Book Review: RENEGADES
Also by this author: Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2), Heartless
Published by Feiwel & Friends on November 7th 2017
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Goodreads. All opinions are my own.
Is there anything worse that having one of your most anticipated reads of the year not live up to expectations? Because that’s what happened to me with Marissa Meyer’s Renegades. Generally speaking, I LOVE Meyer’s books. The Lunar Chronicles and Heartless have been some of my favorite reads from recent years, so when I heard she was coming out with another new series and that it was filled with superheroes and villains, my expectations were sky high. Perhaps, too high. I don’t know if I just built up expectations in my mind that were unrealistic or what, but for me, Renegades was just an average good read. It wasn’t bad by any stretch – I definitely still enjoyed it and am interested in continuing the series – but it just didn’t blow me away like every other Meyer book I’ve read thus far. So yeah, I was a little disappointed.
The premise behind Renegades is that it focuses on a group called Prodigies. Prodigies are humans who have some kind of super powers. Some of the prodigies become Anarchists, which are basically villains, while others join the Renegades, which are the heroes. Needless to say, these two groups do no play well together. The story itself is set during a time when society as we know it has basically come apart at the seams. The Anarchists, who thrive on chaos, have taken advantage of the situation and deemed themselves in charge, thus creating even more instability and chaos as they run roughshod over those without powers. That is, until they are challenged and defeated by the Renegades. The Renegades restore some semblance of law and order and become a symbol of hope for the people.
When the novel opens, the Renegades are firmly in charge and are actually being celebrated with a parade through the city, while the Anarchists have been relegated to living in abandoned subway tunnels. The Anarchists are not finished, however, and are actively planning how to get vengeance on their enemies. At the crux of their plan is a young woman named Nova. Nova, known in Anarchist circles as Nightmare, has been tasked with infiltrating the Renegades as a new recruit. Why? So as to learn as much about the Renegades’ inside operations as possible, which should in turn make it easier to take them down. Nova is not only up to the task, but she is highly motivated to defeat the Renegades because she holds the Renegades responsible for the murders of everyone in her family.
Once Nova infiltrates the Renegades, however, she meets Adrian, a fellow Renegade who immediately takes a liking to her. And as if that doesn’t put enough of a kink into Nova’s plan, Adrian is also on a mission of his own that could potentially put them at odds. Adrian is seeking justice for his mother, who was murdered by an Anarchist, and he, ironically enough, is actively searching for the Anarchist Nightmare (a.k.a. Nova) because he believes she holds the key to the murderer’s identity.
Will Adrian realize that Nightmare is basically hiding right under his nose posing as a Renegade or will Nova be able to maintain her secret identity?
Marissa Meyer has brought to life two fascinating main characters in Nova and Adrian. Nova is an Anarchist, while Adrian is a Renegade. However, even though they are at opposite ends of the hero-villain spectrum, they still have a lot in common, namely that they are both living double lives and keeping secrets from those around them. I loved the complexity that the double lives added to each of these characters.
In addition to enjoying watching Nova and Adrian attempt to pull off these secret lives without revealing themselves, I also just found both of these characters extremely likeable and was therefore very sympathetic to both of their plights. Adrian’s mother was murdered by an Anarchist and he desperately wants justice for her even if he has to work outside of the confines of being a Renegade to do so. Nova’s entire family was killed right in front of her when she was a child and she feels betrayed by the Renegades who she had believed would show up and save them all but who didn’t show up at all until it was too late. Even though I might not agree with the idea of seeking vengeance, I can understand why Nova feels the way she does, just as I can understand why Adrian is so determined to track down any leads he can when it come to his mother’s murder.
Aside from Nova and Adrian themselves, what I enjoyed most about Renegades were the superpowers that Meyer has envisioned for all of the Prodigies in the novel. The powers themselves were unique and so exciting to watch in action. The action sequences as each character was called on to unleash their powers were some of my favorite moments of the book. If you’re a fan of Marvel, the X-Men, and other similar superhero stories, you would probably really enjoy this aspect of Renegades as well. I thought it was especially brilliant that Adrian can use his power, the ability to sketch something and then somehow bring it to life, to actually draw additional powers for his secret super hero identity. It’s almost as though he’s able to give himself an upgrade via ink.
My biggest issues with Renegades were the uneven pacing and what felt like too much filler information. While I did fly through some sections of the book, there were many other places where I felt that the descriptions were just heavy handed and filled with unnecessary details that bogged the story down. One slow area that comes to mind was when Nova first infiltrates Renegade Headquarters as a new recruit. She is given a lengthy, in-depth tour of the facilities. After the tour, we are then given a surprisingly long description of Nova being presented with and trying on her new uniform, followed by a discussion about how it fits and how it will be sent off to a tailor for a better fit. I just kept thinking the entire time I was reading that what took pages and pages could have been wrapped up easily in a few paragraphs. Because the book itself is so huge, I was very tuned in to descriptive passages like that one. At over 500 pages, I’m always going to be one who begins to question what feels like extraneous information.
I also didn’t feel like I really got to know the secondary characters very well. While I thought all of the superpowers of both the Renegades and the Anarchists were unique and very impressive, I just felt like the characters themselves fell kind of flat. Most of the time I couldn’t even remember the names of Nova’s Renegades teammates or her fellow Anarchists.
As much as I enjoyed the overall storyline, I think if some of the descriptions had been pared down a bit and the secondary characters had been better fleshed out, this would have been a 4 star read for me.
Even though Renegades fell short of my expectations, I still think it’s a solid read that fans of superhero/villain stories would definitely enjoy. The superhero powers are amazing, the action scenes are fun and exciting, and the two main characters are just so easy to find yourself rooting for. While I would have liked more character development for the secondary characters and less wordy descriptions throughout, Renegades has still enticed me enough that I want to follow the series and see what happens to Nova and Adrian.
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.