Not Another YA Superhero Book: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

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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.

Source: GoodReads

YA superhero novels are becoming more common than they used to be.  A few years back, I remember wanting desperately for such a novel to exist and finding none.  Now there are a few to pick from.  When I heard that Marissa Meyer had a superhero themed book coming out I hit the preorder button and had no regrets.

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Okay, I was a little bit wary.  Until last year, Meyer was definitely a do-no-wrong author, but I was not a fan at all of Heartless.  And I was a little skeptical about this one coming in.

I was pleasantly relieved to find that I liked Renegades.  I didn’t love it, but I liked it.  However, there were a lot of cliches and plot holes in this one and an extremely slow beginning that drags.  So, so, much.

That being said though, I do plan on picking the next installment up next year.

The general gist of the story is that there are two groups of superpower people, the Renegades and the Anarchists.  I think the best comparison would be to the X-men and the Brotherhood, with some minor variations.  However, one of the characters uses a helmet much like Magneto and I was like really Meyer…

Okay, that aside there are some tragic Batman-ish backstories going on in this book and the two leads have sort of a Batman and Catwoman relationship going on.

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The world building is okay for the most part.  Again, I will say that there were several plot holes in the book.  Where I had to wonder why certain characters were too dim not to realize certain things about other characters.  I mean, because some of the secrets that the characters were hidden were fairly obvious.

Then again, the super hero genre has always been generous with having oblivious characters.  I mean, Lois Lane clearly can’t see past Clark Kent’s glasses so I shouldn’t be giving Meyer’s characters too much grief for being stupid.

Still though, it does frustrate me as a reader that Meyer doesn’t even address some of these things.

If you can look past the plot holes though, the book is pretty decent.  Renegades has a fairly diverse group of characters an not one of them is tokenized.  The relationships for the most part are fleshed out, at least with the leads.  The supporting cast isn’t as strong as it was in Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, but they are still decently form.  If this series was going to be longer than duo-logy I could see several of the characters being explored more.  As it was though, I thought the two leads were pretty decent and I sort of liked that they were mirror images of each other in an odd way.

Despite the plot holes my other issues with the book was that it was ridiculously predictable.  Even the cliffy at the end didn’t phase me (much).  I’m guessing there will likely be some twists thrown in the sequel of the novel.  The pacing probably didn’t help since the first 250 pages of this book were glacier slow.

Side note, when I first read Cinder and when I read that abomination better known as Heartless, these issues were prevalent too.  Cinder was difficult to read the first time around because of how slow it seemed, Heartless was even worse.  This book has that same slow start.but it holds my interest like Cinder did.  However, I do think that overall Cinder is a better book.

I know that sounds sort of harsh, but I do think that Cinder was a slightly better book than Renegades, even though this book was written much later in Meyer’s career.   Maybe it’s because Cinder was a retelling so some of the lack of originality (in plot twists) wasn’t as groan worthy as it was with Renegades.

In all, if you’re a superhero fan or a Meyer fan, I’d recommend this one, but it’s hardly awe inspiring by any means.  I’m hoping that the conclusion to the duology will sort of do the series justice, but right now I’d hardly say it was anywhere near Lunar Chronicles levels.

Overall Rating: A  solid B.

 

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Disappointing: Dreadnought by April Daniels

Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, she was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But then her second-hand superpowers transformed her body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

It should be the happiest time of her life, but between her father’s dangerous obsession with curing her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and the classmate who is secretly a masked vigilante, Danny’s first weeks living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined.

She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer, a cyborg named Utopia, still haunts the streets of New Port City. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

Source: GoodReads

Out of all the books I had in my January TBR list, I think I was the most excited for Dreadnought which was a superhero book featuring a trans main character.  That in itself had so much potential and it was an #ownvoices book which made the prospect of it feel even better.  The sad truth of it was, when it came down to it Dreadnought just wasn’t  a good book.  So much, I DNF’d it.

Before I go into my criticisms though I want to praise the book for what it did do right: the premises.

The premises was just awesome.  A trans character being a superhero and fighting crime, talk about empowering.  I had great hopes for this one especially since it’s not often we have a book featuring a non-WASP character that isn’t an “issue” oriented book.

However….well, this book didnt’ focus that much on superheroes.

Mostly it was about Danielle coming out as trans in probably one of the most awful ways possible-her body changes in the first chapter of the story so she’s sort of forced to reveal her true self like it or not.  And unfortunately, pretty much everyone acts like a MAGA asshole.

I kid you not.

Her father is transphobic and her mother is just an enabler.  Which would be fine for the book if there was anyone that Danny could talk too.  But her best friend is a perverted dick and other than a new girl where I think-hope-something might be brewing between those two she really has no one to talk to and it sucks becuase girl needs to have someone to lend an ear too.

And I get it, trans people often are isolated it’s a sad reality which why having books like this is important, but it just angered me so much and I really wanted there to be some mentor or someone else Danny could talk too.  Even a trans support group would be nice.

But nope.

The superhero aspect of the book was extremely weak.  The powers and origin stories are explained in paragraphs at most and there’s really not much to them.  Even fighting crime is sort of boring.  And of course, we get the obligatory asshole superhero transphobic character too.

Really, I would say that a good 80% of the cast in this book were transphobic or pervy.

It is not good.

The vague world building with hodgepodge to non-existent plot made the book hardly enjoyable to the point where I reluctantly DNF’d it.

Which I’m actually sort of upset about because again that premises.

Sigh.  I feel like this book might be interesting enough if you’re not trigger sensitive to extreme bigotry but really everything is only halfway done.  It really would’ve been nice had this book lived up to half of the potential that it had.

Overall Rating: A DNF.

Plot Not Character: Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones

The X-Men meets Ocean’s Eleven in this edge-of-your-seat sci-fi adventure about a band of “super” criminals.

When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She’s what’s known as an illusionist…She’s also a thief.

After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn’t?

The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against the government that could cost them their lives.

Source: GoodReads

Well, it is a lot like X-Men and Ocean’s Eleven at its bare bones.

Oh, the plot is good.  If you like action and reading about action this is your book.

Me though?

While I might like watching Bruce Willis blow up things on the big screen, it doesn’t really work so much in a book unless I feel the characters.  Because, hello, I don’t see the explosions And that was my problem with Illusive.

Character development is a huge deal for me.  I really can’t connect with a book unless I like some of its characters.  Or at least find something interesting about them.

Well, okay these characters seem interesting enough.  They are basically like X-Men.  Complete with a lead who’s suppose to be like Mystique.  But she’s not.

Well, obviously she’s not blue.

But she’s not a lot of things, like having a freaking personality. Or being remotely interesting.

I didn’t feel any sympathy for her, despite the fact that she was literally in a bad position.

That is sad.

But I didn’t hate her either.

That’s something.

Maybe it was how the book was written.  I’m not a huge fan of third, but I can understand when it is used properly.  And I do think that Lloyd-Jones was right in writing this in third, I just couldn’t connect at all.  And even though it probably wouldn’t have benefited the plot, maybe (just maybe) I could’ve connected to Ciere more.

The other point of view was even worse.  Daniel was more or less merely narrating so that the reader could know what the evil government was up too.

Necessary, but sort of pointless.

Despite the fact that I couldn’t connect to this class of X-Men it did have  wasn’t a terrible book.  As I said before, I enjoyed the plot and world building.  It was good I dare say.  But because I couldn’t connect with the characters, I lost interest.

And you’d think that would be hard to do.  With an X-Men like universe.

I mean, I don’t like some of the X-Men cast, but that doesn’t mean I gave up on the show.

Never mind, the show/comic had some characters I actually liked.

I didn’t like anyone here, except maybe the side characters and that was stretching it.

This also wasn’t exactly a shippy book.  Which I know some people are going to like.  Me myself, I love ships, but sometimes it is nice getting away from will so and so get together. However, I think this book was in definite need of something and maybe a ship or two was it.

I had Illusive on my shelf for awhile.  I like superheroes, and while there were aspects of this one that were done quite tastefully, the character development (or lack of it) sort of ruined the book for me.

Overall Rating: It was a DNF, but the part I read I’m giving it a C+.