Renegades Review: Inside a Superhero’s Skin

Is it possible that some villains are unlikely heroes, and that perhaps some heroes are a little villainous? Marissa Meyer’s Renegadesthe first in a young adult science fiction trilogy, trails two teen prodigies, both with superhuman abilities, but from different sides of the fence.

Nova, alias Nightmare, had expected the Renegades to save her when a villain gang murdered her family. But those lifesaving superheroes didn’t come. Instead, her Uncle Ace Anarchy, lead villain of the Anarchists, rescued her and made her his protege. But when the Renegades defeated the Anarchists in an epic battle, they killed her uncle. Two strikes give Nova reason to want revenge. Infiltrating the Renegades during their prodigy selection trials might let her do just that.

But then there’s Adrian, alias Sketch, the adopted son of two superhero Renegade Council members. Did I mention Nova herself had attempted to assassinate one of them a few days ago? Adrian wants justice for the villain Nightmare who almost killed his father and answers, because he thinks she knows who killed his mother.  Of course, he has no clue that Nightmare is Nova, the new superhero on his team who’s slowly stealing his heart. And naturally, she doesn’t realize Adrian has secrets of his own.

Fresh Twist on Superheroes 

Some of my students have raved about Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, and after reading Renegades, I can understand why. Her writing style is delightful and relatable, and in this case, offers a fresh twist on superhero fiction. She doesn’t redo a classic good versus evil or repeat the more recently overdone anti-hero trope typical in this genre.

Instead, she presents two protagonists on missions they sincerely believe will help make their world a better place. Their motivations make sense, and even as they seek to reach their own objectives, they knowingly or unknowingly begin to sympathize with each other.

The takeaway for me is to understand other people’s perspectives. The story reminded me of what Atticus said in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee:

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

Meyer invites us to climb inside the skins of these two characters to empathize with them both. Truth is, if they want to defeat the real villains, they’re going to have to work together.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

I recommend this mainstream book to my fellow Christian fiction readers with one word of caution. Adrian has two adoptive “dads,” superhero leaders of the Council. This lifestyle is presented as normal, though at one point Adrian jokes that he was “obviously” adopted.

Although today’s culture views such a family unit as “the new norm,” the Bible makes clear that God designed marriage for one man and one woman in a covenant relationship (Genesis 2).

I do appreciate that Meyer does not make any explicit references to their relationship, but would encourage readers, as with all books, to be discerning.

Archenemies, the second installment in the trilogy, releases this November, and because I care about Nova and Adrian, I want to find out how Meyer develops their already complicated relationship.

Read on! What books have you finished recently?

~ Kristen

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Fighting Fear through Fantasy

At the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, I met author Emily Golus, whose young adult fantasy, Escape to Vindor, won the Selah Award for its category. I was instantly drawn to her sincere, winsome personality and looked forward to reading her novel.

Last week, I read it. Yes, the story is incredible, but beyond that, I was moved by how much it personally challenged me.

Summary

Megan Bradshaw can defeat a sphynx when she’s imagining her alter-ego Selena in the fantasy world of Vindor, but in real life, she bombs oral speeches and dreads the idea of moving to a new school. If only she could be Selena all the time!

But when Megan gets her wish and finds herself transported to Vindor, she’s in over her head. Vindor faces a growing threat from a mysterious Shadow, and unless she can find the real guardian Selena, Vindor might perish. She, Megan Bradshaw, is a sham, and it’s only a matter of time until everyone finds out.

When reality hits that there is no other Selena to rescue Vindor, Megan must confront the Shadow and her own fears to save the world and creatures she loves.

Review and Take-Away

Golus’ writing, world building, and characterization are masterful, but what I loved even more was the theme for readers to apply to their own lives. When Megan discovers that the Shadow feeds on fear, she sees how fear controls her life and the lives of others. She develops self-awareness for the root cause of her fears and the lies they tell her.

We readers have seen the theme that love conquers fear before, but the way Golus develops Megan’s journey of discovery, climaxing with her understanding of the ultimate Love, truly touched me. It challenged me to identify and confront my own fears and take them to my God who is so much greater than them.

The spiritual thread runs seamlessly through the story in a quiet but confident way. Middle school and older readers will enjoy this book. I’m adding Golus to my favorite author list.

Return to Vindor

Perhaps the best Instagram news from last week was Golus’ post that there’s going to be a sequel. Readers can return to Vindor in 2019! You can follow the author for updates and more at worldofvindor.com.

What’s your latest favorite read and why did you love it? Share your thoughts in the comments. Happy reading!

~ Kristen

 

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Adored: Book Giveaway & Review

Each year about this time, I start thinking about a daily devotional book to supplement my Scripture reading. Some of my favorites in the past have included Charles Stanley’s Every Day in His Presence and Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest. When people ask me for recommendations, I sometimes hesitate because while I enjoy the ones I read, they might not be the best fit for everyone.

That’s why I’m excited to introduce you to Lindsay A. Franklin’s Adored, a daily devotional intentionally designed for young women (middle or high school age). The short selections for each day touch on issues relevant to today’s teens and offer biblical perspective on common struggles and questions, including:

  • Why should I attend church?
  • How can God’s promises help me weather life’s storms?
  • Does God care when I feel like an outsider and like I don’t belong?
  • How do I deal with bullying?
  • How can I invite God’s guidance into my life?
  • Is it possible to truly know God?
  • Why did God create me this way?

Throughout the daily challenges runs the thread of the reader being God’s adored daughter, someone who is precious in His sight. For young women today who constantly feel the world’s pressuring messages, telling them they’re not “good enough,” this devotional offers the much-needed grounding truth that they are unconditionally loved by and valuable to God.

Each daily reading begins with Scripture and ends with space to jot down notes, thoughts, or a prayer. Though not designed to be an exclusive daily reading, this devotional offers an excellent jump-start to a young woman’s daily quiet time. (Speaking from personal experience, I often need something to help focus my mind where it needs to be before diving deeper into God’s Word.)

A Giveaway for You

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to show a special teenage girl some love than give her something she’ll actually use to help build her relationship with God in the new year? There’s even space in the front of the book for you to personalize the gift.

Today, I’m excited to share a special giveaway opportunity. You can enter to win a copy of Adored! Here’s how:

  • Simply leave a comment below.
  • Share my Facebook post from my author page and tag me.
  • Share the Tweet below.
  • You can do one or all of the above!

I’ll announce the winner at the end of next week’s post, which by the way, you won’t want to miss! My friend and blogger Ashley Jones of BigSisterKnows.com will be sharing tips on how to speak the truth in love.

Take time this week to let a teenager know how much you care and how much God adores her or him.

~ Kristen

Special thanks to The Blythe Daniel Agency for making this book giveaway possible!

 

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Giving God Your Future: A Review & Giveaway

women-of-faithbible-study-giveawayThe title of this Women of Faith Bible study immediately grabbed my attention. Since I was a teenager, I’ve wondered about God’s will, how to know it, and how to live it out each day. After all, doing God’s will today determines where I’ll find myself tomorrow.

Although my desire was in the right place, my motivation wasn’t. I mistakenly thought if I followed the straight and narrow, I’d be able to better manage my life with fewer surprises.

Instead, God’s will sometimes means I have just enough light to see the next step. For a planner like me, that’s been hard. (If you can relate,  chapter 3 “It’s My Life” is for you.)

However, the better we know God’s Word, the better we know God, and the more confidently we can trust him.

That’s why this study has resonated with me. In the foreword, Thelma Wells explains the the book’s purpose this way:

This courageous study will help you to become willing to trust God with your everything because He is the God of everything.

Amen!

Giving God Your Future: A Review

We pick up some books to help us unwind from a long day and entertain us with a story. This Women of Faith study is not one of those books.

It’s designed to be a companion, a tool for those who want to dig deep into God’s Word and learn more about His purpose for their lives. When I open it, I come prepared with my Bible, notebook and pen.

The introduction to each chapter begins with an example or story, along with a “clearing the cobwebs” question that makes sure the brain is ready to engage.

Yes, this book is a study, either for your individual quiet time or for use with a Bible study group. Each chapter breaks down further into sections, consisting of Bible passages to read and questions to consider. It immerses you in God’s Word as you learn more about who God is and what kind of plan He has for your life.

It’s organized into twelve chapters, ideally one for each week of the study. Each lesson concludes with “digging deeper” passages for those who want to spend some extra time learning about the topic.

The chapters also finish with a short section called “Trinkets to Treasure.” These “trinkets” are visual objects or imaginary “souvenirs” to help us remember the lesson itself. For example, chapter one talks about the role of the Good Shepherd in our lives, and the trinket is a “shepherd’s crook,” reminding us “that the Lord will lead us aright” (8).

At first, I thought, “That’s weird. It’s not tangible; it’s just a drawing.” Then, I came to chapter 10 where the trinket is a level. The study says, “We use them [levels] to keep things squared up around the house. We can use this little gadget to remind us to keep our lives squared up with God” (85).

The day before, I had used a mini level to hang a picture in my new house. I’m terrible with tools, but it did help the picture not be conspicuously crooked.

Aha moment! Now the trinket made sense to me. How I would love to have a level that would keep me lined up with God’s Word, reminding me His promises are always true and His Word is unchanging!

This experience taught me that there’s something in a Bible study for everyone. What resonates with one person might not with another. The bottom line, though, is that God’s Word holds the guidance and direction we need for our futures, and when we meditate on it, we won’t be disappointed.

Giveaway: Not One, but Three Studies!

I’m grateful to The Blythe Daniel Agency for the opportunity to review this study and give away, not just one, but three Women of Faith studies!

The winner of the random drawing for Giving God Your Future will also receive the other two, either for personal use or to share with someone else.

To enter, simply do one of the following: 

  • Leave a comment below. (It can be a comment about this post or something as simple as: Please enter me into your drawing.)
  • Subscribe to the KristenHogrefe.com newsletter.
  • Share this post on Twitter and tag me @kjhogrefe.
  • Share my Facebook post with your friends.

The winner of the random drawing will be announced on this blog next week.

On that note, you won’t want to miss next week’s post! I’m also going to share a sneak preview about my upcoming book with Write Integrity Press.

Until then, have a blessed week!

Kristen

 

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