Book Review: Renegade by J.A. Souders

Elysium Chronicles Book 1
J.A. Souders
Tor Teen, November 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7653-3245-5

Evelyn Winters leads a privileged life. She is Daughter to the People, to the People of Elysium and one day, she will rule their underwater haven, safe from the dangerous Surface Dwellers and their endless killing. Her life is just about perfect, the life she remembers that is; the one they keep telling her she enjoys. But what is a life? The one you have or the one you choose?

Dear Author,

Your book started well enough. With a dystopian feel and set in an underwater haven where illness is scarce and resources are plentiful Renegade begins with promise. It soon becomes apparent that all is not quite right here and a few times, it appears that the book starts anew. The reasons for this become apparent later on and the sinister, unhinged character that is Mother soon starts to reveal her true nature. As far as dystopian stories go, this one has potential but for me, there was not enough detail. Important elements to the story were sketchy and almost added as an afterthought. The result of this is that there is very little depth to the characters, the overall setting and ultimately, the book. Also, the main character Evelyn or ‘Evie’ seems to fall in love ridiculously easy and ends up morphing into someone who you don’t really believe in. From a simpering, mild-mannered and obedient teenager, she quite suddenly becomes a fierce warrior and rebel, openly defying her superiors all because of the emergence of a Surface Dweller who she decides must survive at all costs, even if that means her dying for him. Somehow difficult to accept don’t you think?

Ultimately, your book needs a lot of work before it would become a popular title for young adults. There needs to be more depth to the characters and added detail given to flesh out the location and the overall story. All this could be tolerated though if it had some sort of satisfactory ending. After spending a few hours reading through around 360 pages, the ending that I arrived at seemed like an insult. Abruptly finishing and with little or no attention to the overall premise, the ending of this book was a complete let down. It seemed as if you just couldn’t be bothered and the lazy ending is the main reason why I won’t be recommending this otherwise promising title. I felt like I had wasted my time reading all those pages to be rewarded with a sloppy ending with a half-hearted conclusion.


Sincerely yours,
A cheesed off reviewer.

Reviewed by Laura McLaughlin, December 2013.