Renegades, Book 1

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Renegades, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Slow start, but much intrigue in supervillain/hero tale.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 36 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

What could happen when society breaks down and how hard it is to maintain the balance of personal freedoms vs. safety and order -- of course, here superheroes are added into the mix, but the ideas are similar. Readers steeped in the superhero genre will want to make comparisons between this world of Renegades and other superhero worlds.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about bravery and overcoming fear, prejudice, and loss. Much hatred and violence is driven by prejudice and a desire for revenge. Hatred diminishes with the building of relationships and understanding. Heroism isn't about having superpowers but about what you do with or without them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nova is a conflicted character, at first bent on revenge at all costs. As she turns spy, she must get to know her sworn enemies. Her focus stays on taking down the superhero government, but she refuses to harm those on her team. Adrian has secrets as well, and he hides much from his friends. His desire to be heroic can lead those close to him into dangerous situations. Main characters are diverse: Nova is half-Italian, half-Filipino; Adrian has dark skin; and a member of their team has long dreadlocks (that turn into butterflies).


The most disturbing violence takes place before the main story is set. Six-year-old Nova watches her parents shot down in front of her and hears her baby sister killed. Adrian's mother is killed when he's young. A war between superheroes and villains nine years before killed many and is discussed often. Battles in the present involve guns with real bullets (killing two), tranquilizer guns laced with poison (almost killing one), stun guns (stunning many), and various superpowers that wield stingers (temporarily paralyzing some, causing pain to others), bombs (causing much damage), fire (severely burning one), and poisonous gases (killing some). A fall on glass causes heavy bleeding. Story of a baby thrown off a bridge because of his powers.  


A near kiss and much flirting. Talk of the short affair that resulted in Adrian's birth.


"Ass" once.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mention of main character mixing martinis with adult character when she was young -- no mention if she drank them. A glass of wine set out.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Renegades is the first book in a two-book superhero series by Marissa Meyer, the best-selling author of the Lunar Chronicles series and Heartless. As in every first intro to a superhero world, you'll find the main characters had a rough start. When she was 6, Nova watched her parents shot in front of her and heard her baby sister being killed. She's raised by villains. Adrian's superhero mother dies, and he's raised by a superhero dad couple. A war between superheroes and villains nine years before killed many and is discussed often. Battles in the present involve guns with real bullets (killing two), tranquilizer guns laced with poison (almost killing one), stun guns (stunning many), and various superpowers that wield stingers (temporarily paralyzing some, causing pain to others), bombs (causing much damage), fire (severely burning one), and poisonous gases (killing some). Readers are offered much food for thought on what could happen if society broke down and how hard it would be to maintain a balance between personal freedoms and safety and order.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bybookishvampire07 May 16, 2020


This book was fantastic! Lots of great lessons - You don't need to have superpowers to be a hero, your background doesn't affect who you are, and one... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byLunartic06 August 1, 2019

Shade never made anybody less gay!

I’m am thirteen and proud to say that I am straight. I am also proud to say that I have to friends (who are girls) that like girls. Since both of my friends are... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bybookfanatic2019 November 30, 2018

This book is the definition of a good superhero story

This book may seem to big and to complex but the meaning of the book and the mood that the author sets for us is so amazing! You do not know who you should chee... Continue reading

What's the story?

In RENEGADES, Nova lives with a small band of anarchists in the subway tunnels, just waiting for their chance to strike out against the Renegade superheroes who run the city of Gatlon. They seize their moment at a parade and Nova, aka Nightmare, takes aim at Captain Chromium from a high building and barely misses. As she flees, she encounters a new superhero on the rooftop: the Sentinel. He fights with fire and can leap high in the air, and his suit is nearly indestructible. Nova escapes with her life that day, and also with a new purpose. She must find out who this Sentinel is and how he possessed all those powers. She worries that the Renegades are using their labs to create super soldiers, and she figures the only way to uncover and sabotage the program is to turn spy and infiltrate their ranks. Meanwhile, the Sentinel, aka Adrian, hides his suit -- from everyone, but especially the Renegades -- and heads home to check on his dad, Captain Chromium. He is upset that Nightmare slipped away from him, and he's determined to find out everything he can to bring her to justice.

Is it any good?

This "if X-men types ran the government" story keeps the often explored superhero genre fresh enough with unique superpowers, spies, and double-crosses, and many layers of secrets. Readers may find it a little hard to dig into this world at first. So many superheroes and supervillains are introduced, it's hard to keep them straight as you learn about the war between them. It doesn't help that they all have real names and their alter-ego names and different powers.

A little frustration is worth it, however, when the main character, Nova, turns spy. The story builds from here, adding tension -- will Nova be found out? -- and adding more sympathetic notes to Nova's character. How long will she be bent on revenge as she learns more about her supposed enemies? And about Adrian. Their love story doesn't get far, which may disappoint readers of author Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series. They know she usually delivers a stellar romantic storyline. There's much romantic room to grow and many secrets to unveil in the next installment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what each side is fighting for in Renegades. Is one side all right or all wrong? What prejudices get in the way of each side seeing the other more fairly?

  • How does the world of Renegades compare with other superhero worlds you've read about in books or seen in movies? 

  • How do you think Nova and Adrian will change in the second and final book?

Book details

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