Book Review: Marissa Meyer Revamps The Superhero Genre in RENEGADES

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THE LUNAR CHRONICLES author brings new twists to a popular genre in RENEGADES!

Marissa Meyer is back and she’s bringing her clever, action-packed storytelling to a whole new world in Renegades, the first book in a planned duology that dives into the realm of superheroes and supervillains wrestling for control.

When Nova Artino’s family was murdered, the Renegades didn’t come to save them like they promised. Instead, Nova had to use her own strengths to save herself, and she’s been living on that mentality ever since. Raised by the last remaining Anarchists in the city of Gatlon, Nova is better known as Nightmare, the newest and most mysterious of the group. But when her first major mission goes awry, Nova is forced into an unfathomable task: She must go undercover with the do-gooder Renegades and report their weaknesses back to the Anarchists.

The leader of her Renegade team is Adrian Everhart, the son of three Renegade founders– his late birth mother and his adoptive dads. Much to Nova’s chagrin, Adrian truly believes in the Renegades and their intentions as an organization. He wants to prove himself, to make the community better, and to stop The Anarchists. Oh, and he’s on a personal mission to track down a new Anarchist named Nightmare– yup, that’s Nova!

Heroes versus villains is such a classic concept and it’s easy to assume that in the Marvel-DC hero wars of the modern day, you’ve seen this story before. The opening scene embraces that shticky feel of old, complete with tacky banter and zany hijinks. But you’d be grossly underestimating Marissa Meyer to believe that’s the real story. The characters have rich depth and personal dogmas, the society rests on a precarious balance, and everything is not nearly as simple as it seems.

For instance, Gatlon is filled with prodigies with super powers, but not everyone can be a Renegade. Some of the outcasted powers are quite useful, but the people aren’t interested in practicality. They want their heroes and protectors to be entertaining. Of course, this also leads the characters to dig into the question of who should be in charge of a society and why. Being powerful and beloved doesn’t necessarily mean the Renegades should be running the government, after all. Meyer infuses complexity and critical thinking into a novel that could be bubblegum pop one-liners and explosions, and you’ll be thankful for the ways in which she’s tinkered with the genre while still maintaining the action.

Nova is a really interesting character to follow, as you sympathize with her and worry for her, but you don’t necessarily root for her. She’s sharp and compelling, but I wish I had a better understanding as to why she constantly supports the Anarchist ideology other than her childhood vendetta. The Anarchists aren’t popcorn villains– they destroy, they terrorize, they even sometimes kill. Nova recognizes the evil in their methods, but still can’t see past her hatred of the Renegades. Perhaps it’s just that the evil you know is better than the evil you don’t? Either way, we liked her resourcefulness, sass, her near-misses, and those quiet moments when we see her internal conflict.

Adrian is the more pure character as such, it’s a little easier to warm up to him. He’s got secrets of his own, of course, and serves as a shining example of how good intentions can go awry. Still, he’s the character who gives you those warm, sweet moments and makes you smile throughout. The two are supplemented by a crew of devoted Renegades and Anarchists alike. I especially loved Oscar and Ruby, two members of Adrian’s team that get in on all the book’s best moments and might actually be the novel’s OTP, and Imogen, a wildcard Anarchist who doubts Nova’s dedication to the cause.

If there was one disappointment I had with the novel, it’s the heavy hinting involved. There are plenty of mysteries within the story and to some degree, we imagine readers are meant to suspect connections that the characters themselves haven’t figured out in order to achieve a sense of urgency and anticipation. But the puzzle pieces are thrown out there so many times that it almost got a little frustrating that the characters hadn’t put them together yet.

While we don’t think it’s her strongest novel, Marissa Meyer fans will be enthralled by Nova and Adrian’s perilous city, their blossoming relationship, and their dark secrets. The story is rich and offers up something for everyone, regardless of whether or not you enjoy the typical superhero fare. Be sure to check it out!

RATING: 4.25 OUT OF 5 STARS

Renegades is out today. You can order it now via Amazon.

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

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Kait is a New Englander with a background in Journalism who loves to blog her little heart out about her favorite books, movies, and shows. Her other favorites include her pets, outrageous socks, red velvet, and traveling. Catch her on Twitter: @kaitmary

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