PJV Quickie: There is no denying it, ‘Renegade’ by JA Sounders is a highly original debut young adult dystopian. The setting, the characters and the underlying plot were clever and full of an abstract originality that is sometimes severely lacking in the genre. Yet, the novel lacked connectivity between the characters, so much so, that it would actually have been better without the love aspect.
Author: J.A. Souders
Series: The Elysium Chronicles
Publication: November 13th 2012 by Tor Teen
Source: eARC provided by publisher.
Deep below the Atlantic Ocean a community exists and at its core is Evelyn Winters, Daughter of the People. She has been groomed since a young age to lead the utopian world of Elysium. Evelyn possesses the perfect mix of genes and was chosen by Mother to live the perfect life and lead her perfect people. It is hinted at in the book that the perfect mix of genes has something to do with blond hair and blue eyes and an ability to be easily brainwashed. Yet, as Evelyn sits by her perfect garden, contemplating her perfect life a Surface Dweller comes barreling into her garden and changes her life forever.
Evelyn is able to talk her tyrannical Mother into letting her interrogate the Surface Dweller, because he seems to open up to her, they have a connection. And while Evelyn questions him, things are discovered about her own self and she realizes that her life isn’t quite so perfect and her Mother is up to some very nefarious plots.
Original, RENEGADE, was original, yet the very clever plot lines never quite flowed together perfectly. The rigid bonds of the society the Mother figure maintained would have these perfectly controlled aspects, where you couldn’t pass certain areas because your DNA wasn’t in the system, yet they were easily able to slip in and out of areas that were “forgotten” and full of weapons (?). Then Mother and her soldiers would suddenly appear and claim they “knew” the whole time where Evelyn was. But, to what purpose, because then Evelyn and Gavin would slip away? Clever plot yes, just the pieces didn’t all fit. Combine that with a three day whirlwind romance that led to “I love you, I’ll die for you, I’ll change my whole world for you,” sentiments, without a feeling behind it, the book landed somewhere in the middle as far as my enjoyment. I was entranced at points and skimming at others. The book dragged during some threads and left me anxiety ridden at others. JA Sounders has potential for being a wonderful writer, but as far as her debut novel, I wouldn’t count this as one of my favorite reads. Yet, the author has shown that she has the tenacity to think outside the usual genre trappings, so I will look forward to reading more from her.
For teens 13+ recommendation. For fans of fantasy and dystopian elements. If you enjoy titles by authors like Ally Condie and Kiera Cass you should enjoy JA Souders.
Other Young Adult Dystopian Titles & 3 Star PJV Ratings:
- Romancing the Weekends: Barefoot in the Sand by Roxanne St. Claire
- Romancing the Weekends: Cowboy Crazy by Joanne Kennedy
- Review: Voracious (Clare Point, #5) by V.K. Forrest
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