My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Thank you, Macmillan, for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Hero or villain, all prodigies were powerful. All prodigies were dangerous.
Renegades is actually the first book I’ve read about superheroes and villains. Novels about such characters (e.g. Batman and Wonder Woman) have been trendy nowadays, but I never bothered to add them to my TBR because the film industry has already made me so familiar with the Marvel/DC universe. With that in mind, I probably wouldn’t have requested this book from the publisher if it wasn’t penned by one of my favorite authors. Marissa Meyer never fails to make me happy, so it should go without question that I’ll read anything written by her.
In her brand new novel, Marissa Meyer deconstructs the notions we have about heroes and villains. Logic dictates that heroes are “good” and villains are “evil”. However, after reading Renegades, you’ll most likely find yourself questioning the validity of such reasoning. There are two organizations in this book: the Renagades (heroes) and the Anarchists (villains). In spite of their many differences, they have one thing in common: the desire to make the world a better place. Nova Artino, the female lead, is an Anarchist who justifiably yearns for the destruction of the Renegades. Adrian Everheart, the male lead, is a Renegade who only wants to solve the mystery of his mother’s demise. When the paths of these two teenagers converge, you’ll have a difficult time choosing your side.
While reading Renegades, I found myself partial to the Anarchists, who were supposedly or strictly malevolent. Most of the book was told from Nova’s POV, and her musings about the Renegades were surprisingly accurate and thought-provoking. For instance, her main complaint against the Renegades was that they were making ordinary people so lazy or passive. Since the Renegades were there to solve everyone’s problems (they were just a call away), people became unwilling to help others and even themselves. Nova couldn’t help but see this psychological phenomenon (diffusion of responsibility) as a disadvantage, and I totally agreed with her. In fact, one of my favorite sayings is “God helps those who help themselves.” The Renegades were inadvertently weakening the agency of ordinary people, so I sympathized with Nova’s desire to stop them. Maybe Nova’s childhood would have been happier if the people around her hadn’t been so passive.
I also sided with the Anarchists because there were Renegades who didn’t deserve to be called “heroes,” in the truest sense of the word. Some Renegades abused their privileges and saw themselves as superior to Nova and the other Anarchists. Of course, as their name implies, the Anarchists weren’t totally innocent. Still, they didn’t deserve to be treated inhumanely. Also, if I were to focus on Nova alone, I would say that she was the one who deserved to be called a Renegade. She belonged to a villainous group, but many of her actions reflected heroism.
It was no surprise that Adrian made me think twice about my loyalty. He wasn’t one of those narcissistic Renegades. As much as he wanted to attain justice, he wasn’t willing to compromise his integrity. Furthermore, even though he was the son of the founders of the Renegades, Adrian wasn’t smug or complacent. He treated his peers with warmth and respect, and he even managed to be compassionate to his enemies. The best thing I liked about him was his willingness to listen to other people’s opinions or suggestions. Despite his elevated rank as a Renegade, he didn’t believe that the Renegades and their policies were perfect. In retrospect, his only flaw was his gullibility. :3 All in all, Adrian was a perfect example of what a Renegade should be like. And let me tell you, Nova acknowledged this fact.
Putting Nova and Adrian side by side, it was utterly difficult for me to stay loyal. I deeply sympathized with Nova, but I didn’t want her to succeed at the expense of Adrian’s happiness. With that in mind, I really loved this book because it gave me moments of deep, philosophical introspection. Marissa Meyer wrote Renegades in such a way that categorizing characters into heroes and villains wasn’t as easy as pie. I had so much fun practicing my critical thinking skills.
Honestly, I couldn’t find major flaws to discuss in this review, but for objectivity’s sake, I felt a bit jaded about one of the plot twists because it was reminiscent of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising.
In conclusion, Renegades is one of the most thought-provoking books YA has to offer. Anyway, you’re probably a silly person if you expect me to give a Marissa Meyer book less than 5 stars. HAHAHA. Even though it didn’t exactly reach the bar set by The Lunar Chronicles, I can say that I genuinely loved this book. If you’ve read it, too, please don’t hesitate to fanboy/fangirl with me! 😀
P.S. Other noteworthy virtues of Renegades include:
1. Diversity (i.e. Nova is half Filipino <3)
2. An almost romance-free plot
3. A mind-blowing ending that more than compensated for the mentioned “flaw”.