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.
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.
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
I received this e-arc from the publishers via Netgalley for review, I was in no way compensated for this review.
J.A. Souders' Renegade was an interesting story. I admit I fell in love by the cover, but the story was not at all what I was expecting. The name, Elysium, according to my dictionary means "the dwelling place of virtuous people after death" or "any state of ideal bliss; paradise". So it got me thinking, Greek mythology? Under the sea--mermaids?
But it was all wrong. I'd say for this book, Elysium means the state of ideal bliss. Since the people who live in this dome like thing under the sea call it Elysium. They are their own society. The Surface was such a horrendous place filled with murderers and other terrible things, it was created by the Mother. Mother, as she is called by everyone, rules the city with an iron fist, but is kind and yet, strict.
Evie is her daughter of sorts, she was adopted, she knows this...most of the time. Evie seems to have a problem with her memories. There are things she cannot remember, yet she knows that there is something more to what's going on. Like she's lived the life before or something like that. That was part of what was so confusing. It's not that Evie is an unreliable narrator, it's just that there's so much that she doesn't truly know, so we don't truly know it either.
When the Surface Dweller stumbles upon her home, in her gardens, he is taken captive. Mother tasks Evie to find out what the Surface Dweller knows. How did he get here? Why did he come? That stuff, but instead Evie and Gavin, the Surface Dweller form a friendship of sorts.
All too soon though, Evie and Gavin are on the run. Evie was doing everything possible to save Gavin, since her Mother was planning on killing him no matter what, so she breaks him out of his prison and they are literally on the run. Inside this bubble dome. So they can't run far really, but they run for nearly 3/4 of the book. Trying to escape Mother and her guards who are everywhere looking for the two of them.
Evie's life gets turned totally upside down in this manner and dark secrets are revealed. Her own dark secrets. Ones she didn't even know about.
Hence some of my confusion. There's so much we don't really know about Elysium and Mother. Evie and Gavin do find some journals and other clues that help put some pieces together, but all we really learn is that we don't know anything! Everything Evie thought she knew was a lie.
Naturally, there is some romance between Evie and Gavin. And it was a little too insta for me. They fell in "love" a little too quickly for my liking! As I've said before, I like romances to build, rather than there be love at first sight. Or 20 pages later.
The ending was a doozie as well! Evie and Gavin are trying to make their great escape, with guards and Mother throwing everything at them, trying to kill them more than once...and then the unthinkable happens. Which I will end that there, so as not to lead to spoilers!
As you all know, I love my paranormal tales! Tales of magic or fairy tale retellings--and that includes Greek mythology. I had thought that this novel might be something of the latter, but it wasn't really. It wasn't horrible by far. It just wasn't something I enjoyed as much as I had hoped. I'm not totally sure what this book would be classified as. The time setting is a little unknown, but I have the feeling we would know by the second book. I guess there's some kind of dystopian feel to it, but I hesitate calling it that too.
Overall, it was a nice book. It just wasn't for me. I do encourage anyone else who is enchanted by the cover description to give the book a try!
Overall rating 3.5/5 stars