Archenemies (2018) – Marissa Meyer

Title:Archenemies (Renegades 2)
Author:Marissa Meyer
Date published:2018
Publisher:Macmillan Publishing
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is the second book in Marissa Meyer’s Renegades trilogy. The first novel, Renegades (2015) follows the lives of a group of superheroes – the kind of superheroes that wear capes and save people. The novel is set in the fictional city of Gatlon where a small and privileged portion of the population are ‘prodigies’. The prodigies have super powers, and they are both revered and feared by the rest of Gatlon. Ruling Gatlon are an elite few known as the Renegades whose leaders, Captain Chromium and The Dread Warden have been keeping the city in check for many years. Their enemies are a group of prodigies known as The Anarchists who were once ruled by Ace Anarchy, a prodigy who did not believe in the strict regime of The Renegades. In a great battle Ace was defeated and presumed dead. The Renegades headquarters was set up and young prodigies from all over flocked to Gatlon to compete for a spot as a fully fledged Renegade destined to keep Gatlon safe and help save the world.

Our hero is Sketch, a Renegade who can draw anything and make it come to life. His civilian name is Adrian Everhart and he is the adopted son of Captain Chromium and The Dread Warden. He also just so happens to take on the identity of another prodigy, The Sentinel, and this he keeps a secret from his family and friends because The Sentinel is a bit of a vigilante.

Nova is a prodigy who can make her victims fall into a deep sleep. Known as Nightmare as a member of the Anarchists, she also goes undercover as the Renegade Insomnia. Nova’s mission after becoming a Renegade is to steal Ace Anarchy’s helmet back from the Renegades who have kept it locked away since the battle. Unbeknownst to the Renegades Ace is alive and biding his time until the helmet is returned and he can seek revenge.

In Renegades we are introduced to a number of prodigies whose powers are as unique as their characters. Some have the power of invisibility, the ability to manifest fears, manipulate water, and cause earthquakes. It is the Renegades’ hope that prodigies will only use their powers for the overall good. During her time spent as a spy Nova becomes more and more frustrated with Adrian and his friends’ eternal belief that there is simply no shade of grey – the Anarchists are the villains and the Renegades are the heroes and that’s all there is to it.

Nova and Adrian also have a mounting attraction for one another which makes things very difficult when they are supposed to be enemies, and can also not be honest with each other about their dual identities. They both still battle with their own tragic pasts and the need to exact revenge on those that long ago did them harm. Nightmare is also supposed to be dead, having been killed in the final battle in Renegades. Of course Nightmare is still very much alive…

In Archenemies a new and very frightening nemesis appears in the form of an almost deadly substance known as ‘Agent N’. With the advent of this extreme chemical the Renegades finally have a way to completely eradicate the Anarchists (and any other prodigy who refuses to play by the rules). In the meantime Nova finds herself a new job in the artifacts department of Renegades HQ which she hopes will help her discover the location of Ace’s helmet. Adrian meanwhile has discovered a way to help his step brother Max, whose life has been spent in quarantine due to the dangerous talent he has of being able to absorb the power of any prodigy he comes into contact with.

For Nova whose parents and sister died many years ago, the Anarchists became her family after Ace Anarchy adopted her. With her growing affection for Adrian Nova feels torn between her loyalty to her ‘family’, and the feeling of belonging she now has as a member of the Renegades. Her greatest fear is that one day she will have to stop lying and reveal herself as an Anarchist and risk losing Adrian forever.

Meyer’s sequel to Renegades is an inspired addition to the series. The author has created a marvelous world that is both post-apocalyptic in its make-up, and reminiscent of a noirish Gotham City. I have fallen in love with Nova and Adrian’s stories, and the completely fascinating world of super powers and the notion of morality. I am both excited and weary to read the concluding novel, Supernova (2019) as it will mean an end to the characters I have come to love and will most likely never forget. Having never had any particular interest in superheroes and super powers I am grateful for Marissa Meyer’s gentle reminder that it’s okay to imagine what it feels like to fly.

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