Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Renegades [Renegades #1] - Marrissa Meyer

Title - Renegades
Author - Marissa Meyer


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.


Where do I begin with this book?

It's been a long time since I read a YA book that could be considered an archetype of its genre, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with Renegades. For one, superheroes are my absolute JAM, and seeing a teenage perspective of a post-catastrophic superhero emergence seemed like an interesting take on the comic universe. And for another, while I haven’t read enough of Meyer’s books to be considered a fan, I did really like Cinder so I knew Meyer could carry a story alright.

Reading the first half of this book gave me a painful case of déjà vu; I mean, a group of supervillains rebelling against an oppressive regime of non-powered people who treat "prodigies" like a sub-human species while an opposing force of superheroes constantly clash with them to save the "normal" people – this pretty much screamed X-Men to me. I mean there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the Anarchists from this book and the Brotherhood of Mutants from X-men. Even their respective leaders, Ace and Magneto, seem like a derivative of each other – both are rebel leaders with ability to move things with their mind and a cool helmet that magnifies their power.

The characterisation of Nova is borderline Mary Sue - for one she is called Nova, I mean seriously? She is ridiculously good at fighting, taking on people who are a lot better trained and bigger than she is on a regular basis. She is super smart, super good at her new job that she is completely untrained for, and she has a tragic sob story to wrap it all up in a neat little bow so you don’t dig any deeper as to why she is the way she is. I understand her ability (read the book to find out what it is 😉) gives her an advantage over the average person in terms of learning new skills, but I am unconvinced that a six year old was building a hydraulic pressured lift for a doll house. Just saying. I am also not a massive fan of Adrian as a character - I think what Meyer was aiming for was someone driven, trying to figure out the person responsible for the tragic event in his life while maintaining the ideals of what it is like to be a superhero, but what came across is an obsessive and insubordinate character who would just as easily break his own ideologies as follow them, all the while preaching about the virtues of his kind.

I am also completely unconvinced with the romance subplot in this book. Nova is indecisive and in a constant battle over where her loyalties lie, and the primary driver of this somewhat annoying behaviour is Adrian. We are expected to believe that five minutes after joining their team, Nova is wavering in her convictions that she has apparently had her whole life. Surprise surprise, a girl questions all her beliefs as soon as she meets a man. Plus, I usually don’t have the patience for that nihilistic "the world would be better if none of us existed" crap. You don’t get to spend your whole life fighting the establishment and attempting to validate your existence against all odds only to dissolve that same fight with one throwaway comment about how the non-powered folks would be better off without you.

So. I know I have been rather scathing with this review so far, but I do actually have a lot of good things to say about it. I really liked the casual inclusion of an LGBT couple without the unnecessary fanfare that usually follows these things; the main character was described as half Italian/Filipino; and one of the main supporting characters was permanently disabled, so the diversity in this book is pretty good.

Diversity and representation aside, there are a few other things I really liked about the book. I thought the vast variety of the powers in this book were fairly unique - I was especially excited about Adrian’s power and the unique way Meyer handled him. I think the story on the whole was okay: it wasn’t fantastic and I don’t think it’s going to be the book that starts the YA genre on the road to superheroism, but I also don’t think it’s going to be used as the cautionary tale. It keeps you mostly engaged through a somewhat clichéd but fun plot, and it gets the job done.

I realise that I have said a lot more negative things than I planned, but honestly, this book was just a little "meh" for me. The ending was great, but the story felt like I’ve seen it before. It was just okay, so I think I’m going to give it 3 out of 5. I’ll probably read the next one but I won’t be running to the book store the moment it comes out.

Product Details
Hardcover, 556 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Language: English
Author's Website:

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