Monday, June 30, 2014

Renegade by J.A. Souders

Evie leads a tranquil life in the city of Elysium, an underwater city that Mother founded to take the citizens away from the violence of the greed of the Surface Dwellers above.  The city is secret and safe, and well protected from an invasion from the Surface Dwellers with a series of automated defences that will stop any threat from above.  Each day Evie wakes and spends time in her garden tending to her plants, working on her cross stitch, or playing her violin.  As the Daughter of the People Mother is grooming her to become her successor, the next ruler of the people of Elysium.  Evie strives to do her best, even though she has moments when her memory is poor or she fails to recognise things - the people lover her, even though to them she is ditzy and somewhat vague.

When a Surface Dweller breaches the cities protections, Evie suddenly finds herself caught in a strange and eerie new world.  Little cracks are forming in her memories, little cracks that make no sense and leave her reeling with confusion   When the Surface Dweller, Gavin, tries to reach her and tells her things that can't be true, Evie struggles against her own memories.  With each passing moment spent with Gavin she realises that something is very wrong - wrong with Mother, wrong with Elysium, and most importantly wrong with her.  As the layers of mystery and conspiracy are stripped away, Evie comes to realise that she has to help Gavin escape back to the surface because Mother is determined to kill him - no matter what the cost.  As they race towards a confrontation, Evie will discover that there is more to her life than she could have guessed, and that everyone in Elysium lives and dies at the whim of Mother.

There has been a flurry of books labelled under the dystopian genre in the past few years, and many of them fail to deliver on their promise - either because they fail to really touch the human part of the story, or because they try and be just too clever for their own good.  I was a little dubious about Renegade when I picked it up, partly because the cover is not particularly inspiring, but once I started reading I was hooked.  One of the strengths of this story is that we see the world through Evie's eyes, and it is through her eyes that we watch the world turn from one tinged with gold and hope, to one coated with blood and despair.  

Souders has a fantastic style that blended together the very human story of Evie and Gavin, and the tense and atmospheric world of Elysium and the secrets that float beneath the apparently tranquil surface of this underwater world.  While it is clear from the first few chapters that there is something not quite right with Evie, it soon becomes clear that it is not Evie that is broken or wrong, it is the world she lives in. There are subtle clues throughout the early chapters that hint at what the secrets beneath the perfect veneer might be, but when the full effect of Mothers planning and scheming is revealed it is totally mind boggling.

This is a true dystopian world, and like most of the best dystopian series on the surface everything seems to be perfect, and it is only by experiencing the world through the eyes of Evie and Gavin that we realise things are very very wrong.  A fantastic first book for this series, and I can't wait to read the sequel to see what happens next.

If you like this book then try:
  • Revelations by J.A. Souders
  • Breathe by Sarah Crossan
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  • The hunger games by Suzanne Collins
  • The testing by Joelle Charbonneau
  • Eve by Anna Carey
  • Inside out by Maria V. Snyder
  • Amongst the hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The limit by Kristin Landon
  • Legend by Marie Lu
  • Slated by Teri Terry
  • XVI by Julia Karr

Reviewed by Brilla

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