Ah, Marissa Meyer, you writer of my guilty pleasure books. Since I was on such a roll catching up and finishing the book series I had started, I thought I’d pick this one up at the end of 2020, just to end the year with something breezy and fun. Spoilers for Renegades and Archenemies below.
by Marissa Meyer
Published: Feiwel & Friends, 2019
eBook: 560 pages
Series: Renegades #3
My rating: 6/10
Opening line: Everyone has a nightmare.
All’s fair in love and anarchy. . .
‘Supernova’, the epic conclusion to ‘New York Times’ best-selling author Marissa Meyer’s thrilling Renegades Trilogy, finds Nova and Adrian struggling to keep their secret identities concealed while the battle rages on between their alter egos, their allies, and their greatest fears come to life. Secrets, lies, and betrayals are revealed as anarchy once again threatens to reclaim Gatlon City.
Supernova starts just where Archenemies left off, with a gravely injured Max, a captured Ace Anarchy, and not a single resolved problem. Nova’s secret identity is still somewhat safe, but Adrian has revealed his being the Sentinel to his closest friends (not including Nova, despite their boyfriend/girlfriend status). The moment I’ve been waiting for since the first book – the unravelling of secrets, the speaking of truths, the resolution of this brewing war between Renegades and Anarchists – must finally happen. Buuuuut Marissa Meyer takes her sweet, sweet time with that.
To be honest, keeping the ruse going for two entire (not small) books already felt like a bit of a stretch. After all, we know that once the secrets are out, there is still a lot of work to do if the protagonists want to unite Renegades and Anarchists and actually make the world better. The issues around which the war is built are serious ones – not just who gets to decide who’s a hero and who’s a villain but also civilians relying too much on prodigies and thus not learning important skills. If there is always a healer prodigy around, why study medicine, after all? Both Nova and Adrian see these problems and while they want to make things better in their own way, they don’t seem to grasp that simply killing a certain group of prodigies (Renegades or Anarchists) won’t magically change the system.
Marissa Meyer spends hundreds of pages in this book with mostly useless stuff. What I really wanted at this point was for the secrets to come out, for Nova and Adrian to work out their issues – lying to each other for months while at the same time falling in love makes things a bit difficult, after all – and for the prodigies of Gatlon City to figure out this war and where to go from there. But what we get is banter between the Renegades team, reminders of things that happened before, Adrian hating Nightmare, Nightmare hating the Sentinel, the Renegades not listening to differing opinions, the Anarchists not listening to differing opinions, and basically more variations of everything that we’ve already read in the previous two books. It gets tedious, let me tell you.
When at one point, it truly seems like Nova’s game is over, I felt a glimmer of hope. But nope, Meyer and her protagonist decided to hold on to their ruse and keep milking it for as long as they could. What was exciting in the first book became ridiculous at this point. Seriously, I didn’t even care anymore if Nova was found out because the plot would just conveniently contort in a way that makes everyone believe Nova’s lies despite the overwhelming evidence against her.
Adrian’s secret Sentinel identity lost its thrill as well. Let’s face it, he may have broken some Renegades rules but he did in fact mostly save lives and help people. So where’s the huge problem with him coming out with the truth? Sure, people will be disappointed that he lied to them but in the end, the Sentinel is a good guy who just has a problem with authority.
There are glimpses of the deeper themes of this story. Two factions who are sworn enemies aren’t actually all that different from each other and some of the issues the Renegades raise would find nothing but agreement in the Anarchist camp and vice versa. This whole idea of there not being any “villains” but just people who fall on different areas of a value spectrum was a great one and I would have loved if it had been explored in more depth. I commend Meyer for using show-don’t-tell to make her readers think for themselves but the most important part – the characters – still seemed rather rigid in their beliefs, even after figuring out for themselves that “hero” and “villain” are arbitrary definitions that don’t really say much.
The introduction of Agent N – the neutralizing chemical that can strip any superhero of their powers forever – was a major plot point in Archenemies and I loved (from a storytelling point of view) the implications it raised. Now the Renegades want to use Agent N on all the convicted villains who have been imprisoned since the Age of Anarchy, and it is mostly Nova who raises the question of whether rehabilitation shouldn’t be attempted first, before taking away someone’s powers, something that defines them as a person. Many of the “convicted” villains didn’t even have a trial, they were simply branded evil by the Renegade High Council. When you look at this kind of “justice system”, it’s easy to understand Nova’s continued hatred for the Renegades, but it also kind of makes her Renegade friends look like idiots. Who in their right mind would condone such a system?
Although it takes ages to get there, the truth eventually does come out. And not just about Nova and Adrian’s respective secrets but also about some other questions that have been posed in the very first book. We know how Nova’s family died and how she was saved by Ace Anarchy and raised by the Anarchists. We also know how Adrian’s mother died, although not who killed her. The revelation of the latter was actually pretty cool and surprising and that’s all I can say without spoiling or giving hints that are too obvious.
Nova has also held on to her father’s bracelet since the first book and the magical “star” jewel that fits into it since the second book. Any reader will know that these items must have some significance – and they do! I didn’t find this revelation to be quite that original but it made for an exciting ending at least.
The ending as such was pretty epic, with battle scenes, switching loyalties, and more dark secrets revealed. I enjoyed reading it because that’s what I’d been hoping for all along. A clash between Renegades and Anarchists, between Nova and Adrian, between all the other prodigies who think they must choose a side. I’m not spoiling anything here but I found that after a story that took so many pages to show that there is no pure good or evil, things fell into place rather too neatly. We all knew it had to come down to Nova’s decision on whether to betray her uncle and the people who raised her or the Renegades and the friends she’s made. With a last minute cheap twist and an over-the-top villain, this decision was made super easy, taking away the moral and psychological conflict that would have existed otherwise. It just felt cheap! Epic and fun to read action sequences, but still emotionally cheapened.
I’m not sure if there is a sequel planned but the epilogue certainly still holds a little twist in store and sets up a potential new story in this world. As much as I adore Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, I don’t know that I’ll be reading another book set in the Renegades universe. I do like Marissa Meyer’s develpment as a writer. Her characters may still be rather two-dimensional but the stories she tells show way more depth than, say, Cinder did. Ah, who am I kidding. I’ll read whatever else she writes, because despite the books’ flaws, they are always fun, with original ideas, and cute romances. And sometimes that’s exactly what I need.
MY RATING: 6/10 – Good