Working at a bookstore, I’m privileged to get access to lots of books in the form of advance reader’s copies. But I decided to ignore the large pile of them and read a book that’s been out for several years instead.
In Archenemies, the sequel to Renegades by Marissa Meyer, Nova Artino is still working undercover in the Renegades’ ranks in order to bring them down and so get revenge for the deaths of her parents and sister. Her true allegiance is with the Anarchists, whose loyalty to Ace Anarchy, the man who remade the world, is still strong. But her growing affection for Adrian, son of the most famous Renegades, is proving problematic. Meanwhile, Adrian has a secret of his own that is threatening to be exposed. And both of them are dealing with increasing crime, new weapons that make them question the ethics of everything, and differing beliefs about justice.
I really enjoyed the first book in this trilogy, and this one continues the excitement! (I’m not sure how much I can say without spoilers, but I’ll do my best.)
I still love the main characters, as well as the side characters. Even the ones you might call the “bad guys” are fantastic to read about. They all have distinct personalities and lives, making the world feel interesting and lived-in. Nova and Adrian are still two of my favorites, though I was glad to see more of Simon, Hugh, and Max especially, though I wish we could go a little deeper into Adrian’s relationship with his dads, and also his dads in general.
The excellent action and intrigue continues from the first book, showing how as time goes on, keeping secrets gets harder and harder. It’s cool to see how different this struggle is for both Nova and Adrian, considering their circumstances and motivations. Both have secret identities, but as they grow closer, it’s both entertaining and agonizing to see the doubt and drama that ensues. You just want to shake them and get them to tell each other the truth, but at the same time, can’t help but hope for some big, mid-battle dramatic reveal (at least, I did). And I kind of got that at the end, but only kind of. Maybe in book three.
The revelation of Agent N was intriguing as well. A drug that neutralizes a superhero’s powers has been done before, if I remember the early 2000s X-Men movies well enough, but the way Meyer approaches this feels unique enough. Plus, admittedly, I don’t really remember X-Men that well. I’m looking forward to seeing where this technology leads.
All that said, this book felt very… well, second-book-of-a-trilogy. It’s not that it was bad, it’s that it doesn’t feel like it is its own complete story. The first book felt as if it had a more self-contained plot, with character arcs that reached at least somewhat of a conclusion. There were a few plot threads left loose, but not a lot. This book, on the other hand, just sets up so much for the third book, leaving more questions than answers. The characters have great development, but it’s clearly incomplete. This really can’t be read without finishing the trilogy to be satisfactory. I don’t know that this is a bad thing, because it’s still such a fun ride, but it’s just something I’ve noticed.
In the end, though, Archenemies is a delightful continuation of Renegades. The characters, action, and drama are all fantastic. I doubt this is anyone’s favorite book in the trilogy, as it mostly serves as a bridge between the establishing events of the first book and the (I hope satisfying) concluding volume, but it’s still definitely worth a read. The world Meyer has created here is layered and enticing and populated with amazing characters and settings. And the final conflict in the Renegades headquarters was stunning, leaving me breathless and eager for the last book. Luckily, I don’t have to wait, as it’s over on my bookshelf as I type, and I’ll probably start it in the next few days!