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Renegade is a YA sci-fi romance by J. A. Sounders.

Sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters is the Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia of Elysium.

Her life is just about perfect.

She was selected among hundreds of children because of her ideal genes – and she’s been trained since the age of three for her role in their society.

But when a Surface Dweller named Gavin Hunter mistakenly makes his way into their underwater paradise – her world is turned upside down.

Evelyn begins to realize that her life is a lie.

Her memories have been modified.

The person she knows as Mother is not what she pretends to be.

Unwilling to leave Gavin to the fate of death, Evelyn plots his escape.

Can Evelyn also leave behind the secluded community that’s been her home all of her life?

Wow – for me Renegade started out really strong and then went into a steep downward spiral. Why? Well…

I loved the enigmatic, mystery-shrouded start with its creepy underwater land of rules and secrets. It felt as though it’d be a story about control vs. free will with a sci-fi twist, almost an altered The Giver type idea.

But as soon as the romance (a.k.a. “help the Surface Dweller escape”) plot kicked in gear, Renegade became a little… less easy to take seriously. Cheesier, I think I’ll put it.

This is for many reasons. One thing that bugged me incessantly, and might not bother you I know, was that this is a futuristic world. Maybe not super far in the future, but at least a few generations, I’d say. Gavin acts so current-day modern that it bothered me. Evelyn talked and acted different (to be expected), but Gavin’s use of phrases like, “That was hot,” felt not only juvenile but too rooted in today. Does that make sense?

Then there was the whole aspect of Evelyn and Gavin’s sexual tension/flirting. Really? There’s a way that this can be done in a life-or-death situation, and there’s a way that it can’t. I hate to say it, but Renegade really went in the latter direction, in my opinion. It felt forced and unnatural in the situation. And kind of annoying.

Now, Renegade was always fast-paced, easy to read, and never boring. There was a chilling surprise in the last third of the book that recalled the earlier promise of the novel. It really was a nice, good, decent story – but, for me, it never lived up to that initial potential.

You might ADORE the whole romantic aspect of Renegade – and if you do, you’ll probably LOVE the book in general. Unfortunately, that whole storyline was its downfall.

Renegade swerved from smart and interesting to ridiculous and cliché, in my opinion. What did you think?


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