Review – Renegades

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

“As long as there are superheroes, there will be people who rely on them far too much. I think humanity would be better off if there were no prodigies at all.”

Nova is an Anarchist – a girl on a mission for vengeance after the heroes sworn to protect her family failed her.
Adrian is a Renegade – a boy with extraordinary abilities who believes in justice, and in Nova.

They should be sworn enemies, but Nova finds herself torn between Adrian and the Renegades, and a villain that could destroy them both.

There are many dangerous people in this world, but there are also many good people. Brave people. No matter how bad things get, we have to remember that. So long as there are heroes in this world, there’s hope that tomorrow night might be better.

This had a lot of hype when it was first released, and I avoided it for a while – but I fell in love with the UK paperback cover and picked it up a while ago, then of course I let it sit on my shelves for ages before actually getting round to reading it, but I’m really glad I finally did!

The story follows Nova and Adrian, who are two people with special abilities (prodigies) who are part of opposing teams of superheroes. Nova is an Anarchist, one the fractured remains of a group that once held power, but are now working against the Renegades to get revenge for the death of their leader. Adrian is a Renegade, recently trained and excited to lead his team by helping people and rooting out the last of the Anarchists.

Then after a failed assassination attempt Nova is chosen to infiltrate the Renegades by becoming one of them, and is assigned to Adrian’s team to learn about their organisation from the inside, and find a way to take them down, all while keeping her cover and trying her best to protect the remaining Anarchists as the net closes around them.

It’s a terrible shame he’s a Renegade, isn’t it? Otherwise, you could have asked him to stay for dinner.

My initial thought was that this book was cheesy as hell, but somehow this really works and I loved it.

I particularly liked the fact that a number of the various prodigies didn’t have the ‘traditional’ superpowers (flight, invisibility, healing etc) that you often see in comics or movies, which gives a much wider scope for the story. Nova’s ability is that she doesn’t sleep, but can put others to sleep with her touch. Adrian can make his drawings come to life, rising out of the page to be used. Other abilities include being able to create weapons from blood, summoning and controlling smoke, control over bees, hornets and wasps, and turning people into mindless puppets. The Renegade Council have the more usual superpowers, but it’s cool to see something different being used.

The story focuses on both Nova and Adrian, giving a really well rounded view of what’s going on with both the Renegades and the Anarchists. It’s written in third person so you don’t have to deal with constantly changing POVs, but you still get to see both sides. I also liked the switch between ‘good’ and ‘evil’, and I think the book does a good job of demonstrating that each side believes themselves to be the heroes, even though they have totally opposite views. The fact that it looks at the concept of anarchy is interesting too, because even though there are a vast number of dystopian novels out there (especially in YA), very few of them focus on what caused the world to reach the state it was in, and even fewer actually have active anarchists as a main part of the story, which makes this book even more unique.

It became the strong against the weak, and, as it turns out, the strong were usually jerks.

Of course, there are some issues. It is very cheesy, a lot of the ‘superhero dialogue’ is so cliche it’s actually painful to read, and a lot of the prodigies (especially the Renegade Council) seem to be direct copies of the X-Men or other well known superheroes. It takes a while to really get going, as there is a lot of ‘scene-setting’, and the whole book does just feel like a set-up for the next one, although I understand that Marissa Meyer often takes a while to build up her series (the only other book I’ve read of hers is Cinder, and common opinion seems to be that The Lunar Chronicles get better the further in you get). I saw the ‘big reveal’ at the end coming from a mile off, but I’m not mad, as I think this does set up the next one quite well.

All in all, I really enjoyed Renegades. Is it the best written book with the strongest plot in the world? No. Will I be continuing the series? Absolutely! It was a great divergence from the usual YA ‘hero’ stories, and was genuinely very funny in parts. I liked Nova and Adrian as characters, and am interested to see if Meyer can continue the great start she’s made.

Now we’re talking. Let’s go be superheroes!

Renegades by Marissa Meyer
Published 2017 by Macmillan Children’s Books
Read June 2018


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