Renegade by Amy Carol Reeves
Series: Ripper Trilogy #2
Genre: YA, historical fiction, paranormal
Published on April 8, 2013
Published by Flux
Read From: 7.3.13 - 7.4.13
The Conclave - a secret group with twisted ideals and freakish practices - has been wiped out, thanks to Arabella Sharp. But Abbie has no time to rest. Terrifying visions of a sea beast plague her, and strange encounters lurk around every turn. She only knows one thing for certain: there's a new malevolence afoot.
Meanwhile, fishermen are being killed, their partially devoured bodies washing up on the shores of Scotland. Is the Ripper responsible? Or have the Conclave's horrible experiments left behind something more monstrous? Drawn reluctantly into the mystery, Abbie fears the worst when her beloved Dr. William Siddal vanishes. To save the man she loves, Abbie must journey to the Orkney Isles before time runs out - putting her own life in danger as she confronts the Conclave's sinister past.
Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I don't like the character impersonator, despite its being a side profile. But the rest of the cover is rather exciting, especially with the ghostly face in the background.
Characters: In Ripper, I thought Abbie was an acceptable protagonist. She was practical, she didn't have an Attitude, she wasn't squeamish, and her emotions didn't get the better of her. At first, Abbie maintains this agreeable persona for the majority of Renegade. Until she has a falling-out with William her fiance. Before you know it, Abbie is bursting into tears every other page, flipflopping between her feelings for William and Simon, and not being very rational at all. I didn't dislike Abbie, but I got a little tired of her after a while. My good opinion of William was totally destroyed in this installment. When it's revealed that William has slept with a woman he always regarded as a mother figure, as well as another random young woman, any regard I had for him disappeared. His spiral into excessive drinking, careless attitude, and bad temper only furthered it, and he became a complete lout in my eyes. Nothing he did redeemed him. His pleas of "I was a young man" didn't stir me; that excuse is utter garbage. Men can control themselves as much as women, and it reveals a major flaw in his character. Simon, however, remained very likable, with his dependable temper, and caring, quiet personality. Then there's Seraphina - the lamia - and Max. I didn't care about Seraphina; I didn't pity her, empathize with her, or even dislike her. I simply did not care. And while Max is somewhat threatening, there is still something about him that doesn't quite meet the "awesomely creepy villain" criteria.
The Romance: "Indeed, my love for [William] was like a poison in my own blood." Abbie, (page 327) In Ripper, the love triangle was not annoying. Abbie clearly felt for William and regarded Simon as a friend. But in Renegade, when Abbie's trust in William is tested, she begins to wonder if she has feelings for Simon after all. In all honesty, I couldn't understand her dilemma. As soon as I discovered that someone I loved had a past like William's, all love for him would vanish, because clearly he isn't the man I thought he was. William is a lout, undependable, untrustworthy. Simon is the exact opposite, and a gentleman with a future ahead of him that won't be drowned in drinking and women. How can Abbie have a hard time choosing? She even admits more than once that Simon makes her feel safe; that she can talk to him about a lot of things that she can't with William. I am so tired of the safe, dependable love interest being painted as boring and too good. Guys that make you feel scared aren't a good choice for marriage; safe and dependable is.
Plot: It is 1889, and Abbie hasn't heard from Max the "Ripper" in a long while. But she knows that he's out there somewhere, just waiting to come for her, in vengeance for destroying the Conclave and his chance at immortality. In the meanwhile, Abbie has continued to work at the Whitechapel Hospital, assisting Simon and her fiance William. But then she begins to have strange visions of a lamia woman, and bodies begin to appear on the coast of Scotland. Abbie doesn't know how, but Max is responsible. She doesn't know what to do; William doesn't believe her visions are real, and when she discovers his less-than-shining past, she breaks off their engagement. Midst emotional turmoil, Abbie must stop Max from whatever dastardly plan he has, before it's too late. Renegade is sloooooow. When we're not following Abbie's narration, we follow Seraphina the lamia's story, and one would think that that would offer some action. No; instead, Seraphina's part is spent rehashing her feelings of jealousy and loneliness and her uncontrollable desire to eat people. When she's not doing that, she's painting or ripping dresses to shreds when she transforms or remembering past events. Nothing happens. Meanwhile, Abbie is struggling with her feelings for William and Simon, she has visions that don't tell her anything, she breaks down crying, she wanders the streets alone at night (which no Victorian woman would do), and then she finally figures out what's going on. Sort of. But the revelation is pretty unsurprising, because the Reader knows it already due to following Seraphina's narration. There's a brief moment of excitement when the dead start resurrecting and chomping on grave robbers. Yep, there's zombies! I was indignant about this, of course; what are zombies doing in Renegade? But it was a little exciting. Except those events take backseat very quickly - mostly because it's a setup for Book Three and therefore not this book's main focus. Sadly. Zombies might have been more interesting for once.
Believability: There were not many historical inaccuracies, but the ones that were there bothered me like a thorn in my toe. Inaccuracy Number One: Abbie would not call the butler by his Christian name. It is too familiar an address, and also disrespectful of the butler. Inaccuracy Number Two: butlers do not cook! That would be left to the maid, but Abbie's grandmother would more than likely have a cook. Inaccuracy Number Three: crinolines were well out of fashion by 1889. Inaccuracy Number Four: in Britain, "pants" are underwear. It is not a term interchangeable with "trousers." Inaccuracy Number Five: rain wouldn't ruin a revolver. Revolvers are not like flintlocks; they still work in the wet. Oh yes, we're also subjected to a rushed blood transfusion that miraculously works. I'm sorry, but that part was almost as ridiculous as a brain surgery during an alien attack in space.
Writing Style: First person, past tense. Seraphina's narrations are in third person, past tense, and they often interrupt Abbie's narration very abruptly. The historical tone was completely lacking in the narration - the dialogue and just basic style was had too modern of a structure. The Author was also too preoccupied with describing bare breasts as often as she possibly could, as well as describing Simon's angelic looks. He started to sound like Edward Cullen!! And that almost ruined his entire character for me.
Conclusion: William is kidnapped. Abbie and Simon must rescue him by traveling to Scotland and slaying the lamia. But the lamia isn't going to be so easy to defeat (even though she actually is). Armed with nothing more than a couple of knives, a sword, and revolvers that somehow got ruined by a bit of rain, they go into the lamia's lair, like Perseus on his way to defeat Medusa. Except Medusa was much more terrifying. Sophia's final showdown with Serphina just wasn't thrilling. It almost bordered on downright dull, actually. Maybe it's because Renegade didn't actually have to do with the Ripper. Maybe it's because the Author ruined William and therefore the love triangle. It could be a combination of both - and a few other niggles - that made Renegade not nearly as good as Ripper. I enjoyed at first, until I realized that it wasn't going anywhere and Abbie became rather vexing. It just didn't work for me.
Recommended Audience: Girl-read, fifteen-and-up, fans of historical paranormal.
Others in This Trilogy: