2.5 out of 5 stars
On the highest, tippy top of the upside: The Lunar Chronicles.
On the lowest, bottom-scrape of the downside: Heartless.
Marissa Meyer has done some of the best and worst work in recent YA fiction, so my hope for Renegades was wobbly. It doesn’t start off strong. Gatlin City has been dragged from the ashes of the Age of Anarchy into the new world, governed, policed, and held together by superheroes, called Renegades. Mehhhhhhh. From the jump, it’s a thin veil over an exhausted idea: Batman/Gotham City.
Our heroine, Nova, is a predictably sarcastic and wounded teen – now with superpowers! She never needs sleep, and she can put others to sleep with a touch. Nova is also an anarchist, working to bring back to golden age (?) of everything apparently being absolutely horrible and nearly destroying the city and all its inhabitants. Her inner monologue explains that she wants everyone to be “independent” and “responsible for themselves” – because that worked so well the first time? She barely bothers to try to make sense; this old map always leads to growing a heart of gold by book three.
The Renegades are a group of up-and-ups trying to put the world back together. The founding members form The Council, they are the government now. (Think: Marvel) The rest, including teenagers, are law enforcement. (Think: X-Men) Nova has her reasons for hating them, which leads to infiltrating them by becoming one of their own.
The action is solid and most of the supporting cast are likable. Overall, it’s a tolerable story, and eventually sheds it’s cheap, wannabe Batman start for something more interesting. Sadly, that thing is not Nova.She is not bright. She is not quick. For someone who agreed to go undercover, she gave it zero thought and less preparation. She does a lot of gaping dumbly, and repeats other people’s statements slowly as questions.
“Nova, there’s a call for you on the phone.”
“A call?” pauzzzze “For me?” pauzzzze “On the phone?”
It’s lame and painful, just filling space. But the story doesn’t need it – there’s enough here that could be tightened up into a 3+ star book, maybe even better. Marissa Meyer got in the door, but not past the cheap seats for this one. It’s much better than Heartless, but falls far short of her own mark from The Lunar Chronicles.