My rating: 4.75 of 5 stars
Thank you, Macmillan, for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Having superpowers doesn’t automatically make you some selfless hero. People are greedy and cruel, and…for some, having superpowers just makes them even more greedy and cruel.
This series is a testament to Marissa Meyer’s growth as an author. Although I still love Cinder and the rest of The Lunar Chronicles, I think that Renegades and Archenemies are better in the intellectual department since they can make you ponder the complexities of morality and human nature in general.
Archenemies builds upon its prequel’s political and not-so-romantic drama. Nova Artino, hoping to retrieve Ace Anarchy’s helmet, continues to be a double agent among the unsuspecting Renegades. Meanwhile, Adrian Everheart struggles to strike a balance between his relatively ordinary career as Sketch and his more liberated life as the mysterious Sentinel. Both protagonists have significant secrets that threaten to destroy their growing connection.
I had fun annotating this book because I resonated with a lot of the character’s beliefs, particularly those about their dysfunctional society. Gleaning from the quote above, Nova insisted that the Renegades had started to abuse their power over prodigies and ordinary citizens. By experimenting on Max, a mere child, the “superheroes” developed Agent N, a substance that could take away the abilities of any prodigy who broke the organization’s rules. Clearly, the members of the Council were departing from their image as benevolent rulers. By using Agent N on “criminals” without due process, they were basically acting like fascists.
Ironically, the “evil” Anarchists were the targets of such oppression. After being forced to evacuate the subway tunnels, they had to hide in a dilapidated cathedral like cats nursing their wounds. Ace Anarchy still had powerful telekinetic abilities, but he had become a shriveled and dying old man. No wonder his team was desperate to retrieve his helmet, which could amplify his gifts. In light of the Anarchists’ suffering, I supported them instead of the Renegades. They might have been belligerent, but they didn’t deserve to be treated like animals. With the exception of Adrian and Max, I wasn’t fond of the Renegades, who happened to host wolves in sheep’s clothing. Seriously, Frostbite, Aftershock, and Stingray should rot in jail!
Nonetheless, the Anarchists weren’t totally innocent, either. Indeed, Nova had valid reasons for infiltrating the Renegades’ HQ, but she was living a lie (just like Adrian). She constantly had to deceive her peers whom she had grown to love or appreciate. As a result, she lived in fear that someone would discover her secrets. Imagine all that undue stress every day! Also, it must suck to be obsessed with vengeance like Nova. I hope that she’ll find a better purpose in life someday.
Her cat-and-mouse relationship with Adrian was very entertaining. Since it was based on much miscommunication, it was reminiscent of The Winner’s Crime, one of my all-time favorites. The ending of this novel was intense in that it increased the hatred between Nova’s and Adrian’s alter egos (Nightmare and the Sentinel). Hence, as far as their slow-burn romance is concerned, I’m not sure if a happy ending is possible for them.
My sole problem with this book was the following quote
Adrian laughed, and though his skin was too dark to be sure, she was almost certain he was blushing.
I’ve heard of debut authors being bashed for insensitive descriptions, so it’s weird how prominent figures in the YA community can get away with the same offense. To be fair, Marissa Meyer might have revised the latter passage in her final manuscript. I have to check a finished copy to be sure. ^^
In totality, Archenemies is worth the hype. Marissa Meyer never fails to please me with her work. Amaze me, even. I enjoyed this as much as the first book, so I can hardly wait for the conclusion.