Renegades is the start of her newest trilogy, which I am admittedly very behind on. Nova Artino is not a Renegade but an Anarchist; I’ll back up. There are those with superpowers. Some violent, some practical, sometimes it ends up a perfect definition of one’s personality and other times they adapt around it. No one has the power to end the world with the snap of a finger, and law enforcement, aka the superhero squad known as The Renegades, have been successful enough to keep things working. But when Nova was just six years old, her family was assassinated because her Uncle, Ace Anarchy, couldn’t keep working with them and had to contact the Renegades for help. Well, the Renegades did not come on time, leading to growing up with a severe hate and distaste for the leadership. One of her powers allows her to never fall asleep. She never gets tired. And if she wanted, I guess she can channel a juice within her body that would normally be the poison one would get throughout their body from sleep deprivation and give it to others, making them fall asleep instantly, most often to nightmares, earning her the nickname Nightmare. Suitable to have a mask over it. Her family is The Anarchists, underground operatives who refuse to abide by the rules. Within the Renegades is Adrian, who can draw whatever he desires with his magic pen and have it come to life, and as a result his two dads got him into drawing classes so whatever he draws is legitimate. During an assassination attempt of Captain Chromium, on the part of the Anarchists, Adrian gets told a line by Nightmare that sends him chills, because he now has reason to believe she knows something about one of the biggest mysteries of his entire life.
The opening prologue is one of the most chill-inducing I’ve read in years. We don’t know why these people have broken into Nova’s apartment nor why they start shooting, but what she goes through as she’s just six years old, as well as the guilt she earns for something she didn’t do, literally, it made me monumentally angry. That was a terrific way to make me invested in yet another superhero book. There’s all these books of the most famous comic book superheroes, and a lot of people seem to like them. I’ve remained reluctant, but maybe I’ll try them out. Anyway, back to the review.
One of the best ways Meyer keeps our attention in this 550-paged book is the lingering mysteries, but also what she decides to concentrate on as tensions rise. We can tell every one of these “superheroes” has been hurt somehow, and by seeing their enemies only as those who chose the opposing position, it’s easier for them to kill, but when one goes undercover, they learn more about who their opponents really are, and garner sympathy or betrayal. Betrayal is common in young-adult books these days, but Renegades doesn’t let it slide. It shows the two demons one must face in their mind when they’re in a situation where nothing they do will not be bloody and broken. Because Meyer takes her time in us getting to know these characters enough to know their attitudes, by the time conflicts severely clash, we don’t automatically think one is being petty. We think back to how both sides have lived their lives, one under inhumane tyranny.
And here’s a surprise that we don’t often see. Adrian has two adoptive dads. Usually it’s the gay sidekick that checkmarks the progressive factor in today’s YA books, but seeing the idea as the guardians is rare, and Meyer handled it terrifically. Adrian’s two dads, Simon and Hugh, were never butting into anyone else’s concerns and were protective of their son and did not want him to be hurt either physically or reputationally. I’m looking forward to seeing their relevance in the later books. This side character, under the nickname The Librarian, ends up in the middle of an Anarchist-v-Renegade attack, and a very bad thing happens to his life’s work and his emotions rattled off me like a mirror. Meyer did a great job in reminding us of our personal treasures, the things we’ve acquired that hold historical and personal value and how some of it might sometimes be actually priceless. Then on top of that something extra bad happens to the librarian, adding permanent salt to the wound, and all of this in one mission...Yeah, there are actually few events that take place in this book. Instead, these few events are stretched out as the main storyline. It was like that in her previous Lunar Chronicles (which made me a Marissa Meyer fan), especially Scarlet and Cress. Scarlet took place over a few days in hiding while Queen Levana both demanded the apprehension of Linh Cinder and the marriage of Prince Kai. Cress took place the days before the scheduled wedding, and the big wedding is the big battle, and when that battle’s done, we’re three books done the series. But we don’t really mind because of all we end up witnessing.
The climax has a twist I told myself after I finished the book that I should’ve seen it coming, and I somehow didn’t. Maybe I was enjoying the long-shot book in-the-moment to really think about it enough.
The main criticism I had is how gullible these Renegades have to be. There are numerous obvious moments when Nova is with them that there’s something she’s not explaining, and several times during the climax where they should’ve put two and two together. I also on occasion felt like I’d already read a fair amount of it. There are times where it feels quite similar to Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners series or Red Queen. Regardless, there are much worse books to compare it to.
Renegades was released two years ago, its sequel is already out and the finale due for this November. I didn’t start the book because its length, plus the fact I loved Meyer’s previous Lunar Chronicles, frightened me into putting it off, worried a bad book would jeopardize my love for her writing. But I should’ve focused more on the latter fact, that I loved her previous books against all odds. Cause I really loved my experience with this one too.