I’m a long time fan of Marissa Meyer’s – back when I originally started reviewing books her first book, Cinder, was one of the hottest books of the year (I even have an old advanced readers copy of the sequel, Scarlet, kicking around somewhere). I found the Cinder series to be a fresh take on fairy tale retellings with good pacing and well built characters. Renegades held a lot of appeal to me – I’m a sucker for anything to do with superheros. While this book didn’t quite live up to my expectations, it was still a fun read that sets up the trilogy well.
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.
One thing I hadn’t anticipated with this book is how cartoon-ish the writing style is. It is a big departure from the style I’m used to from Meyer, and it was a big reason that it took me a while to really get into this book. It’s clear she was aiming for a classic comic book style, which kind of came of campy and watered down the big emotional moments. I predict that this style will be pretty polarizing for anyone picking up the book – you’re either going to be able to get into it, or you’ll put this book down pretty quickly. The book is told in alternating point of view: those of Nova and Adrian. It was a fun way to play up the differences between the heroes and the villains and really drive home the us-vs-them mentality of their society.
The plot of this book was a genuinely fun ride. It built out the world pretty well – though having a society where select people have superpowers is nothing new (ahem, X-Men). Renegades didn’t bring anything particularly new or fresh to the basic concept of superheros, but it set the stage efficiently and didn’t wait long to get straight into the action. What I really appreciated was that I could see where both the heroes and villains are coming from and the line between them and who was right or wrong was pretty blurry. Plus – the plot was well paced and had no shortage of action.
Nova and Adrian were by far the best characters of this book. They stood on opposite sides, but their chemistry was off the charts. Also, both grew through the course of the book and came to be at least a little more empathetic. They grew together as an impact of their relationship, which just made them all the more compelling to read about. Some of the secondary characters (namely the villains and the superhero high counsel) were a little too over the top and stuck a little too close to the comic book stereotypes for my taste. I also would have enjoyed more subplots in the book – the focus was pretty much solely on the main plot and as a consequence, some of the side characters got very little definition.
Altogether this was a pretty good book once I got into it. Getting into the writing style can be a bit tricky, but once you do the story and the characters make for a pretty good time. I’d recommend this for anyone who likes superheros and wants a change of pace from Marvel or DC. 4/5.