Renegades #1. Author: Marissa Meyer.
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 the villains who have the power to end them both.
I think we’ve all been waiting to find out what epic twist Marissa Meyer was going to put on the classic superhero schema. Sure, the plot sounded totally cliche, but obviously she had secrets up her sleeve.
Wrong. Completely, utterly, trustingly mistaken. The world-setting/backstory bears staggering resemblance to Steelheart (which Marietta first pointed out), the superpowers are no different than anything Marvel might introduce, and the romance is thread-bare and tired.
Here’s the thing: I love Meyer’s other books and characters. They’re inventive, relatable, and fun. So just what steamroller ran over the characters this time and squished them all paper-flat? Nova is half-heartedly villainous. Ready to kill but, you know, not quite ready to pull the trigger. Believing that Ace and his gang were doing the right thing and that the Renegades deserve to be torn down – but wait no my handsome new Renegade Friend doesn’t actually deserve to be hurt. She’s definitely still an Anarchist. Probably. Maybe. As long as Ace doesn’t give her that one look or touch her wrist or – gasp – carry her to safety again.
Ace is somewhat rebellious. Sneaking off to invent his own superhero persona in secrecy. Chasing down secrets and anarchists despite orders to the contrary. But he’s fully indoctrinated in the renegade creed, with no conception of the contrary ideas Nova harbors, and they’re definitely doing the right thing. He probably chose Nova for his team because she’s cute, and he’s definitely ignoring suspicious moments where she failed to hide her identity properly.
There ought to be conflict here. Forget about the Anarchist/Renegade fight going on, this is full blown Man vs. Self plotting all by itself. And yet. There’s a difference between inner conflict and what’s popularly called ‘angst’, and while it can be hard to agree on that line sometimes, I would call all the contradictions in these characters angst. I never felt Nova’s trauma, from the deaths she lived through as a child. Never saw the two sides she plays, the Renegade side growing more and more real all the time, tearing her in half.
I believe the Renegades series is supposed to be a dualogy, which somewhat explains the nonsensical ending – but even so, there should have been rising tension. A plot arc of some sort, even if it was half of one. I never saw that. Seeing other reviews complain about the length before, I thought that was just personal taste, because I read huge books all the time; but the thing is, huge books should have correspondingly long/intricate/detailed plots. Renegades really could have been half the length, the more so given that the side-characters are barely fleshed out.
Sexual Content: Kid says his parents hooked up briefly after one saved the other, and separated before his mother knew she was pregnant.
Language: 2 hell, 2 d***
Violence: Three people are shot (killed) in front of a child. There’s several instances of hand-to-hand fighting: punching, elbowing, flipping, super-hero style. In one of these fights one character stabs another, and one girl is badly burned. ‘Puppeteer’ villain uses his power to control small children in a riot, and some of them are hurt: this is mentioned only in passing, and specific injuries are not described. Character sets off a major explosion, and several characters are very nearly trapped in the ensuing rubble/flames, but no one’s seriously hurt in the end. Character shoots man in the head. Child accidentally impales his hand on a shard of glass.
Other: There’s one m/m homosexual couple, who make multiple appearances.