Heroism wasn’t about what you could do, it was about what you did. It was about who you saved when they needed saving
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. 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.
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3 / 5
For a novel that is supposed to be about a villain, Renegades is severely lacking in any serious amount of villainy. It starts off strong, with Nova, our main character, attempting to assassinate the leader of the Renegades, the league of superhero that governs the post-Anarchist world. But the start is where Nova’s villainous acts peak. There’s little craftiness, viciousness, or serious moral dilemmas; there’s just a girl who is torn between her family and her past, and the world of the Renegades that she is becoming more familiar with. Which is fine, it’s just not villainous.
One cannot be brave who has no fear
Maybe my expectations were warped because I had so recently watched Killing Eve, which was seriously twisted in a humorous way. Villanelle is a proper villain and she doesn’t stop just because she’s got an obsessive crush on a woman. I definitely recommend it. Nova Arctino, on the other hand, is not evil, she’s just troubled and angry. Raised by her uncle after her parents and siblings were murdered by a gang of prodigies (those with powers), Nova is an Anarchist. Anarchists, led by her uncle Ace Anarchy, stand for freedom and the right not to be ruled by others. The Age of Anarchy was overrun with crimes and gangs, and was ended with the rise of the Renegades, a league of superheroes that prioritise law, order, and justice.
Nova, or Nightmare, as the public knows her, lives in the sewer with the few remaining Anarchists. Her superpower is the ability to send others to sleep through touch and never needing to sleep. The Anarchists are weak, hunted, and desperate, and so they hatch a plan: Nova is to try out at the Renegade trials, infiltrate a Renegade patrol team and to learn information that will help to cripple their organisation.
So long as there are heroes in this world, there’s hope that tomorrow night might be better
Nova meets Adrian the adopted son of two of the leaders of the Renegades. His alias is Sketch, named for his ability to bring anything he draws into existence. Adrian uses these abilities to give himself an alternative persona, the Sentinel, that he uses to investigate Nightmare because he believes she has a connection to the murder of his mother years ago. Adrian is a sweet and soft-hearted character who strongly believes in the cause of the Renegades and he begins to soften Nova’s anger.
Renegades is fun and cool, with loads of different interesting superpowers (like a girl who can disperse into a flock of butterflies), but it had two big flaws for me. First is the aforementioned lack of actual villainy on Nova’s behalf. She’s not evil, she’s just an angsty teenager who gets the hots for a boy. Second is the lack of the anticipated big reveal! Where was the moment where Nova’s new friends discover that she is the villainous Nightmare? The betrayal! The drama! But alas. Guess I’ll have to wait for the next book.
My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of Renegades.