Friday, November 02, 2012

Review: Renegade by J.A. Souders

From Goodreads: 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. 

My Rating: 1.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: If I could sum up J.A. Souders’ Renegade with one word, I’d use a word like messy because the frenetic pacing of the plot made it hard to follow what was going on. It also caused the development of the world, characters and romance to be sacrificed.

My first problem with Renegade was that the worldbuilding was sketchy at best. As a reader, I knew that Mother, her dad and their friends moved to Elysium to avoid war on land. That’s all I got though, really. I couldn’t fully comprehend the way that Elysium was set up – a map might have been nice since Gavin (who I still feel like I barely know!) and Evie were running all over the place – nor did I know what was going on on the Surface because Gavin doesn’t really speak much about the subject. I assumed at first that the people of Gavin’s community were living almost a pre-Industrial lifestyle since Gavin talks people getting married at a young age, trading and going hunting; but I later had to amend my thoughts when Gavin mentions video games.

I also couldn’t make myself care about the characters. Initially, the tone of the novel was great because although things seemed perfect for Evie, there was this underlying feeling of menace. However, over time, Evie’s repeated episodes of forgetfulness became more annoying than chilling to me, and made it hard to connect with her. When characters themselves don’t know who they are, how can you get to know them properly?! Evie’s forgetfulness also seemed as if it was just a convenient way for the author to get her characters to uncover another secret.

Lastly, I hated the romance because I thought it lacked chemistry and involved insta-love. From reading Evie’s perspective, it felt as if the reason she fell for Gavin was because he looked so different from the people of Elysium – meaning not only was he a Surface Dweller – something she’s fascinated by – but also because he had gray eyes instead of the Aryan qualities sought and cultured by Mother. As well, I was a bit weirded out by the fact that Evie could be so casual about Coupling with a guy she didn’t know anything about!

With its flimsy worldbuilding and weak characterization and romance, this dystopian, unfortunately, wasn’t for me!

Renegade will be released on November 13, 2012 by Tor Teen. 

Comments About the Cover: Unlike the book, I love the cover! It’s such a perfect-looking scene, but the dripping blood gives it a touch of danger.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Raincoast Books) for free.

15 comments:

  1. Well, this is no good. Messiness and flimsy world building is a big no-no for me. Definitely a sure way to make me lose interest in a book (as if the annoying characters and insta-love wouldn't accomplish that, as well...). Well, thanks for taking one for the team, Zahida, and reading it so we know not to!!

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  2. I can't enjoy a book if I can't connect with the characters. I can nearly get past anything else if a book has great characters. Also, insta love :( This book is losing it's attraction for me. I've requested it on NG. I don't know if I want to be approved now. Great review Z, I'm sorry this wasn't more enjoyable for you.

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  3. Ahh, it's a shame you didn't get on with this book. Good world building is a must for me and characterisation too!

    Thanks for the honest review!

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  4. Ouch! Sorry this one was a total strike out with you, Z. I had a hard time just trying to follow the plot description of this book. I need a balance of good world building and characterization in my book so I'm going to take a pass on this one. Hope you're next read is much better. Have a great weekend!

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  5. I was sent this book for review a few days ago and I've been excited to start ever since. I'm glad I read your review - I'll be better prepared now and sure to go in with lower expectations. I can forgive flimsy world-building if the characters are engaging enough, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. Thanks for the helpful review!

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  6. Wow, even a very positive review I've read today included a comment about the lack of chemistry. That is just too bad! I have this one on the way for review so hopefully I'll like it a bit more, but I'll try to keep my expectations low.
    Great review!

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  7. Aww, I'm so sorry this didn't work out for you! I actually loved the world-building and the unique dystopian setting of this one, but I can understand why you had qualms with it. I'm with you on the romance though - I wasn't impressed by it either. I hope you have better luck with your next novel though, dear! :)

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  8. Wow, doesn't sound like this book has much of anything to recommend it — thanks for the warning! It's very helpful to get this kind of honest, critical look at the various elements. I can sometimes overlook lousy world-building if the plot is enticing and the characters draw me in, but Renegade sounds like it fails on all three counts...so I don't think I'll be picking it up anytime soon!

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  9. Oh NO! Only a few moments ago I was reading a review of this that was bursting with praise, and I was SO convinced that this is The Book- the one that would revive my failing faith in this genre. Weak characterization and sketchy world- building are sending off red alert signals, though... To read, or not to read, that is the question.

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  10. I've heard mixed things about Renegade. With how you described Evie being so forgetful, it would frustrate me too.

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  11. I hadn't heard of this book until now. But aw, so sorry you didn't like this one, Z. I don't like that Evie sounds like my grandparents. They're very forgetful too. >.<

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  12. Hmmmm. I just read a really positive review for this one the other day, so it's interesting to read your thoughts since you are clearly on the opposite end of the spectrum. I'm on a tour for this one, so now I'm curious to see what I'll think! I'm bummed you feel the romance lacked chemistry, I'm tired of insta-love. Still, I'm looking forward to giving this one a try for no other reason than it's inspiring such mixed reviews:)

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  13. How interesting to read this, since I recently read some very positive reviews. They said the opposite of you, so now I'm really excited to find out what I think about this book :) Thanks for sharing your honest opinion and I'm going to keep this in mind! I'm sorry to hear you didn't like it.

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  14. Oh, no! I'm so sorry to see that you didn't like this. I've heard all these amazing things about it and it makes me sad that you didn't care for it. I can be very sensitive about incomplete worldbuiding too, especially with my dystopias.
    Great review, though!

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  15. hehehe... coupling. Wonder what that means.

    I'm so juvenile sometimes. Well, since I've been completely out of the loop, this is the first time I've heard of this book, but it's one I'm definitely gonna have to take a pass on. Sounds too confusing and messy for me.

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