A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Archenemies is the second book in a superhero series by Marissa Meyer, the best-selling author of the Lunar Chronicles series and Heartless. Expect a similar level of fantasy violence as good guys and bad guys use their superpowers and guns to battle. A few brief moments of gore include the torture of a captive, a head crushed, and a spear through a boy's chest. There are continued references to the main characters' tragic beginnings: Both had family members killed. Romantic elements stick to kissing, groping, and staying the night. Characters are culturally diverse and there's a positive depiction of an adoptive family with two dads. The story includes some tough questions for readers to ponder: the difference between revenge and justice, and the dangers of absolute power.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In ARCHENEMIES, the Renegades have a new, dangerous toy: Agent N. It's a serum that can neutralize the powers of any prodigy (person with powers) who operates outside of their strict law-and-order world. Both Adrian and Nova are alarmed about the invention. Adrian was just about to tell his superhero dads/leaders of the Renegades about his alter-ego, the Sentinel. He was sure he'd get in trouble for some of his vigilante heroism, but never thought it could mean the loss of his powers. Nova knows if she's caught as a spy for the Anarchists they won't hesitate to take her powers, and the powers of her friends and the uncle who raised her, Ace Anarchy himself. But Ace spots an opportunity. If they can steal the serum, none of the Renegades will be safe from it either. To do that, Nova will have to get even cozier with her enemies, especially Adrian, who she's already falling for.
Is it any good?
Like the first book, this superhero spy sequel takes a while to warm up the plot lines, romance, and intrigue, but pulls it together in a heroic flourish near the end. And it goes deep with themes about power struggles and human rights. When a super villain is stripped of his power while a horde of Renegades cheer for their new weapon, the line between good and bad guys softens and things get interesting. Especially when both Nova, the spy, and Adrian, the secret vigilante, both voice their fears about what this means for them and society.
If only all the layers of the story held that depth and cohesion. Nova and Adrian are stagnant characters in Archenemies. Sure, they let themselves fall for each other, and they have some sweet moments, but they both get stuck in their thinking and author Marissa Meyer gets stuck repeating why Nova still wants revenge and why Adrian can't tell his dads or Nova about his alter-ego. Their convictions don't stand up, and it's a relief when the action unfolds at the end. All the storylines converge well here and supers get to do what they do best: wield their cool powers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about revenge vs. justice in Archenemies. What is the difference? What are the main characters seeking for the loss of their families?
What does the use of Agent N by the Renegades have to do with human rights?
Will you read the next in the series? What do you think will happen to the main characters? Is there any happy ending possible for both sworn enemies?
- Author: Marissa Meyer
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Superheroes, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Misfits and Underdogs, Puppets
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
- Publication date: November 6, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 496
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: October 22, 2020
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