No spoilers in this rapid review of Renegades by Marissa Meyer. I give it 3 stars. I had high expectations for this book. Meyer worked her magic with her previous book, Heartless, and it now resides on my favorites list. And The Lunar Chronicles was a fun, original series in which the finale was the best book of them all. I felt like Meyer was on fire and couldn’t miss. I was wrong. And I don’t think Renegades suffered from my high expectations. I’ve looked at it objectively and truly feel like it’s just average.
Renegades tells the story of two opposing troupes of superheroes: the Renegades and the Anarchists. Nova (aka Nightmare and Insomnia) is an Anarchist. Rebels killed her family when she was young, and the Renegades didn’t come to save her. Her uncle raised her in the Anarchist clan, which is bent on taking away the Renegades’ authority and taking over as the ruling class. Adrian (aka Sketch and the Sentinel) is a Renegade. His parents are on the Council, the governing body of the superheroes. He knows the Renegades do much good but is beginning to see some faults in their rules and decisions.
The Anarchists ask Nova to infiltrate enemy ranks by participating in the Trials, a test of superhero skill to choose new Renegade members. Adrian conscripts Nova to be part of his team after hearing how she doesn’t require sleep and witnessing her skills in the ring at the Trial. (He may also be remembering her from a chance meeting in their recent past in which she intrigued him.) 😉 As a part of Adrian’s team, will Nova be able to discover some of the Renegades’ secrets and begin to plot their demise? Will she gain empathy for the friends she makes along the way? Where will her true loyalties lie when all is said and done?
This sounds like a great set-up, right? I enjoyed parts of the book, especially when Nova teamed up with Adrian’s group and new friendships began to develop. Adrian was my favorite character, followed closely by Max, a mysterious little boy who lives at Renegades headquarters. In my opinion, these two had the coolest, most useful superhero skill sets, too.
I also liked the inner conflict both Nova and Adrian experienced. They were raised in cultures with absolutes, namely their clan of superheroes is absolutely right and the opposing clan is absolutely wrong. But as they start to think for themselves, they grapple with what their own truth is. As readers, we face the ambiguity of who the good guys and who the bad guys truly are, which is probably the book’s greatest strength. And Meyer’s crisp writing style is always pleasing.
But overall, I was hoping for more. The pacing dissatisfied me from the beginning. The book opens with a fun scene at a parade organized by the Renegades. The Anarchists are hidden along the parade route to attack. But Meyer threw a barrage of information at us as she guided us along the route. She introduced us to so many superheroes and provided us with so much background information that I was overwhelmed. I ended up mentally tallying and recording all of the characters’ names and alter-egos in an effort to keep them straight instead of enjoying their fun, unique powers. The middle of the book moved at a moderate pace at best. And that surprise ending I’d heard alluded to before I even started Renegades? I guessed the surprise from the beginning, and I’m not someone who routinely guesses plot twists.
I’m bummed I didn’t love Meyer’s latest work! Nevertheless, I recommend Renegades to Meyer fans. As I’m sure many YA readers would agree, Meyer is an auto-read author for me after establishing herself so well in her earlier works. Thus I will read book 2 in this series to see if some of my outstanding questions about these heroes are answered. Hopefully Meyer will reward me for the time I invested in these characters with quicker pacing, more action, and a bigger payoff. If you haven’t read any of her books, I recommend shelving Renegades for now and starting with either The Lunar Chronicles series or Heartless instead.
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