by Marissa Meyer
Read: October 25 - 30, 2017
Published: November 7, 2017 by Feiwel & Friends
Source: Galley from Publisher (TY, Macmillan!)
Category: YA, Superheroes, Secret Identities, Future world,
Series: Duet 1/2
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound
Book Description: Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.
The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.
Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.
Having read and loved both The Lunar Chronicles and Heartless, it's safe to say that I am a fan of Marissa Meyer. I also went into Renegades expecting some things based on my experiences with Meyer's other stories.
(1) All of Meyer's previous stories have started slowly for me, but once they've taken off, I've been hooked. I wasn't fully invested in The Lunar Chronicles until I read Scarlet and the excitement only grew with each book after that. Though Heartless is a standalone, it also took me some time to feel invested in that story. I can safely say that the same was true for my experience reading Renegades. I expected it to take me time for me to feel invested in this story, and it did.
However, as Renegades is the beginning of a duet (instead of a quartet) and a long book at that, not as much was accomplished in the story as I anticipated/hoped. Much of it felt like a set up, and the characters and plot still seemed to be in the beginning of their journeys when I got to the end of the book. Tied up into my expectation of a slow start, is (2) my expectation that I have to let a lot of world building questions go in Meyer's books, which also happened to me in this story. I tried not to think too hard about how the world got this way, why so many people have powers, or some of the logistics of the Anarchists vs the Renegades. Previously, I've been able to (mostly) ignore these overarching world questions because the characters and plot have been so engaging. I'm not sure I fully got to that point with all 500+ pages of Renegades.
More specifically, (this is where things get a little spoilery. I'm not giving away huge things, but some details you might not want to know if you haven't read this. You've been warned!) Nova and Adrian still don’t know each other’s alternate identities by the end. The only thing really accomplished is that Nova has successfully infiltrated the Renegades, which happens early, and Ingrid/Detonator is determined to be Truly Bad and killed, but that’s about it. By the end of the book, I expected that Nova or Adrian’s opinions would have started changing about their 'sides,' or there’d be a big revelation about their pasts to shed things into new light. But none of that happened.
There is a big reveal in the last chapter, and while it was a surprise to me, it didn't work for me as the big "Gasp!" "AH-HA!" moment that it was supposed to be. I think that's because I was really confused about whether Nova knew about it the whole time, and what that meant for the book I just read and rest of the story to come. Why, if Nova knew about that revelation, was it not brought up sooner? Wouldn't that have been a factor/strategy in everything she did? Wrapped up in this, I'm still not sure what I think of Nova at the end of this book. She certainly is a complicated character. Also, I don't like any of the people who "raised" her and she's still so loyal to them.
I am a huge fan of the enemies to love romance. It is one of my favorite tropes and one of the reasons I was most excited to read this book. I loved Adrian a lot. He is the sweetest. But the thing is, I just can’t fathom things working between him and Nova at this point. And that's left me feeling very uneasy. There is so little romance in this story and Nova and Adrian are still very much on opposite sides - he way more in the dark about everything than she is. I don’t know if I believe everything is going to reconcile itself. I think this is part of my feeling disappointed in how much is accomplished in this story, and unsure about my feelings about this book. I don't know if I can fully ship these two yet, and I need that to feel confident about where the story is going.
All that said, one thing I do love about this book is that neither the Renegades nor the Anarchists is all good or all bad. There’s a lot of complexity in how the two sides are draw. And I like that in a tale of superheroes, there’s no black and white/ all good vs all evil. Still, I liked many of the Renegades characters, despite also seeing their faults (Adrian's parents are good dads, despite some of their decisions and leadership), but I didn't end up liking the individual Anarchist characters all that much by the end.
Even though I spent a lot of time talking about things that disappointed me in Renegades, I still enjoyed reading the story. I also can't wait to read the next installment in the series. I just wish I'd ended this story feeling more excited about where it was going.
Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium, no immediate 'hanging off of a cliff' danger, but definitely the middle of the story.