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.
Anyone that knows me is aware of my love for the DC superhero TV shows, so when I heard of Renegades by Marissa Meyer I just had to pick it up for the reason that being able to read a superhero story that is not in the format of a graphic novel is quite rare.
Renegades follows Nova, an Anarchist seeking vengeance against the superhero organisation that runs Gatlon City, and Adrian, one of the Renegades from the organisation and the son of one of its leaders. Nova joins the organisation to take them down from the inside, and ends up being appointed to join Adrian’s team.
As you’d expect from a story consisting of heroes and villains, this novel is full of excitement, secret identities, fighting, and extraordinary powers. I found it to be extremely addictive, and despite its length it was quick to read and filled with lots of action that kept both the pace going and me at the edge of my seat.
The backstory of the Age of Anarchy and the Anarchist movement was compelling. I appreciated how it was established early on in the novel but was not presented in a sudden bulk of information just to ensure that the story line made sense to readers, but rather the author thought about it thoroughly and it fitted in well with where the story was at. I would have liked to gain a little more insight regarding the motivations and lives of the main villains as many of them seemed a bit too 2D, but as this is the first novel in a series perhaps this is to come in later instalments.
I loved Nova as a character, she was complex and was a great representation of a morally grey character. Despite the fact that she has ulterior motives for becoming a Renegade unbeknownst to her team and uses her extraordinary abilities to cause harm, throughout the novel we see her inner conflict between wanting to complete the task she has set out to do and genuinely wanting to help her team as she grows closer to them.
The themes regarding how good and bad isn’t strictly black and white is moreover discussed in how the Renegades are sometimes seen to be tempted to bend the rules in order to stop a worse evil. This, of course, is an issue in an organisation that is portrayed to be all good and fair in their leadership. Adrian particularly struggles with this; whilst his intentions are always pure, his determination sometimes leads him to consider actions that would be frowned upon. I too loved his character and his sweetness.
Similar to my opinions regarding the villains, the other superhero characters (such as the rest of Adrian’s team, for example) also felt a little underdeveloped as I sometimes got confused between them. However, I do find this to be an issue for me in books with a large cast of characters, so I’m aware that it’s probably more of a me problem rather than a fault of this book. But nonetheless I still would have liked to develop a closer connection with them.
I was fascinated by the unique powers that Meyer created for the villains and prodigies, as they were not the typical super speed or the ability to fly that I was somewhat expecting. Instead, Nova has the ability to send people to sleep and also cannot sleep herself, whatever Adrian draws becomes a real object, someone can create and disperse bombs, another can turn into a flock of butterflies, and the list of extraordinary powers goes on. It’s easy to tell that the author must have spent so much time coming up with these abilities and weaving them into the plot, and they certainly add another level of intricacy to the novel.
Moreover, I loved the family dynamics. The contrast between how Adrian was raised by two superhero fathers and how Nova was raised by a group of villains was insightful; the little glimpses we get to see from their memories really helped their characterisation and, as a reader, understanding of why they hold the beliefs that they do. I was glad to find out Nova’s backstory regarding why she is an anarchist who despises the Renegades as early on as we did, as knowing her motives at a basic level made the story much easier to follow. However, what I didn’t quite agree with was how Nova, in every other aspect, is portrayed to be quite an objective person, and so part of me doesn’t fully understand why after all these years she still hasn’t realised that, whilst her feelings are valid, her anger is not going to achieve the justice she wants, and those she is blaming are not the ones directly at fault. It was just somewhat frustrating.
Overall I utterly enjoyed this book. I knew that I was going to love the story line, but I wasn’t expecting the execution to be all that great if I’m honest. However, Meyer definitely proved that a great superhero story does not need to be presented in a visual format, and I am very much looking forward to picking Archenemies up soon.