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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Ordinary People, Abundant Power

super-power-1Have you noticed a common thread among superheroes? They have lowly origins, rise to unlikely greatness, and often have Achilles’-heel-like weaknesses.

Think about it. Spiderman was a whimpy teenager until a spider bit him. Captain America couldn’t even meet the enlistment requirements. Superman was superhuman unless kryptonite came into the picture.

Does anyone remember I-Man? My brothers liked this movie from the 80s, so I watched it many times in my childhood. I-Man breathed extraterrestrial space dust that made him virtually unstoppable. But if he were left in the dark, his cells would die, and well, so would he.

He also had a penchant for stealing all the cream for his coffee. I may be guilty of this habit myself.

We cheer for these big-screen heroes because many started like us: ordinary people. However, we don’t have to inhale space dust to have super power.

Today, we’re going to hear more from Ashley, Hannah, and Victoria on how we can tap into our Source of strength and find some supersized encouragement for our daily lives.

Tap into God’s Power

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God (2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV).

Hannah: God does not want to make it hard for us to receive Him and the “power” He offers freely to us. We can easily tap into this “power”; we must start by trusting in God, believing that His Son, Jesus, died and rose again, and have faith in our God. Once you become a Christian, God will offer His everlasting help to you. God’s power will become more evident to you if you give an effort to grow closer to Him by prayer and time in His Word; if we truly want to know God’s power, we will want to get to know Him first.

Ashley: We should get our power from God. We simply need to admit that we need God to help us, and He’ll be there for us.

For reflection: What fears or foes are you facing? Have you asked God for His help? 

Don’t Go Solo 

Victoria: No matter where I am at with the Lord, I can never achieve perfection. I need to constantly be growing in my faith with Him.

Hannah: God has the ability to strengthen me when I feel weak. If I have true fear for God, then that’s all that really matters. My relationship with God is ten times more beautiful than I am, and that’s exactly how I want my life to be, because a relationship with God is the most stunning thing about a person; at least, it should be.

For reflection: Do you try to “fix” your problems alone? Don’t. Seek the Lord, and surround yourself with friends and family who can walk this journey with you. 

Be Encouraged Today 

I asked these young ladies what they would tell someone who’s struggling to believe God is powerful enough to handle any difficulty. Here’s what they had to say.

Ashley: I would tell them that God is bigger. God is bigger than anything and everything he could be going through. I know it may be hard to trust God because we can’t physically see Him, but He will get us through all our struggles (I Peter 5:7).

Victoria: I would share with him the fact that the God who made everything thought that the world needed one of him too. We must always remember that God provides and the fact that one door closes so another can open.

Hannah: I have come to the realization that God doesn’t explain exactly how or why He does what He does or lets things happen how they happen. He lets difficulties occur to test our belief in Him and His power to work things out. God wants us to trust Him completely, and we can’t do that unless we learn how to. So when you feel as though God doesn’t have enough power to heal your broken heart, fix your sadness, or change your doubt to belief, just remember that God has enough power to raise people from the dead, make the blind see, the lame walk, the sinners believe, and He holds you in the same hands that He created the world with. God’s power is impossible to totally comprehend, but that does not make it impossible.

Parting Thought

Thank you, young ladies, for your example of faith and words of encouragement!

I love that last part Hannah shared: God’s power is impossible to totally comprehend, but that does not make it impossible.

We may all be rather ordinary, but God’s power knows no limits. Nothing is impossible with Him (Luke 1:37).

That’s pretty super. Don’t you agree?

~ Kristen

 

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