Back when “Cinder” was first released, Marissa Meyer accomplished something that I didn’t think was possible: She took a tired, overdone, overused trope (Cinderella) and breathed new life into it. I thoroughly enjoyed “Cinder”. It was fast paced and fun and had an abundance of likable characters. So when I found out that Meyer’s next series was going to be superhero/villain themed, I was super stoked. I love superheroes – even the corny old-timey ones who fight lame villains like Cheese Wheel Man or Foot Fetish Larry (these are totally real *wink*).
Let me preface by stating that “Renegades” is not a bad read, it’s just not fantastic. After a few false starts, I started it at the end of February and I just finished it yesterday. That’s almost 3 months from start to finish, which I’m pretty sure is only excusable if you’re reading “War and Peace”. Not only that, but I finished reading 25 other books in the time that it took me to finish “Renegades”. I mean, can you really blame me? Weighing in at 556 pages long it’s really more of a tome than a book. And, trust me, they’re not action-filled or exciting pages. A majority of the book feels like introduction and dialogue (like, characters seriously just sit around and talk). My estimate is that 200 pages could have been easily shaved from the final draft and nothing would have been lost. That’s rather unfortunate and significant.
Another issue that I had with “Renegades” is that it is apparent that instead of inventing a whole new superhero world, Meyer borrowed from worlds that have already been established. There are heavy influences from X-men, Superman, My Two Dads (teasing), and even Heroes. I realize that it would be impossible to come up with something entirely new but I needed something MORE. Everything in “Renegades” is so cookie cutter and predictable. The entire thing reads like a superhero movie (definitely DC, not Marvel). The ending even reads like a post-credits teaser trailer.
Then we have our characters. It really was refreshing to have characters of different ethnicities and different sexual orientations at the forefront and not just present as token representations. Our main character, Nova Artino, is the Filipina/Italian niece of Ace Anarchy, creator of the Anarchists and super-villain brought to justice by the Renegades. <mini rant>Oh wait, did I mention that Nova has striking blue eyes. I mean, I know it’s possible but (extended eye roll) seriously? For once you actually have a Filipina main character in a book but, you know, let’s not make her TOO Filipina if you know what I mean</mini rant>. Nova is just an OK character. She has a singular goal throughout the story and that is to take down the Renegades. Her backstory is standard comic book – her parents and sister were murdered. She blames the Renegades because they did not show up in time to save her family. Ooooookaaaaaay. But why doesn’t she blame the people who actually slaughtered her family? It’s a little ridiculous. Anyways, she decides that she’s going to infiltrate the Renegades and take them down from the inside. Did I need to mention that there’s a boy? Didn’t think so. You totally know where this is going.
The boy, Adrian Everheart, is…well, he’s pretty boring. He has a kind of cool power (bringing drawings to life) but it doesn’t really seem practical in the heat of a battle. My hunch is that his superpower only exists to make him into the artistic dreamer type who can draw bouquets of flowers into existence and give them to girls he fancies (this totally happens). He is being raised by his adoptive fathers who are two of the most prominent superheroes in Galton City, Captain Chromium (strength, invincibility) and Dread Warden (invisibility) following the death of his biological mother, Lady Indomitable (flying). Adrian spends his time as leader of a Renegade patrol team comprised of three other Renegades: Smokescreen, Red Assassin, and Monarch. It is this group that Nova (going by the name Insomnia) infiltrates. While all the characters in “Renegades” are tolerable, I can’t say that any one character stands out to me. You know, that one person where you’re like, “YES! All the heart eyes!” and you get a little book crush on them.
Oh! And can we just agree that Nova Artino (a.k.a. Nightmare, a.k.a. Insomnia, a.k.a. Nova McLain) has possibly the most boring super power ever. She is incapable of sleeping but she can put people to sleep by touching them. Do you know what else has the ability to put people to sleep when it touches them? This book. BOOM! Haha, ok, that was a little harsh but it is partially true. And I do think that Meyer missed an opportunity by not giving Nova a name with more alliteration. I mean, what’s one more superhero cliche.
In summary, while “Renegades” wasn’t terrible, I can’t say that I’m exactly jumping in anticipation for the release of “Archenemies” (November 06, 2018). I do predict that I will get around to reading it eventually, though.