Book Review – Renegades (Marissa Meyer)

About

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Renegades is the first book in Meyer’s Renegades series. It was published in 2017 and currently holds a 4.15 on Goodreads.

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.

Genres: YA / Fantasy / Sci-Fi / Superheroes

Format Used: Audiobook, read by Rebecca Soler and Dan Bittner

Length: 16h 58m

My Rating: 3.5 (see details below)

My Thoughts

As a fan of the Lunar Chronicles, I was really excited to see what Meyer’s could create outside of the fairytale framework. In Renegades, she relies instead on the tropes of superhero stories to explore the complexities of good and evil. In a world dominated by Prodigies (people with superhuman powers), Nova was raised by super-villains that call themselves Anarchists; only, they strongly believe they are doing good by trying to destroy the Renegades, the super-heroes that control the world. But, when Nova goes undercover to infiltrate the Renegades, it becomes clear that they too are doing what they think is best for everyone. But, some of their plans may be as sinister as the villains.

The book does a good job at demonstrating the old adage, everyone is the hero of their own story. All of the characters are sincere in their motivations – make the world a better place. Where they differ is in the details. The POV shifts back and forth between Nova (the Anarchist pretending to be a Renegade), and Adrian (the actual Renegade). This is a really clever way to cram in two opposing perspectives on any given situation. I also really liked that Adrian has two dads, and their relationship is normalized.

However, the book spent so much time focusing on setting up and exploring the ideologies of the two camps, that there wasn’t a whole lot of room for character growth. Neither character feels significantly altered by the end of the book, which was a bit of a let down for me. It certainly felt like a story was being set up, rather than delivering a self-contained narrative. This is what I have against reading book series. While some are really well done, with each part having its own resolution; more often than not, stories get dragged out or laid out in a way designed to maximize sales rather than to optimize storytelling. It feels like a compromise, and I’m not always willing to make it.

That said, I’m not overly eager to grab book 2. I’ll likely pick it up one day when I’m having reader’s block and want to return to something familiar but new.

Selected Quote

If people wanted to stand up for themselves or protect their loved ones or do what they believe in their hearts is the right thing to do, then they would do it. If they wanted to be heroic, they would find ways to be heroic, even without supernatural powers.

Who Might Like it

I recommend this book for: People who like superhero stories and dystopia fiction
I don’t recommend this book for: People who cringe at tropes

Rating

I have implemented a standard rating system to my book reviews:

1 – Story, plot and character development are all poor

2 – Concept is intriguing but execution is sloppy or does not deliver on promises

3 – Story, plot and/or character are interesting but some aspects of the book are problematic and/or not fully developed

4 – Strong story, plot and character development but has little-to-no thoughtful commentary

5 – Strong story, plot and character development along with thoughtful commentary

I give this book a 3.5. It was a really interesting setup but the ideas and commentary were all relatively basic; blurring the hero/villain dichotomy is certainly nothing new. However, a shout out for good representation of a non-traditional family (two dads and an adopted son).

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