Is it possible that some villains are unlikely heroes, and that perhaps some heroes are a little villainous? Marissa Meyer’s Renegades, the 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?
Renegades Review: Inside a Superhero’s Skin – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)