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Renegade (The Elysium Chronicles Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Evelyn comes to learn from Mother that Gavin, having not given up any useful information, is facing a death sentence. Finding herself falling for him, Evelyn puts into motion a plan to help Gavin escape prison and get back to the Surface. It's only when she starts to carry out this escape plan that she really sees the true core of evil that lies within the woman she knows as Mother.
I was really excited for the concept of this novel since I seem to be a sucker for dystopian or underwater worlds and this seemed to be a little bit of both. It took me a little while to really get into this book though --- a large portion of the book actually. I was liking it but not really loving it. I was curious why Mother was as cold as she was in the beginning, just how evil her character would turn, so that kept me reading. Mother seems SO obsessed with power, being the creator & controller of the perfect race, perfectly blonde and blue-eyed, immune to any and all disease. She puts together teams of scientists to experiment with gene manipulation and nanobot technology (to be used to clean the blood of sick citizens), developing mind control programs so she can influence citizens into doing, saying or feeling only what SHE wants, getting them to the point where they won't think twice about killing anyone who challenges her methods or her vision. Honestly, it all made me wonder if Souders was playing off what we know of Hitler and his drive to create the perfect Aryan race.
I liked Gavin, but I found Evelyn a little flat as a character. She did start to grow on me some near the end, so that makes me curious to continue the series and see how or if she develops. Gavin and Evelyn, I admit, did make kind of a cute couple but there were a few times where their smooshy face love moments got a little gag inducing for me (to be fair though, that is kind of a by-product of late teen first love).
I also liked the world of Elysium, I just found myself wishing it had been fleshed out a little more. Some of the descriptions were a little confusing or not explained well enough. There were also some minor issues I had with the writing itself. There were some continuity issues in the plot. It takes 120 pages for us to meet the girl that is suppose to be Evelyn's best friend in the entire world -- if she's such an important person, why does she not come into the storyline sooner? Also, I think I read some variation of the line "I dug my nails into my palms, breaking skin" AT LEAST 3-4 times. Got a bit repetitive for me. But this is Souders' debut novel, so a reader has to allow for room to grow, I think.
The plot intensity does go up a good in the last quarter or so of the novel. There's enough here to leave me curious enough to continue on with the series -- let you know how it goes!
The world of Elysium is an eden located under the sea, which I actually love the idea of but after reading the book I don't think I could survive in a compound under the sea. Can you say claustorphobia? Mother, the governess of Elysium, is responsible for the creation of Elysium and claims it was her idea that sparked the creation of the perfect human specimen. It kind of blew my mind how similar her views and Hitler's views are. Basically Mother is a crazy dictator and like most dictatorships the people who follow her are too scared to question her truths and reasonings. The more I read the more I realized how twisted she was.
Evelyn, or Evie as she likes to be called, is our MC. She has been brought up by Mother to become the Daughter of the People. At first I feel sorry for her but it's not long into the book that I realize there is no need to pity her, the girl has a badass side hidden deep down. Evie is the one to help Gavin, a dirty "surface dweller", escape from the clutches of Mother. Her plan is pretty ingenious, until it fails. I'm pretty sure Gavin is pissed deep down that the plan didn't work out since it included some hanky panky happening but it's tough times. The rest of the book is spent following Evie and Gavin as they try to find a safe way out of Elysium and the secrets they discover along the way.
There are these Elite Soldiers called Enforcers. Basically they are Mother's own personal mercenaries. I just want to say I think they are pretty scary but at the same time fascinating. Only girls can be an enforcer and if they are chosen to be one their "training" starts at the young age of 5. I like the idea that only girls are good enough for Enforcer status, it's not often you see that, but hate the idea of child soldiers.
There is a lot of action and a lot of mystery swirled together in Renegade. Nothing is as it seems and the truth has terrifying components to it. The characters are well developed and while Gavin and Evie find themselves in insta-love I have hopes for their future.
I have to admit I'm excited for the next book, I'm hoping it will tell us more about the surface. Is it really as bad as Mother says or are the "surface dwellers" the actual good guys?