In yet another grim, dystopian near-future, another pair of star-crossed lovers resists a megalomaniacal overlord.
Mother is Governess of Elysium, a society of blond, blue-eyed citizens who live in a small, technologically advanced underwater enclave. Mother is also the adoptive mother of protagonist Evelyn, who tends her garden and looks forward to Coupling with a genetically approved suitor. "My life," she tells readers repeatedly, "is just about perfect." But it's not. In Chapter 1, Timothy, her favorite suitor, is brutally murdered before her eyes for touching her before their coupling has been approved. In Chapter 2, she has forgotten Timothy entirely. This is good, because along comes Gavin, a Surface Dweller who has improbably stumbled into Elysium and to whom she is instantly attracted. Contrivance piles upon contrivance. Evie interrogates Gavin; Evie decides to help Gavin escape; Evie discovers that Mother has been erasing her memories selectively for years. While this last concept is undoubtedly intriguing, Souders buries it in banal dialogue, ludicrously choreographed action and a thoroughly tedious romance. She offers little worldbuilding to compensate, leaving readers almost entirely unmoored (except for the inevitable diary, discovered right when the plot needs it).
As the bodies pile up, readers should join Evie in her dawning horror at what Mother has wrought; instead, those who have stuck with her will just be dying to escape. (Dystopian romance. 12-16)