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WesternSFA
Renegade
by J.A. Souders
Tor Teen, $10.99, TPB, 364pp
Release Date: October 8, 2013

In this world, 16-year-old Evelyn lives in a utopia under the sea. Her adopted Mother created the city to protect its inhabitants from the misery and strife on the surface. Evelyn is being groomed as a Daughter of the People to contribute to the next generation with a perfect baby. She just has to settle on a Companion with whom to couple. Evelyn also has problems with her memory; occasionally she glimpses a memory that then skitters away, leaving behind tantalizing feelings. She becomes convinced that Mother is erasing memories when they become inconvenient; such as, when the boy she chooses as a Companion does not meet with Mother’s standards, both boy and Evelyn’s memories of him vanish. But there is little Evelyn can do, so she fatalistically accepts her situation.

But, then everything changes when the city is breeched by a boy from the surface. Evelyn meets and rescues the boy, Gavin, only to have him imprisoned by her Mother. But her cleverness wins him a reprieve when she convinces her Mother that outside genes would strengthen their gene pool. With the help of her only friend, Evelyn attempts to circumvent the all-knowing Mother to save Gavin and send him home. Evelyn proves extremely resourceful, for a young girl who spends her days in carefree pursuits. And, as events progress, it becomes evident even to Evelyn that her Mother is not the loving, caring person she tries to portray nor is Evelyn all that she seems.

On the run with Gavin, they find hidden information that shakes Evelyn to her core and changes all her perceptions about the city she lives in. Determined to escape Mother, Evelyn finds more skills than she knew she possessed but is challenged by memories that surface and threaten to change her personality. And Mother has one last card to play that may destroy Evelyn.

This was a fun and fast read. I enjoyed the author’s portrayal of a young girl finding hidden strengths and resolve. And the mystery behind the city’s origins and Mother’s true motivations were enough to keep me interested to the end. It didn’t end with all hearts-and-flowers but it ended well. Teen girls would appreciate this even more than me, I’d guess. ~~ Catherine Book

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