Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Renegade by J. A. Soulders

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.

Hardcover, 364 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Tor Teen

(info bomb grabbed from GoodReads)
Renegade is a great new addition to the YA dystopian genre.  Lately I had been feeling that most dystopian novels were just redoing ideas that had been done before, but I didn’t feel that way with Renegade at all.  It was not quite like anything I've read yet, but still had all the right points that make dystopian one of my favorite genres to read; it is exciting, it is creepy, and it made me question humanity.  It also kind of reminds Bioshock for Xbox 360 -- and by “kind-of-reminds-me,” I really mean Renegade could have been a prequel to the game.  They both take place in an underwater society, have little girl assassins, and a bunch of other things that might be spoilers for the book.

Renegade pulls you right into the shoes of Evelyn, daughter of the people in the underwater world of Elysium with the reader waking up in her princess bed and going about her princess duties.  Even in those mundane morning activities, the reader is already going “What…?” with the crazy eyes.  I, for one, absolutely love pulling my hair out and screaming "WHAT IS GOING ON???" at books.  LOVE.  IT.  And that happened a lot with Renegade and really formed a layer of creeptastic-ness all over Evelyn's home of Elysium.  It wasn't messy -- it was deliberate and planned and amazing.  Basically, if normal books have plot twists, Renegade was a plot contortionist.

There are a few things I would say negatively about Renegade, and one is that it was very tell and not show.  Even so, it was well done and not an issue -- just something I noticed.  I still had a clear picture of everything that was going on, it just could have been a little better.  Showing vs. telling paints a picture in the readers mind rather than explicitly telling the reader exactly what is going on.  It's the difference between: The sun beat down on me and sweat began to trickle down my cheek vs. It was hot.  That's an extreme example, and Renegade was definitely not anywhere near the craptasticness of my second sentence.

The only other criticism was that it felt like the characters were reacting and reacting and new situation and reaction... and it made me tired.  It got a little old, and thus I lost some steam at the end of the novel, much to my own dismay.  Because other than that, Renegade was one of the most fun books I have read all year.  I highly recommend it to anyone who loves dystopian and/or sci-fi, or books that mess with your head a bit.

I think I may have a panic attack if I hear Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid.

Final Thought: 18 out of 20 toadstools

This review is also posted on GoodReads

I’m going to continue my little video game plug here: if you read Renegade and liked it, I highly recommend playing Bioshock.  Even if you don’t like video games (or think you don’t like video games), borrow your brother’s Xbox 360 and humor me.  I would find it hard to believe if the author was not inspired by this game since they have so much in common.  Also, Bioshock is one of many games where the story is just as important as the game play, proving that video games are becoming another type of storytelling media. 

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