Review + Giveaway: Renegade Blog Tour

I received this book for free from Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review + Giveaway: Renegade Blog TourRenegade by J. A. Souders
Published by Tor Teen on November 13, 2012
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 364
Format: ARC
Source: Blog Tour
Goodreads
three-half-stars

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.

First Sentence:My life is just about perfect.

Review:
I suspect I know what you’re thinking. You’re looking at that cover and imagining that this will be yet another cheesy romance disguised as dystopia, with a world built solely to keep the hero and heroine from being able to get it on. Well, let me tell you right now, this is not the case here. The cover is beautiful and has a girl in a dress and just doesn’t look like the cover for a true, creepy dystopia. You know what, though? This cover fits the book perfectly AND Renegade also happens to be a true dystopia, one that is freaky and creepy as all get out, and, oh my, did I love it.

You’re still skeptical, right? I mean, the first sentence is “My life is just about perfect.” That’s a little barf-inducing. That was my thought too, so I don’t begrudge you this suspicion. I worried at first because it did seem like what I expected: a selfish, naive heroine and a cheesy setup for a romance. I mentally prepared myself for the imminent headdesk that didn’t come. I promise you that there’s a reason that Evelyn acts the way she does in the beginning, and that reason is dark and shiver-inducing.

What’s funny is that for the first couple of chapters this book is straight-up The Little Mermaid. I could think of nothing else at first, and it still makes me laugh. Evelyn likes to spend a lot of time in her garden, the privileged favorite of Mother, the leader of the people. Evelyn, though mostly a good daughter, is a little forgetful, a little disobedient. More obviously, Evelyn gets into trouble for collecting a coin from the surface, since, you know, they live in a community under the sea and aren’t supposed to be interested in those on the surface. Mother’s wrath reminded me heavily of Triton’s when Ariel was all obsessed with the Eric statue and saved the real Eric and everything (though his anger pales in comparison to Mother’s when the surface dweller Gavin appears, though that’s a topic for later). Anyway, this concludes my discussion of The Little Mermaid.

Things quickly take a turn for the much less Disney, however. Enjoy the lava-shiny happy bits while they last, because it’s pretty much going to be a mindfuck for the rest of the journey. As I’ve mentioned Mother is one scary bitch. She reminds me a bit of Eldest from Across the Universe for those of you who are familiar with that: willing to do anything to make sure her utopia remains just that. She has some serious control issues. Perhaps, though, you need a concrete example of just how horrifyingly awful and terrifying she is to believe my assessment. Well, I’ll do you one better: I’ll give you two examples.

1. Mother has created her idea of the perfect society in her underwater paradise. Elysium is entirely self-sufficient, can produce all of its food, technology and materials right there, with no need to go to the violent, war-torn surface. They are safe and happy. Every single person in Elysium is also blonde-haired and blue-eyed. Yeah, if taking a page out of Hitler’s book doesn’t have you fetching a straitjacket to stuff Mother into, then I think you probably need to go get some more education.

2. Even more horrific, since Mother could perhaps have just collected good Aryan stock to bring down with her and not created her society of people with what she believes to be perfect genetics through genocide, are the Enforcers. Every society needs police, of course, because accidents happen and people aren’t perfect. Mother’s Enforcers, though, are all women, taken from their parents at the age of three to be molded into the perfect killing machines.

I picture them as Mord-Sith.

Yeah, so this one definitely is not in the camp of fluffy books packaged as dystopias as an effort to make more money. It IS a dystopia. Hurrah! I really appreciated Souders’ world building and writing, which worked really well with the story she’s telling. I also thought the snippets of the society’s governing tenants and documents were used to great effect at the beginning of each chapter.

The only weak point for me at all was in the characterization. Of course, this is largely intentional, I think, though I cannot explain precisely why without spoiling something I want to leave completely new to you. I think she gets the narration exactly right for what she’s doing, but Evelyn is a little hard to feel with as a result. I will say thought that Evelyn will probably surprise you. She grows and changes constantly as the book progresses; like the ocean, she has hidden depths. Because we get everything through Evelyn’s lens, however, the other characters do not coalesce into anything tangible.

More troubling is the instalove. Yes, I know, I hear you crying. While not ideal, I do think the instalove here is less obnoxious than most because of the circumstances they’re in and because the society does not exist solely to keep them apart. The romance is there, but it’s not the central struggle of the book.

Renegade is jam-packed with action and will totally mess with your head. There are a lot of dissapointing dystopias out there, as happens in any absurdly popular genre, but this one rocks and is definitely worth a read for dystopian fans. I am so excited to find out what will happen in the next book, because the story could go so many places right now and that’s just fabulous!

Favorite Quote:

“I try again, using a smile this time—a woman’s best weapon is her smile, unless there’s a loaded Beretta 9mm nearby.”

Giveaway:

Make sure you stop by the guest post of J. A. Souders’ favorite movies while you’re here! Anywho, you can also enter to win this tour-wide giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

20 responses to “Review + Giveaway: Renegade Blog Tour”

  1. Giselle says:

    I KNEW THERE WOULD BE LITTLE MERMAID GIFS!! BAHAHA! I love this! And dude I have to read Across the Universe! I even have the first book here somewhere. But yes Mother was a fucking crazy bitch!! What a great villain though she’s terrifying! I was also wondering hoe you’d feel about the romance. It was insta-lovey but it wasn’t an all encompassing turning the MCs brain to mush love so I think it really fit the situation.

    **spoiler below for any wandering eyes*
    I also liked how the author handled her going outside for the first time. Did you read Enclave? The MC went out for the first time in her LIFE and she barely had a sunburn and no problem adjusting her eyes–like simple 100 year old sunglasses was all it took. Just another thing I noticed that made me like this book.

    **spoilers over**

    LOVE that you loved it!

    • Christina says:

      You are so wise, Giselle! I totally resisted the urge to use ALL of The Little Mermaid gifs!

      Dude, I think you would definitely be entertained by Across the Universe. I liked Renegade better than the first book, but the second one improved on the first.

      Yup, I wasn’t in love with the romance, but I could deal with it. They didn’t have a crazy connection, but they were stressed and he was the first guy she’d ever seen that was really unique. It was also more awesome because she’d actually been in love before, only she couldn’t remember. That shiz was COOL.

      True, I didn’t notice when I read Enclave, but that was pretty early on in my blogging/reflecting more on my reading. I’ve heard that’s what happened though. Skylark had an adjustment period to the outside too. I remember that.

  2. OOO, I’m definitely reading this, Christina! You are a queen of dystopian YA, so I’d better listen! 🙂 Fab review!

  3. Steena says:

    Haha, I love this post so much, ESPECIALLY for the Legend of the Seeker GIF.

    Thanks to books and film, I have an immediate distrust of any leader who chooses to call themselves Mother or Father. It never ends well.

  4. Audra says:

    Hrmmmmm — I’m kind of intrigued because you pretty much answered my every mental concern the moment they emerged! (Brava, psychic book reviewer!) The cover is so gorgeous/cheesy/deceptive/fabu.

  5. KM says:

    Oooo I’m glad this is good! I’m supposed to be getting a copy from Tor, and I’ve been looking forward to reading it! (Despite the fact that it’s dystopian and I’m totes over those. But the blurb sounded so cool!)

    Also, can I just say that the Disney GIFs are hilarious? #love 🙂

    • Christina says:

      Oooh, lucky!

      I love dystopian novels, but I know a lot of people are over it. I don’t know why I love them so much, since I think I rate them lower on average than the rest. lol.

      I love the gifs too.

  6. This sounds 50 shades of awesome. Thanks for review, I wanna read it now!
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  7. Yay! Another positive review! So glad they keep pouring in! 🙂

  8. Nori says:

    This sounds amazing! Dystopia mixed with Little Mermaid sounds like a dream come true!

  9. Your review had me giggling the entire time, until I read Giselle’s review I looked at the cover and thought the exact things you mentioned..glad you enjoyed this one and loved your analysis of it!

    • Christina says:

      I was so glad to see Giselle’s review, because I was really afraid I would have that awkward tour moment where I couldn’t rate it high enough. It was awesome, though!

  10. See as long as it doesn’t get turned into a starcrossed romance bit with the dystopia as the hatchet then we’re all good here. If it’s less obnoxious and the chemistry is nice enough, then I don’t mind a leading man who falls in instalove with our heroine. But, I love that so many people are loving this book because it totes reassures me. Plus, you were snarky enough that it didn’t seem like you were glossing over anything, WHICH IS EVEN MORE REASSURING.

    • Christina says:

      Precisely! The whole society isn’t fucked just because you can’t get it on with your boyfriend. There are other ways to make a romantic conflict.

      Haha, this is my life goal. Hope you enjoy it!

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