I have been in a huge romance/smut book slump, so I decided to switch to fantasy and guys, let me tell ya, if you haven’t read anything by Marissa Meyer, this is your sign to put it on your list. Renegades is the first book of the Renegades series, and I devoured it. I have read the Lunar Chronicles, so I was familiar with how Marissa writes, but I was not expecting this kind of story and was pleasantly surprised.
Nova was a young girl during the Age of Anarchy, a point in time where people with powers were coming out and fighting to be treated like equals and not lesser by normal people. One night, her family is murdered and she is the only one to survive. Her uncle, Ace, finds her and takes her away to raise her with his followers, the Anarchists. We start the story with Nova, codename Nightmare because she can put people to sleep with her touch, Ingrid, codename Detonator because she can make bombs out of thin air, and Phobia, real name unknown, trying to kill Captain Chromium during the Renegade Parade 10 years after Nova’s parents died. The Renegades are a group of superheroes that led to the end of the Age of Anarchy when they killed Ace Anarchy, Nova’s uncle, and they are now trying to make the city functional again. Instead of shooting Captain Chromium, Nova hesitates and ends up in a fight with The Sentinel, a guy in full armor with multiple superpowers. Nova ends up escaping, but they get her gun that she tried to shoot the Captain with, and the day is deemed a failure. Nova hatches a plan with Leroy, codename Cyanide because his body can make poisons at will, for her to enter the Renegade trials and be a spy for the Anarchists and allow them to get more information so they can form a better attack plan on the Renegades. Because Nightmare was seen trying to kill Captain Chromium, she has to fake her name and power (Nova McLain, codename Insomnia because she doesn’t need sleep EVER) and she ends up joining the Renegades. Adrian Everhart is the son of Lady Indomitable, a Renegade that was killed years ago and he was adopted by Captain Chromium and the Dread Warden. We find out that Adrian is moonlighting as The Sentinel but nobody knows, and he is really attached to finding Nightmare because he heard Nightmare say “One cannot be brave who has no fear,” which was written on a note that was found on his mom’s body after her death. Nightmare’s gun was traced to a man called The Librarian, and he was known for distributing illegal weapons. Adrian gets his team put on stake-out duty because they have a Renegade that never sleeps, and his team stakes out the library. Before the stakeout, Nova tells the Anarchists that they have connected Nightmare to the Librarian, and Ingrid says she will tell the Librarian to get all of his stuff out and they will plant something suspicious so that Nova’s team can clear The Librarian of any connection to the Anarchists and stop the Nightmare case from going any further. When the morning of the first night of the stakeout comes, the team is looking out the window and they see The Detonator enter the library. Nova convinces them that the civilians are in danger and the team needs to go inside. They enter and get to the secret room where the weapons are held, and Ingrid is waiting for them. Ingrid did not, in fact, tell the Librarian anything and she was waiting for Nova’s team to show up so she could kill Adrian because of his connection to Captain Chromium and the Dread Warden. Nova is pissed, there is a huge fight that ends with the Sentinel showing up, Ingrid killing the Librarian, and nobody else being hurt.
Because of all of the weapons found at the library, Nova has been tasked with helping to catalog the weapons into the Renegades database, which she does while everyone else is sleeping. She looks over at Max’s quarantine, and sees he is levitating and has most of his things levitating as well. Nova moves and breaks Max’s concentration and he falls and his hand starts gushing blood. Nova is worried for Max and enters his quarantine without any of the usual protocols, and she passes out before she can help him. Adrian was bringing sandwiches to Nova when he sees Max yelling for help, and he drops the food and runs to the quarantine. He enters the quarantine and feels his powers starting to strip away, but he is able to grab Nova, jump out of the quarantine, and close the door. Nova wakes up and asks what happens, and we find out that Max’s power is that he can absorb the powers of other people, and sometimes that can leave them without any powers. Because they don’t know if Nova’s powers are gone, they try to keep her in the healers wing, but she puts Danna, a member of her team, to sleep and proves to herself that she is fine and she leaves against the advice of the healers. Adrian visits Max and Max asks why Adrian was able to jump so far when he got Nova out of the quarantine, and Adrian indeterminately tells Max that he is the Sentinel. Max asks if the Sentinel can make himself indestructible like Captain Chromium, because the Captain is the only one immune to Max’s power, and Adrian says he doesn’t think so. Nova goes back to her house, which the Anarchists have moved into because they were chased out of their tunnels after the fight at the library, and Ingrid meets her outside and says that she has a plan to fake the deaths of Nightmare and the Detonator so that they both can start over without people looking for them. Adrian comes over for the first time, and they agree to meet at an amusement park the next day that they heard was where Ace Anarchy found Nightmare when she was a child. Adrian and Nova go to the park, and Nova had put clues about where Nightmare would be hiding to get Adrian away from everyone so she and Ingrid could fake their deaths, and it goes great — until Ingrid goes nuts and tries to kill everyone. Nova ends up shooting Ingrid before she can kill everyone at the carnival, and she and Adrian have a moment, but she leaves him in the dust. Nova goes back to the tunnels, enters a secret tunnel that leads to a crypt, and she says that she found out that Ace Anarchy’s helmet is not destroyed but is being kept in Renegade HQ and she thinks she can get it. The stone wall opens, and Ace Anarchy is levitating there and he he is happy with her intel.
Goodness the character building is so interesting, and I cannot wait to see what happens with this series. Nova and Adrian are both willing to accept the deficits in the current political system within their own heads, but they aren’t willing to talk about it with each other, and it makes me wonder how they will go about fixing those problems. Also, I absolutely adore Max and I am interested to see how they are able to use him to find out that Nova is Nightmare, because he now has her powers too and I think that is how it is going to be revealed. I also am hoping that Nova continues to come into her own and form her own thoughts and opinions instead of just relying on what others told her, because there were multiple points in the book where she thinks something and she says “she heard those words in Ace’s voice,” which makes me hopeful for a great coming-of-age moment where she gets comfortable in her own skin. Also, I love me some romance and I am excited to see this enemies-to-lovers situation between Adrian and Nova play out. Speaking of Adrian, I think he will have to deal with a lot of self-searching and figuring out what he wants, because his being the Sentinel is going to be revealed at some point and it isn’t going to go over well.
Throughout this book, I enjoyed the superhero aspect and how it isn’t like a comic book super hero situation, but it shows the flaws that are capable when superheroes are leaders, and that not every problem is solved by superheroes. I also like that Nova believes that everyday people need to be invested in their own wellbeing as a culture, because that is something that I think is often forgotten when we look at problems around us. I also enjoyed the subtle romance in this book, and I know it’s YA, but sometimes you just need a slow burn, YA romance to make you appreciate the other types of romance. Obviously, some things confused me, like how there were casualties during the different battles but no fatalities, but that might just be my brain saying that a casualty is a fatality when they may be different things, but that was really my only problem with this book.
I am looking forward to reading Archenemies, and I cant wait to get to the bookstore to get it! I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, and I am so excited to keep reading!
What do you think the significance is of Phobia saying the “One cannot be brave if one has no fear” line at the end of the book? How do you think the Renegades find out that Nova is Nightmare?