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Radiant Shadows


Renegade - Deceptively disturbing, Renegade starts off relatively utopianesque, merely hinting at the possibility of darker themes to come. As Evie's memories beging to resurface, and she stumbles upon horrifying truth after horrifying truth, you quickly realize that Renegade is anything but a utopian in the face of Mother's twisted and gruesome plans for Elysium.My life is just about perfect.Evie's motto, on the surface, is seemingly correct. She spends her days gardening or practicing the violin, courting several suitors in the hopes of finding a compatible partner and tending to various tasks handed out by Mother. As the Daughter of the People, she must show the civilians of Elysium, an underwater domed community separated from the dirty and war-stricken Surface Dwellers, how a real lady responds in various stressful situations in order to lead by example. But something's...not right. She begins to notice that the voice in her head telling her how wonderful everything is sounds a lot like Mother, that pieces of her memory are mysteriously absent and the memories that do return in flashes, tell a vastly different story then the one her Mother-sounding conscience would lead her to believe.The buildup for Evie's repressed memories was fantastic. I literally couldn't put down Renegade for the first half, because I just had to know how Mother was controlling Evie and her memories. As details began to surface, I read on in open-mouthed shock as the extent of Mother's madness became apparent. Conditioning, manipulation, genetic experiments - nothing was off-limits in Mother's quest for a perfectly subordinate society. While I was slightly disturbed by some of the more gruesome scenes,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.it was Mother's torture of the psyche that truly unnerved me. The ways in which she manipulated so many people, who remained oblivious to her methods, had me fearful for Evie's life for much of Renegade. Adding to the depth of Mother's psychological torture was watching Evie realize that she was not spared in Mother's experiments. Evie's gradual mistrust of Mother added so many layers to her already complex characterization, that I couldn't help but empathize with her situation. Literally everything she thought she remembered, everything she had been taught, had been a lie and had been manipulated intentionally by the person she thought she could trust the most. As Renegade's plot progressed, Evie began to realize that thanks to Mother's experiments, she couldn't even trust herself. I got so wrapped up in the psychological elements that I was oblivious to anything else that might have been happening; Souders had me completely and irrevocably wrapped around her devilishly twisted finger.Renegade's pacing was fantastic, the suspense was at an all-time high for the majority of the plot and everything that happened was logical - it made sense. The only reason Renegade is losing a star is because of the romance. It definitely crossed into insta-love territory, which surprisingly, I was able to overlook because of the extreme situation Evie and Gavin found themselves in. It wasn't hard to imagine that Evie was the most beautiful creature Gavin had ever set eyes on, creating the attraction necessary for him to develop strong feelings. And being so intrinsically tied to her self-realization, Evie's attraction to Gavin also made sense because he was present for the most important moment of her life. But even though I was able to logically make sense of their relationship, I didn't necessarily believe in their feelings for one another. It didn't take away from my reading experience necessarily, but the romance didn't add anything to Renegade for me either. So I was kind of left wondering what the point of it all was.From it's opening pages, Renegade had me under its spell. I can't remember the last time I was so on-edge while reading a book, or the last time I was so thoroughly creeped out.