Hopefully Renegades two, “Archenemies,” is better than its predecessor


Book cover of “Renegades” and the sequel “Archenemies” http://twincitiesgeek.com/2018/10/5-questions-for-marissa-meyer-to-answer-in-archenemies/

Alexis Rosko, Contributing Writer

Having previously read “Heartless” by Marissa Meyer, when “Renegades” was released in 2017, I could not wait to get my hands on it. Now, a year later, the second book in the trilogy, “Archenemies” was released, so to refresh people’s memories, here is a review of the first book.

“Renegades” is a young adult science fiction novel. The book focuses on a society with prodigies, people who have extraordinary abilities. The Renegades are a group of prodigies that saved Gatlon City from the Age of Anarchy, where chaos and criminal gangs prevailed. The Renegades run the city, pride themselves on justice and are a symbol of hope for civilians, but not for the Anarchists they overthrow.

Nova is an Anarchist. Her family was assassinated by a gang when she was a child and the Renegades, who she was assured would save them, didn’t show up. Her power to put people to sleep was the reason she survived. Her uncle Ace Anarchy, the leader of the Anarchists, came to rescue her, but was later killed in the Battle of Gatlon. All of which she blames the Renegades for. On her path to vengeance, she meets Adrian, a Renegade dedicated to justice. As their journey unfolds, relationships are tested and allegiances are questioned.

My main problem with the writing was the inconsistency of the pacing. At the beginning of the novel it seemed like Meyer could not decide which direction she wanted to take the story. The pacing was very rushed and was reminiscent of a comic book, but she also had a lot of exposition and drawn out dialogue that was more like a coming-of-age story. As the book progressed, the story slowed down and it looked like Meyer had made up her mind, but some moments were still rushed. She could have removed some of the dialogue and exposition to shorten the novel and keep the reader’s attention better.

The beginning few chapters were very confusing because many characters were introduced at once. Adrian’s team of Renegades and the Anarchists are almost all introduced over the span of a chapter. However, as the story progresses it becomes easier to differentiate them. They all have a backstory that is introduced to the reader and they all become very fleshed out, even the minor ones. The characters are more than superheroes. Their superhero identities are very separate from who they are as people, and it is their qualities as people that make them much more relatable.

Also, the relationships are all developed well. The conflict between the Renegades and the Anarchists that began ten years prior to the start of the novel, during the Age of Anarchy, and the reasoning behind the conflict is explained thoroughly. Nova’s view of the Renegades is probably the most elaborate relationship in the novel. Starting from her childhood, when they didn’t show up to save her family, and changing as the novel progresses, her perspective on the Renegades is complicated. Then there is the romance between Nova and Adrian. It defies the instalove trope and is an extremely slow burn. While nothing much happens between them, you know you want them together.

The representation in the novel could improve but is still better than many others. Dread Warden and Captain Chromium, Adrian’s Dads who are leading figures of the Renegades, are an important representation of LGBTQ individuals. They aren’t portrayed as stereotypical, or flamboyant, they are shown as a normal family, which is essential to show in today’s society where stereotypes can be common misconceptions that falsely portray individuals. However, the book could do better when it comes to racial diversity. In a released poster, Adrian is shown to be black, but I do not believe this was said in the book. Even so, the rest of the characters severely lack racial diversity.

The premise of this novel is very interesting and Meyer does a great job developing the story. Even though it may seem every superhero possibility has been exhausted by Marvel or DC, Meyer’s concept is in no way reminiscent of anything I’ve seen. The book showcases the idea that the villain is always the hero of their own story, and there is no clear-cut good or evil. The Anarchists should be the obvious villains but that’s not always clear. At some points both the characters and I were questioning the Renegades and how they were running Gatlon City. Meyer also develops the idea that evil is not necessarily born or inherited. All the Anarchists have a specific reason to hate the Renegades and act based on that reason.

The book had its execution problems and lacked diversity, but it was an entertaining read nonetheless. It was good but not the super read I was looking for. However, the entertainment value and the concept were good enough for me to want to continue the series, so hopefully these issues will be fixed in the second book.