Renegades by 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.
They told me Marissa Meyer was a genius at world-building, and it wasn’t that I didn’t believe them, I guess I just didn’t get it. HO-LY COW. This world was completely real to me. I was so convinced, there was so much detail, just wow. Only occasionally did the extra-super-hero-y names and words kind of jump out and jolt me into remember that this book is, in fact, pretend. Words like “chromium”, “Galton City”, stuff like that. I don’t know, it was a little cheesy. Perfect for a super hero novel. But I loved how easy it was to get absorbed into the world and the characters and the story.
The characters were great. Renegades is told from the alternating points-of-view of Nova, a villain, and Adrian, a hero. Aside from being on opposite sides, the characters are very different in personality. Nova is sarcastic, dark, and brooding. Adrian is light-hearted, naturally trusting, and just NICE. They contrasted well with each other, but then got along so naturally. Opposites attract…
Their romance was sweet. I loved that Meyer didn’t feel the need to make their relationship anything more than butterflies and nervousness. It was a refreshing change from what I’m used to reading in YA, and made more sense with the inexperienced characters. Also, I’m more of a sucker for things like fingers brushing than for kissing any day!
But my favorite things about Renegades had very little to do with the characters or plot. I think that in our current political climate it was a really important message that two people with opposing beliefs can both want the right thing. Adrian and Nova both want what’s best for Galton City. They both want peace, prosperity, and a place where Prodigies (think mutants from X-Men) can live free from persecution. But they have completely different ideas about how to get there. And the best part is, neither of them is necessarily wrong. As a reader I found myself agreeing with both of them at times.
Even better, neither the Renegades nor the Villains were free from blame. Both sides are willing to make sacrifices that I personally am not okay with in order to bring about the society they are looking for. Both groups have members who seem like genuinely good people, and people who are complete jerks.
It’s really this polarizing “them vs. us” that creates the main tension in the story. The fact that the Renegades continue to kick the Villains after they are down, that they discriminate against them in their policies, is what fuels the villains to keep going. They keep picking fights because they don’t have any other options, not because they enjoy it. And I think there are a lot of potential connections we can make there.
Whether intentionally or not, Meyer has written a book that teaches kids “The other side isn’t wrong, they are just trying to do the same thing a different way. They don’t have to be your enemy. Think of how much more you could accomplish together. Only when you make them villains will they become villains.” At least, that what it says to me.
My biggest disappointment is that this book won’t be a stand-alone. I don’t know why I thought it was going to be, it’s right there next to the title on Goodreads. There’s really no excuse. I was just kind of hoping, I guess. I feel like this is a series that could have resolved in one book, but Meyer obviously wanted to go a more scenic route. She dropped a pretty huge bombshell on literally the last page. I can’t wait to find out what happens next, which is exactly what I was kind of dreading, lol. Just what I need, one more series… On the bright side, it says “conclusion” coming in 2018.
I was also slightly disappointed that the concept wasn’t more original. The whole thing pretty much screams X-Men. But I guess at some point there isn’t much left to say about super heroes that hasn’t already been said. Don’t get me wrong, it was not like reading an X-Men book in the details, they were completely original and different. As I said, genius world-building. However, the general concept was not particularly new.
Definitely a book I would recommend to teens and adults alike! I loved that I could safely recommend it to young teens or even pre-teens at a higher reading level. Once the paperbacks come out I might just add a copy to my classroom library! Good fun, great writing, and something to learn on the way.