Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.
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.
Description taken from Goodreads.
I sooooo looked forward to Renegades, but unfortunately, there were a lot of things about the book that set it on the fence for me. Let’s get right into it.
On one hand, the writing is engaging and flows well. The narration has all the right elements to it to produce depth and insight. It’s undeniably Marissa Meyer throughout most of it, even at the slow parts, which is relieving in the sense that we now know she can write more than just fairytale retellings (as much as I love her fairytale retellings).
Except maybe she can’t. Because on the other hand, the plot drags at places. Renegades could’ve been one of my favorite books of the year if there wasn’t so much filler everywhere. When I first saw the size of the book, I really hoped that it would be a standalone like Heartless, but seeing it now, I wish that about 1/4 – 1/2 of it had been cut. It feels as though this series (I believe it’s a duology?) was originally one book, but then it was cut into two for marketing reasons. That can be okay in a movie. That is not okay in a book.
What’s the most frustrating to me is that I liked most of what had substance. Many promising things were set up, but very little actually happened. I really enjoyed hearing from both Nova and Adrian from the get-go. It could’ve been action action action, and I would’ve been 100% there for it. And even though it wasn’t, I was still sucked in by new and interesting characters like Max. It didn’t cross my mind to DNF, but I skimmed through a lot of the book.
A smaller, more subtle concern as I read on was that premise didn’t have an air of legitimacy to it. The superheros and supervillains theme in YA has the potential to get incredibly dark, or even just very serious, and Renegades didn’t bring any of that for me. I felt like I was reading a whimsical middle-grade book at times, like I had to convince myself to approach the story differently than I would a YA or adult novel.
In comparison to Marissa Meyer’s other novels, this one lacked her signature world- and character-building. There were whole sections dedicated to mini info-dumps about the world and its history, and not all the characters held weight for me. They were trying too hard to be funny, too hard to be earnest or endearing. The supporting cast was pretty meaningless.
And what’s up with killing off people randomly?
I didn’t understand the point of the deaths that occurred throughout the story. If it was to drive the plot along, then that’s somewhat understandable–if disappointing. The problem with that is that the story has nowhere to go. In Renegades, the villains get pounded time and time again. All the while, Nova’s starting to fall for Adrian. That said, it’s important to note here that she doesn’t actually fall to the point where she starts dating him. No, this is a double-agent with her head on straight. This is still Marissa Meyer, after all.
Back to the point: I have no idea how Meyer’s going to fix all of this, but I’m confident that she can. I look forward to being pleasantly surprised in the next book.
Overall, I liked it. All of the issues couldn’t make me dislike it. But I was still disappointed, and I’m hoping for a lot more from the finale. The ending was a huge game-changer without being a cliffhanger (my favorite kind of ending), and there’s still much that can be done. In the meantime though, there are a handful of other superhero books that’re awesome: