Series: Renegades #2
Published: November 6, 2018
Time is running out. Together, they can save the world. But are they each other’s worst nightmare?
Nova’s double life is about to get a lot more complicated:
As Insomnia, she is a full-fledged member of the Renegades, a syndicate of powerful and beloved superheroes. She works with Adrian’s patrol unit to protect the weak and maintain order in Gatlon City.
As Nightmare, she is an Anarchist—a group of villains who are determined to destroy the Renegades. Nova wants vengeance against the so-called heroes who once failed her when she needed them the most.
But as Nova, her feelings for Adrian are deepening, despite the fact that he is the son of her sworn enemies and, unbeknownst to Nova, he has some dangerous secrets of his own.
In this second installment of the Renegades trilogy, Nova, Adrian, and the rest of their crew—Ruby, Oscar, and Danna—are faced with escalating crime in Gatlon City, while covert weapons and conflicting missions have Nova and Adrian questioning not only their beliefs about justice but also the feelings they have for each other.
The line between good and evil has been blurred, but what’s clear to them both is that too much power could mean the end of their City—and the world—as they know it.
When I reviewed Renegades, the first book of this series, I praised its nuanced exploration of what makes a hero vs. a villain and defended it against other reviewers’ criticisms that it was too slow and boring–so I am disappointed to report that my strongest impressions of Archenemies are 1) some of the nuance is lost and 2) it felt very long. Overall, I still think Meyer is a talented writer, and this is still a strong book, but it doesn’t have quite the same magic and excitement as the first installment.
I believe Meyer is a more thoughtful writer than she often gets credit for, as readers tend to focus on the action of the plots and the swoon-worthy romances, so a series that features humans with superpowers and asks what the right or wrong ways to use those powers are is a series that plays to her strengths tackling complex questions. I like the gray areas here, as the supposed “heroes” have a lot of flaws, and the supposed “villains” actually have some good points about how the world should be run.
However, Meyer loses some of the nuance in Nova’s characterization here. Nova is an Anarchist infiltrating the Renegades, and obviously the struggle is that she starts to see the good sides of the Renegades, the very people she used to think were so wrong that she had to overthrow them. Unfortunately, Meyer does such a good job of depicting Nova’s growing empathy for the Renegades that I no longer saw her as an Anarchist, no longer thought there was any real mental conflict. Nova’s supposed Anarchist leanings felt forced to me here, and drawing out this personal struggle over three books (when it was supposed to be two books) seems unnecessary.
Which brings me to the second point; the book is long, and it feels long. I like to think I’m okay with “slow paced” books and don’t usually have a problem with them, but I struggled a bit here. You wouldn’t think a book about superheroes could be a bit boring, but Anarchists is. Again, I think this could have been solved if Meyer stuck to the plan of writing two books. When authors suddenly decide their series is going to be 600 pages longer than originally planned, good things don’t often follow. (Looking at you, Christopher Paolini…)
That said, I did enjoy the book. The world-building is detailed, and the characterization of the other Renegades is believable and detailed. I was invested in the budding romances that a few of the characters had, and I loved the addition of a new Renegade with an understated power–investing others with a sense of wonder at the world. Also: Max is amazing in this book.
So I’m still giving the book four stars. I wanted to spend the bulk of the review explaining the two things I was disappointed in, but the reality is that the rest of the novel has a lot going for it. Also, I don’t think I need to really convince people to read or not read this installment because most readers will make that decision based on how much they liked the first book in the series, so I’d rather focus on discussion here.
What are your thoughts?