Renegade is a dystopian post-apocalyptic tale similar in theme to "The Handmade's Tale" but much smaller in scope. Overall the book itself is written in a very straightforward and workmanlike manner. No fancy or long-winded prose but it efficiently gets the point across and the plot flows briskly.
It follows the adventures of Alex, a survivor of a mysterious 'Red Death' that kills off most of the human race. Her attempts to find other survivors lead her to danger, lasting friendships and a seemingly impossible love. The problem is, for all the training she got from her dad, Alex isn't very good at reading people, nor is she very tactful or careful, and sometimes her actions are just plain dumb, which was infuriating at times. None of these detracted from my enjoyment of the book, however, as Alex is young and brash, and basically, who wouldn't be this confused in a similarly desperate situation. The author's depiction of this bleak and violent dystopian world and its resulting power imbalances is not far-fetched, though somewhat simplistic. But her smart choice to limit the breadth of the book to a small subset of this world lets the author focus on telling the story of the two women's struggle, making the book very appealing and enjoyable to lesfic genre readers.
Like I said, I loved the book until the last 5%. This is the point where the author has wrote her characters into such a corner that there seems to be no way out. At least not in the time frame that they needed to effect their escape. But maybe because she's running out of pages to tell her story, she chose to use what for me was a deus ex machina to solve their dilemma. Okay, maybe keener readers might have seen it, but I didn't (I was somewhat distracted, lol). But nonetheless, another 20 or so pages would probably have sufficed to illuminate the reader on why it happened the way it did. Also there were some instances when logic was sacrificed for the requisite romance and erotic scenes. I also didn't like that for all the build-up and the feminist tone of the book, it felt like our heroines did very little in the end to bring about their own fate and had to rely on a man to save them. The awful thing was they were hardly trying and too busy being in love. And that goes for both MCs. I was particularly disappointed in Evelyn. The brave and headstrong doctor was amazing--standing up to the bullies despite being their virtual prisoner, fighting for other women's rights even at her own peril. I had high hopes for Evelyn. She was strong, resilient and smart but in the end, she was just an emotional mess. Pregnancy hormones maybe? Or falling hopelessly in love? The end is quite a bit of a letdown. Maybe if the author hadn't raised my expectations so high...
In summary, this is just another above average, enjoyable lesfic read. Dark and gritty, with a sprinkling of cute and romantic and a good mix of action. Well-balanced for a genre romance, but it could have been better.
Received ARC copy from Netgalley.