It coulda been a classic.  Some SPOILERS.

Renegades is my first Marissa Meyer book.  She is of course best known for the Cinder series, a sci-fi/fairy tale mash up.  Renegades takes place in a world of superpowers, where the superheroes, or prodigies, are split between the “good” Renegades and the “evil” Anarchists.  Overall, I enjoyed the story and was very much drawn into the world, but there are two pretty big problems with this book.

First, as a number of other reviewers have pointed out, there is the pacing.  For the most part I didn’t have any issue here, but there are a handful of chapters that feel like they could have just been summarized in a paragraph or a page.  This problem isn’t helped by the fact that many of these chapters come one after the other, which seems to bring the story to a screeching halt just when you expect things to pick up.

It also seems like the story reaches its climax and then just keeps going, well into what feels like it could’ve been book two of the series.  Now, this may be because the series started as a trilogy, shifted to a standalone, and finally became a duology (while also undergoing some significant plot changes, as it was originally about rival schools for super-powered youths).  Perhaps the plot really would work best as a trilogy, but it just wasn’t quite long enough for three full books.

The bigger issue is the two main characters, who I found to be rather unlikeable.  Nova is a young Anarchist, who goes undercover and joins the Renegades, in order to take them down from the inside.  She is thus given a backstory that is meant to explain why she hates the Renegades, but it just didn’t work for me.  Her family is murdered, and she is rescued by her uncle Ace Anarchy, leader of the Anarchists, who tells her that the Renegades had agreed to protect her family from a gang known as the Roaches, but then just abandoned them. 

The problem is that it seemed very obvious to me that Nova should have considered her uncle the prime suspect in the deaths of her family, not someone to be blindly followed.  Her father had clearly been trying to distance himself from his brother, and commented about not wanting to be in his brother’s debt more than he already was, and the uncle even admitted that the father had hid Nova’s powers from him, but he had always suspected she was a prodigy.  Thus giving him motivation to take out the rest of the family, so he could use Nov to further his agenda.  The uncle also conveniently massacred the gang who he claims were responsible for the murders of Nova’s family, so they can’t dispute his accusation.  But Nova just accepts Ace’s version of events without hesitation, which was rather frustrating, especially when she snidely thinks about how stupid and brainwashed everyone else is.

Then there is Adrian.  He is the adopted son of the leaders of the Renegades, and as Sketch, who can bring his drawings to life, he leads a team of Renegades.  But he secretly has other powers as well, and in the very beginning of the book shows up in the middle of a battle as The Sentinel to help his team.  Except they have no idea who the Sentinel is, and the distraction is partially responsible for one of his team being seriously injured.  And really, it’s hard to understand why Adrian thought it was a good idea to show up incognito in the middle of a battle.  Couldn’t he anticipate that some mysterious guy showing up in the middle of a battle could have unforeseen consequences for his teammates?

Now, during this initial battle Nova (in her Anarchist disguise as Nightmare) makes a comment that makes Adrian think she is tied to the long-ago murder of his biological mother, so he continues to use the Sentinel identity to investigate her.  This made some sense, until it was pointed out that there was really a pretty simple explanation for Nova using that phrase that didn’t mean she was tied to the murder of Adrian’s mother, but he just kept using the Sentinel identity.  He even shows up in the middle of another battle, once again causing a dangerous distraction for his allies.  At the end of the day, it just seemed really selfish for Adrian to keep using this secret identity, when it clearly put his allies in danger.

I’m still invested enough in the story that I’ll be waiting for the sequel to hit shelves, but thanks to these frustrating main characters, Renegades will not be taking a place amongst my all-time favourites.

Published by Andrew Clendening