Monday, October 29, 2012

Review + Giveaway: Renegade by JA Souders

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J.A. Souders
Series: The Elysium Chronicles #1
Publication date: November 13th 2012
by Tor Teen


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.

*A copy was provided by Macmillan for review purposes*

Holy bloody muffins!!

Look at this pretty cover! Right? Don’t be fooled! The world inside Renegade is not pretty. It’s not beautiful! It’s gory, disturbing, sick, and the more you advance in the story, the more terrifying it all becomes. It starts innocently enough. Perfect life, in a perfect garden, everyone is “perfect” with perfect blue eyes and perfect blond hair, perfect genetics to make perfect babies in this perfect world full of perfect flowers and perfect fish–for real! They live in an underwater dome– you get my gist. It’s a utopia. At least until Evelyn realizes she’s been forgetting things. Her memory is not what it should be, and neither is Mother.

“Failure will not be tolerated. The only result of failure is death
-Enforcer Statute 104A.3″

Mother… That’s what she goes by in this world. She is, of course, the perfect leader. More like, the perfect villain. Like the world itself, the more we learn about Mother, the more perturbed you will feel. This woman has some twisted plans and has been working on sick, gruesome experiments that made my eyes widen in disgust–me: the lover of all things horror. It was not always from the gore either, although there is plenty of it, but also from a psychological perspective. Brainwashing, manipulation, memory alteration, all from an alarmingly young age; there is nothing this woman has not tried. It is all so disturbing in so many ways.

“”Oh my God,” Gavin says, and starts gagging.
Even I can’t blame him. The hallway is covered with dead bodies. The floor is sticky with partially dried pools of blood. The walls and even the ceiling are covered in sprays of blood. And it drips from the ceiling like sprinkles of rain.”

Evelyn is Daughter of The People; mother’s best and brightest. This girl was chosen as Mother’s daughter as she is the epitome of perfect. She will grow up to be the next perfect perfectness. It comes without saying, this girl did not evade Mother’s maniacal engineering. What does this give us? A very broken, messed up protagonist! A girl who is stubborn and resilient, with a mind that has been so altered, that she, herself, is not sure what is true anymore. I found the psychological aspect of this character–this novel as a whole, really– to be incredibly well done. Layer after layer we see the mental instability of not only Evie, but this whole sick “utopia”. Evie shows us her amazing strength and determination, then in the blink of an eye, she turns into someone completely different with seemingly no control over her own thoughts and actions. Now she can’t even trust herself! I love books that add in psychological twists, they both terrify and fascinate me, and Souders did this brilliantly.

Some may consider the romance insta-love. I saw it more as a quick bond founded on this need to survive. Living through horrible life and death situations with another person forms unimaginable bonds, and this is what happens to Evie and Gavin. It’s not the cliché all-empowering-end-all love, but a sweet, believable romance that has quickly, but believably formed between two teenagers running for there lives together, keeping each other alive. And this escape is serious; Imperative. There is a LOT riding on it and will be the difference between a new life, or a life that is worse than death. The pace is set high with constant action, though not so much that it deprives us of character or world building. The horrors that we see along the way makes it even more electrifying; and what’s worse, is it’s all frighteningly real. Even the dome is described in such great scientific detail that it convinces of its plausibility. When we get to the ending, we see ourselves at the start of a new journey that will take part in book two. Oh, the wait will be a killer!

Renegade is the kind of book where the more you read, the better it gets. So for a book that starts already uphill, by the time I was done, I was not only on top of the hill, but I had leaped over, and into an abyss of bloody muffins. Yes, it all comes down to the muffins!

Way down yonder, down in the meadow,
There’s a poor wee little lamby.
The bees and the butterflies pickin’ at its eyes,
The Poor wee thing cried for her mommy.

-Children song, part of the pre-school curriculum
*Note that all quotes in this review were taken from an uncorrected proof*

5 Smokin’ Hot Espressos
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As part of the blog tour, you can enter to win some swag and a secret number of Renegade pre-orders!
Open to US addresses only
Giveaway ends November 8th, 2012
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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31 Responses to “Review + Giveaway: Renegade by JA Souders”

  1. Jenn Renee

    This book sounds so awesome. I have had my eye on it for a while and I am happy to see a review, and a really positive one at that. The story sounds unique and exciting. Can’t wait to have it in my collection. thanks for the giveaway and great review.

  2. Jennifer Messerschmidt

    I’ve been wanting this book forever! It sounds like it is different than what I was expecting but in a good way. I knew there was something suspicious with this world and being daughter of the people but I had no idea it would be so manipulative and disturbing. I say never trust anyone that is called Mother! I mean that is a horrible leader name. All wrong. The dome sounds beautiful but I am wondering how they got there and where she will escape too. I don’t like insta-love but agree that life and death situations can create bonds faster. bejeezo muffins lol love it!

  3. Christina

    Ah, yeah! 5 of them! I’m really liking this book quite a bit as well. I didn’t want to stop reading and go to sleep, but I have enough trouble getting up in the morning as it is.

    Mother is the fucking creepiest! I keep imagining her and Eldest from Across the Universe getting together and lying to their society about everything and killing people and being generally awful together. What’s funny is this cover totally fits the book, but the part where she thinks her life is Just about perfect, not the OH SHIT IT’S NOT part. lol.

  4. Amy

    5 ESPRESSOS!!! Need this book like right now!! You almost never have a 5 rating!! I have been wanting to read this for a while and now I am just so much more excited. I think I might be getting it for blog tour. I got invited to participate, but then didn’t hear anything back after I responded. Either way this is definitely a book I will be buying! Fab review pumpkin!!

  5. Giselle

    @Christina: Yes the cover fits perfectly (ha!). I just had the impression it would be a pretty tame dystopian (Something like Wither, maybe), because of it. I’m happy it wasn’t though I loved how dark it was! Definitely right up my alley, this one. I can’t wait to read your review of it!

    @Amy: Oh yay! Jenni also got invited and never heard back so it seems like she’s just slow to reply to everyone. Maybe waiting to hear back from some bloggers, too, or something.

    Thanks, ladies!

  6. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    GAH! I NEED to read this book. I love how it just has it all, the gore and the real horror (cause to me gore is not horror.) Mother sounds completely haunting, I think you’re right, I’m totally going to LOVE this one. AWESOME review!

  7. Bonnie R

    Oh my. This is one that snuck under my radar (I blame the too pretty cover) but this sounds right up my alley. Fantastic review as always, Giselle! Thanks for being a constant contributor to my TBR list. 😉

  8. Mel - Thedailyprophecy.

    5 espressos, wow! I must say, I’ve been looking forward to read this book from the moment I saw the gorgeous cover. I’m really happy to read that it’s so good! 😀 Evelyn sounds like a great character. Stubborn girls are fun. Her romance with Gavin sounds perfect and sweet 🙂

    Great review!

  9. lisseth Torres

    YAY! I’m so glad you LOVED IT. And I know this book was mad crazy and Mother was just @_@ yeah. And thank God u saw the bond Gavin and Evelyn had and not the insta-love because that’s how I felt too! 🙂

    Thanks for being part of the tour, Giselle ^_^
    From Lisseth & Nikki, The Book Paparazzi!

  10. Amanda

    This book sounds amazing! I love horror, and I have no idea why I haven`t heard about this book before! I need to read it now! Great review 😉

  11. Megan K.

    RENEGADE has officially made it onto my wishlist. I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed it! I’ve been looking forward to reading reviews of it, and yours is the first I’ve seen so far. 🙂 The world building sounds fantastic, and Evie sounds badass!

    Great review, Giselle! I think I’m gonna have to pre-order this one! <3

  12. Gellie

    I’ve seen praises and not so good reviews for this book. It’s good that you found this favorable 😀 I’m not a big fan of horror though but still I am intrigued by this book.

    Great review, Giselle 😀


  13. Sam

    Oh my, this sounds incredible! I know Keertana from Ivy Book Bindings really enjoyed this too so I’m really looking forward to starting my copy soon. AWESOME review, Giselle. I’m glad you were impressed by this. 🙂

  14. Jen (A Reading Daydreamer)

    Hehe, the muffins. Holy cow Giselle, you have completely persuaded me to pick up this book EXTREMELY soon. Even though I’m a wimp and will probably get freaked out, I still want to check this book out and experience the thrill that you so thoroughly enjoyed! I’m interested to read about the somewhat insta-love romance.. 😛 FABULOUS review, Giselle! <3

  15. kimbacaffeinate

    Holy bloody muffins in right..i had no idea this one was so intense..i mean the cover says, “another romance”..eep! Awesome review Giselle, adding this one to my list for sure.

  16. Alexa

    This book sounds ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT. This is the first review I’ve read for it, and I find that I’m only MORE intrigued by what you had to say. I do love when there’s a psychological aspect (and a well done one) in my books!

  17. Denise Z

    Well I am looking forward to jumping over and into the abyss of bloody muffins – oh my – who wouldn’t!! Thank you for sharing this read with us today 🙂

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