Renegade: Elemental, Book 3

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Renegade: Elemental, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Repetitive action scenes undermine trilogy's end.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

As with the other volumes in the Elemental series, Renegade is set on Roanoke Island and the ruins of Fort Sumter. There's not much in the way of local color in this installment, though.

Positive Messages

Renegade explores how people with very different agendas can learn to trust one another. It also emphasizes the power that comes through forgiveness, for your own faults and those of others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Thomas sees himself as both a threat and a protector for his family and friends. His elemental powers often force him to keep his distance from those he cares about, but he's not afraid to put himself in harm's way when others are in danger.


As with the other volumes in the series, Renegade contains violent scenes, often involving gun or knife fights. Thomas and his fellow elementals combine their powers to burn their enemies to death. His friends and family are under constant threat of being bitten by plague-bearing rats.


Thomas has feelings for Rose, but because his elemental powers are dangerous to her, he cannot risk physical intimacy.


"Hell" and "damn" used once or twice.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Renegade is the concluding volume of a trilogy begun in Elemental and continued in Firebrand. Set in a dystopian near-future in North Carolina's Outer Banks, it features pirates, a colony of treacherous refugees, and a group of survivors with the power to command the elements. Gunshots, stabbings, rat bites, and death by elemental fire occur, but gratuitous description is rare. Because Thomas is afraid of touching anyone emotionally close to him, there is little sexual content.

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What's the story?

After learning that his long-missing mother is alive after all, Thomas demands that his shipmates return to Roanoke Island to rescue her. But pirates are still in hot pursuit, and hordes of plague-carrying rats seem to await them wherever they might land. Thomas has learned that he has the ability to combine elements, but will he be able to trust himself and his allies enough to reclaim his home?

Is it any good?

Although it wraps up the continuing plot threads from the previous volume, RENEGADE feels somehow unnecessary until the very end. There are fresh revelations and narrative twists, but much of the book is taken up by the repetition of previous actions: boat chases, shoot-outs, attacks by rats, and squabbling among Thomas and his family. The catchphrase for this volume is: "The power of many is greater than the power of one." Perhaps two books in this series would have had a greater impact than three.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why postapocalyptic stories are so popular in movies, TV, and books. Why do readers enjoy imagining a near future where every day is a struggle to survive?

  • Would you be willing to sacrifice your own life for somebody else's?

  • How do people develop trust in each other? What role can trust play in learning to forgive someone?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science-fiction and dystopian novels

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