ARC Review: Renegade by J.A Souders

Website | Goodreads
Publication Date: November 13th 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
ISBN: 0765332450
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopian
Source: Provided by the Tor Teen
Lootability: ***
Buy the Book
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
About the Book
Renegade is the troubling story of Evie, Daughter of the People, as her world crumbles around her. Evie lives in Elysium, an underwater Utopia where a lucky few were chosen to escape from the violence and destruction of the Surface World. She is the adopted daughter of Mother, the revered wise woman who rescued the people of Elysium and now rules over them. She governs who may Couple (marry and breed), allocates designations (jobs) and keeps the city running, with a nearly perfect genetic population.
"My life is just about perfect."
Yet not all is right in this genetic safe haven. For reasons known only to those with more scientific and biological know-how than myself, or with a mind warped by the path to perfection, this utopia is populated only the blonde and the blue eyed examples of human specimen (sounding familiar to anyone yet?). These models of Aryan perfection are submissive, behaved and routinely punished for displaying any their flaws. 
"It will ensure only the best are born in Elysium."
Those who know their mythology will know Elysium as the afterlife of those chosen of the Gods, the heroic and the righteous. This is achieved in Renegade through a combination of physical, genetic and mental manipulation.

My Thoughts
This is the German cover. I'm not sure why
her hair is black but I like it better.
The story progresses in fits and starts, suited in a way to Evie's mental struggles, but which can leave the reader feeling distanced from the characters and the story. Evie herself is a mess, and I've yet to decide if her ditzy and forgetful behaviour strengthened or weakened her story.
The underwater setting was evocative but somewhat lacklustre. I would have liked more time spent extolling the visual beauties of Elysium and less on repeating its history. I understand why Sounders presented this the way she did but I couldnt help wanting some more substance in the world building. 
My other problem came from the relationship between Evie and Gavin. Everything just happened, like it was...programmed into her to fall over herself for the Surface Dweller. She took him at his word about everything. Why was she so trusting?
I never really got drawn into this story, though I did like the premise. Too few questions were answered to any satisfaction and I find Gavin highly suspicious. However, I do intend to continue reading the Elysium Chronicles in order to discover more about who Evie really is. 

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