Recommended Age: 13+
Tags: Competition, Crime, Disguise, Diversity, Romance, Superhero
- Moderate violence: physical fights, attempted murder.
- Mild language: insults.
- Mild sexuality: allusions to romance and same gender relationships.
Villains have been defeated and Heroes have taken over the government in this post Age of Anarchy. Villains are now in hiding, hunted by the Renegades, heroes in training led by the very heroes that defeated them years ago. Nova witnessed her family’s murder as a child, believing that the Renegades would save them from the gang members the heroes had sworn to protect them from. But the Renegades never came. Instead, Nova’s Uncle Alec, AKA Ace Anarchy, saved her. She’s been his prodigy ever since, learning everything about her powers and villainy, and most especially, revenge. Adrian was adopted by the two heroes leading the attack on the Anarchists, ever since his mother’s mysterious murder. He’s been a Renegade for basically his whole life, but he’s unsatisfied with the way the heroes control the city but not their own Renegades. He wants more for his home, and the only way to achieve that is through donning a secret identity that even his parents don’t know about.
When Nova forms a new identity and joins the Renegades competition, she never expects to join the very team she is consistently attacking as her alter ego: Nightmare. But as she works with the Renegades to bring justice to the city, Nova must focus on bringing justice for her family and the Anarchists. The more she gets to know the Renegades, the more she discovers that not everything is as it seems, and perhaps the Renegades have more secrets than she realized.
This book portrays a different perspective on superheroes and how the world is affected by the hero/villain dynamic. There is some cheesy dialogue in the interactions between superheroes and super-villains, but what else would we expect from a classic fight between good and evil?
There’s a good amount of depth to both the heroes and villains, showing the price of both losing and gaining power. When the Anarchists reigned, the city was in chaos. Villains cannot truly be controlled, no matter how powerful their leader is. But with the Renegades in charge, the city is safe and orderly. But as the Renegades discover more ways to defeat evil, their desire for complete control could be their downfall.
The characters each have such cool powers that reflect their personalities.
Nova’s ability to both live without sleep and put others to sleep could easily just be something convenient, but she uses it to make herself powerful. The way she uses her skills to train and learn gives her more depth. I like how tough she is, though she does seem a bit narrow minded, probably from spending a good portion of her life underground with bitter villains bent on revenge.
Adrian also has a power that could simply be a convenience for him, but he is very creative with how he uses it. His upbringing of constantly being around heroes and good intentions has made him a natural leader and hero, but he also manages to see the flaws in the system that lead him to create his alter ego, the Sentinel. He believes in his parents and the other leaders of the Renegades, but he sees how some Renegades are more concerned with power than with justice.
It’s really interesting to see the heroes from Nova’s perspective and how that differs when she goes from the villainess Nightmare to the Renegade Insomnia. Her perspective of justice starts to change but it kind of gets yanked out from under her at the end. She makes some startling discoveries, including her feelings for Adrian and the concept that heroes might actually do some good.
The ending was a bit sudden and the beginning was a bit slow, but the world building is top notch, the characters are unique, and the spin on a popular themed story is fresh.
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