) Mother was one of the WORST antagonists I've ever read, and by worst, I mean she was horrible. (A horrible person, not a horribly written person, just to clarify.)

I really felt a lot of sympathy for Evie. It's obvious from the beginning that she's being terribly manipulated, but you don't really understand why. It's just one of those things that is, and you figure that it's always been that way.

As we progressed though and got to know Evie and her past, I started feeling like I was unable to suspend my disbelief any longer.



I get that Evie has a past. I get that things are cloudy for her and that they'll only come back in bits and pieces. But seriously? You go from being pretty well mindless to sudden super ninja girl? I don't buy it. I'd absolutely buy her memory coming back like that, and I think that there is absolutely muscle memory involved. But to go from zero to sixty in about .05 seconds, NO. I don't believe that, not even for a second. Even with her conditioning, I feel like her body should have retained that training in some way, and not had it buried so incredibly deeply that it just popped up one day without any prior warning. I don't know. I'm a science geek, and this science just doesn't fly.

Let's talk about Coupling here for a second.


Government getting involved in reproduction is one of the few things guaranteed to spike my ire. Doing it in a yucky way is even more of a guarantee (remember how Bumped made me so mad I wanted to throw the book?). I do not like the idea of this. I do not like it at all. Plus, when you call is something icky like 'coupling', it makes me feel like somehow, the government (read: Mother) is going to be watching somehow. I don't want to think about cameras in my bedroom, or computer systems recording every movement, thank you very much.

Also, zombie people in the blocked off section?! PLEASE. I get why they were there. I understand that they were experiments gone wrong. But with as ruthless as we've been led to believe that Mother is, wouldn't she have just eliminated them entirely? Sure, she's using them for her own nefarious purposes, but it felt a little too contrived and too trendy to me. They didn't really fit with the feeling of the book, in my opinion. They felt forced and weird.

Also, I hate zombies. Put them in there without any warning, and I knock off points.

I feel bad that I started out loving this book and ended up having a serious love/hate relationship with it. I HATED Evie by the end. Really hated her. Couldn't muster a single bit of sympathy for her, and it's not even her fault.


I'll continue the series, only because I REALLY liked Gavin. He was the one character who felt real and awesome the entire time.

2.5 Eiffel Towers ( )
  emmyson | Oct 9, 2013 |
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 requires 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 can’t recall? Is her world the perfect utopia she’s 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 the boy, Gavin Hunter, she is drawn to him and tries 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’s 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. ( )
  love_of_books | Aug 18, 2013 |
I suspect I know what you're thinking. You're looking at that cover and imagining that this will be yet another cheesy romance disguised as dystopia, with a world built solely to keep the hero and heroine from being able to get it on. Well, let me tell you right now, this is not the case here. The cover is beautiful and has a girl in a dress and just doesn't look like the cover for a true, creepy dystopia. You know what, though? This cover fits the book perfectly AND Renegade also happens to be a true dystopia, one that is freaky and creepy as all get out, and, oh my, did I love it.

You're still skeptical, right? I mean, the first sentence is "My life is just about perfect." That's a little barf-inducing. That was my thought too, so I don't begrudge you this suspicion. I worried at first because it did seem like what I expected: a selfish, naive heroine and a cheesy setup for a romance. I mentally prepared myself for the imminent headdesk that didn't come. I promise you that there's a reason that Evelyn acts the way she does in the beginning, and that reason is dark and shiver-inducing.

What's funny is that for the first couple of chapters this book is straight-up The Little Mermaid. I could think of nothing else at first, and it still makes me laugh. Evelyn likes to spend a lot of time in her garden, the privileged favorite of Mother, the leader of the people. Evelyn, though mostly a good daughter, is a little forgetful, a little disobedient. More obviously, Evelyn gets into trouble for collecting a coin from the surface, since, you know, they live in a community under the sea and aren't supposed to be interested in those on the surface. Mother's wrath reminded me heavily of Triton's when Ariel was all obsessed with the Eric statue and saved the real Eric and everything (though his anger pales in comparison to Mother's when the surface dweller Gavin appears, though that's a topic for later). Anyway, this concludes my discussion of The Little Mermaid.

Things quickly take a turn for the much less Disney, however. Enjoy the lava-shiny happy bits while they last, because it's pretty much going to be a mindfuck for the rest of the journey. As I've mentioned Mother is one scary bitch. She reminds me a bit of Eldest from Across the Universe for those of you who are familiar with that: willing to do anything to make sure her utopia remains just that. She has some serious control issues. Perhaps, though, you need a concrete example of just how horrifyingly awful and terrifying she is to believe my assessment. Well, I'll do you one better: I'll give you two examples.

1. Mother has created her idea of the perfect society in her underwater paradise. Elysium is entirely self-sufficient, can produce all of its food, technology and materials right there, with no need to go to the violent, war-torn surface. They are safe and happy. Every single person in Elysium is also blonde-haired and blue-eyed. Yeah, if taking a page out of Hitler's book doesn't have you fetching a straitjacket to stuff Mother into, then I think you probably need to go get some more education.

2. Even more horrific, since Mother could perhaps have just collected good Aryan stock to bring down with her and not created her society of people with what she believes to be perfect genetics through genocide, are the Enforcers. Every society needs police, of course, because accidents happen and people aren't perfect. Mother's Enforcers, though, are all women, taken from their parents at the age of three to be molded into the perfect killing machines.

Yeah, so this one definitely is not in the camp of fluffy books packaged as dystopias as an effort to make more money. It IS a dystopia. Hurrah! I really appreciated Souders' world building and writing, which worked really well with the story she's telling. I also thought the snippets of the society's governing tenants and documents were used to great effect at the beginning of each chapter.

The only weak point for me at all was in the characterization. Of course, this is largely intentional, I think, though I cannot explain precisely why without spoiling something I want to leave completely new to you. I think she gets the narration exactly right for what she's doing, but Evelyn is a little hard to feel with as a result. I will say thought that Evelyn will probably surprise you. She grows and changes constantly as the book progresses; like the ocean, she has hidden depths. Because we get everything through Evelyn's lens, however, the other characters do not coalesce into anything tangible.

More troubling is the instalove. Yes, I know, I hear you crying. While not ideal, I do think the instalove here is less obnoxious than most because of the circumstances they're in and because the society does not exist solely to keep them apart. The romance is there, but it's not the central struggle of the book.

Renegade is jam-packed with action and will totally mess with your head. There are a lot of dissapointing dystopias out there, as happens in any absurdly popular genre, but this one rocks and is definitely worth a read for dystopian fans. I am so excited to find out what will happen in the next book, because the story could go so many places right now and that's just fabulous! ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
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Trained since the age of three to be Daughter of the People, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters believes her underwater world of Elysium is perfect until Gavin Hunter, a surface Dweller, stumbles into Elysium and she realizes that everything she knows is a lie perpetrated by "Mother".… (more)

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