"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." - From Goodreads
In the city of Gatlon, people with powers, known as prodigies, used to live in fear/persecution until Ace Anarchy (a powerful telekinetic) and some other prodigies overthrew the government, and all hell/chaos broke lose. Now, twenty years after the “Age if Anarchy,” the Renegades, a group of prodigies that formed with the goal of trying to do good for the people of Gatlon, which included defeating villainous gangs such as Ace himself and his Anarchists, oversee a relatively more peaceful and stable city, with prodigies and "regular" people living side by side.
The story is told from two different viewpoints. Nova, aka Nightmare, is one of the Anarchists, angry and wants revenge against the Renegades who failed to be there when she needed the most. Adrian, aka Sketch, is almost like Renegade “royalty” (son of one of the original founding members renegades, adopted by two current members). Adrian is restless and wants justice and answers for his mother’s death.
They both believe their cause is the right cause, they both believe their “families” viewpoints are correct. And, as expected, they both find these viewpoints being challenged by the other.
"May Ace really was a villain. Or maybe he was a visionary.
Maybe there's not much of a difference."
- Renegades, page 3
Renegades is, in a sense, a typical superhero story. It is a story about power, literal physical power and the very concept of it. A story of heroes and villains, of how history is written by the winners, how good and evil is all a matter of perspective, and that the world is never black and white but rather all the shades in between. It is a story about how people do bad things for the greater good and good things for selfish reasons. A story of love and family and betrayal and loss, the sins of our fathers and virtues of our enemies.
It feels like a retelling in the sense that we’ve all heard/read/watched stories that deal with people who have powers and the consequences/repercussions etc. of the reveal in the “real” world. This plot is not necessarily new, but it’s what Marissa Meyer does well (in my opinion). Though some of the secondary characters fall a little flat and blend into each other (I frequently had to flip back to the the front to remember which person had such superhero alias/powers) the “main” characters (Adrian and Nova) do stand out strongly. The city that they live in is rich and detailed, with enough history/general background information that you understand where each side is coming from.
I had fun reading this book. I love me a good superhero story, especially one that creates something new out of tried and true methods (not necessarily completely original, but still new. If that makes sense). It was interesting to see a book that addresses a time where superheroes, rule, in a sense. Addresses how “normal” people would act/react, how things like laws and crime and politics and bureaucracy would work. Prodigies don’t just exist in Gatlon city, they hold positions of power (pun intended). They are expected to basically handle everything that goes wrong in the city.
My main issue with Renegades is two-folded: the beginning is massively slow (even though there's a ton of action, don't ask me how that works) and takes a while for the tension/action to pick up, and there's a lot of build up, but no real fulfillment at the end. Instead, we got an ending which contains a massive reveal that seems to come out of absolutely nowhere (unless I just missed the signs entirely). There are just so many questions left unanswered, some of which will probably be answered in the sequel but some of which I really felt should have been addressed in this book, especially considering how long it is. There’s also a hilarious Clark Kent/Superman secret identity type scenario which was ridiculous considering the circumstances, but thankfully managed to veer on the side of entertaining to me.
Overall, despite its faults and kind of “wait, what?” feeling left by the meant-to-be cliffhanger, I had just as fun reading Renegades as I do watching the Marvel movies, and I am looking forward to the sequel.
(Some) Memorable Quotes:
"One cannot be brave who has no fear.”
“There's no rule that says you have to be a prodigy to be a hero," she insisted. "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.”
“It became the strong against the weak, and, as it turns out, the strong were usually jerks.”
"...the people didn’t even seem to understand that their own despondency was as much at fault. They saw the Renegades as heroes, the Anarchists as villains. They saw prodigies themselves as only good or only evil, leaving the rest of humanity somewhere in the realm of neutral.
There was the potential for evil everywhere, and the only way to combat it was if more people chose goodness. If more people chose heroism.
Not laziness. Not apathy. Not indifference."
If anyone has read Renegades, let us know what you think in the comments below! Comments also open to further book/movie/show recommendations, anything you’d like to see reviewed, or general feedback. We’d love to hear what you have to say!