Renegades Come Out to Play
Hello once again! Has it been two weeks already? Guess so, let's dive in.
First up, we're super excited to record the first episode of a brand new show for the Professional Casual Network of podcasts (professionalcasual.com), that's right, seven shows! What's wrong with us? We'll be recording a second Actual Play, this time Pathfinder 2nd Edition (also known as P2) and Dani will be GMing! Tim bought her a hat and everything. I'm pumped, because I get to be a player again, something I don't get to do very often. The P2 game I joined back in January or so hasn't had it's third session yet (damn COVID), so I'm looking forward to jumping in as just one character again!
Not too much news other than that... life has been keepin' on. Free RPG day is this Saturday, very pumped for new stuff there. I hope to play through P2s Big Trouble in Little Absalom on the show. Warhammer 40K 9th edition launches this Saturday as well with the new box set, Indomitus. I pre-ordered that, so I'll have loads of new models to assemble pretty soon! Oh, the Thanos kit for Marvel: Crisis Protocol came out recently, so we'll be playing the awesome looking new Ultimate Encounter against Thanos tomorrow. I love this way to play the game where two people each build a squad of superheroes to take down one suped-up villain. Thanos's encounter is supposed to be pretty tough, so I'm looking forward to that.
Fiction wise, I've been submitting queries and pitches for Hundred Dollar Heroes. One was returned that I was very confused about. One company only accepts admissions through the mail, which is odd, so I sent in everything that was required a few weeks ago. I got the envelope back with a big REJECTED written in black marker. I was confused, it wasn't even open. Before getting mad though, I checked their submission parameters on their website, and it was changed to them not accepting submissions currently because of COVID. Damn COVID. I'm still a bit annoyed about it, because I sent in my materials before that message was there, but if no one is at their offices because they're housed in NYC, I guess they can't look at it. Mostly I'm annoyed for the time spent, and the money spent on the package and shipping. Oh well, it's all part of the game I guess. It'll be worth it when the Hundred Dollar Heroes are a household name, right?
Speaking of superheroes, the book review for today is for a YA superhero story called Renegades, by Marissa Meyer. I'll have that pasted into the end for ya. As for my 100 Words 100 Days Challenge... unfortunately I haven't been keeping up with it and haven't done a new entry since last blog! Oh well, I've been writing a bit more for the sequel to Lani: Girl Without Fear, the new working title is Lani: New Gods. I like it. The first draft is probably about 1/3rd done, so who knows when that'll get finished. Between editing podcasts, prepping for A Grim Podcast of Perilous Adventure and reading, I don't have a lot of time to write! I need to make time though, you're right.
Let's go do that now! See ya in two weeks! Next Thursday chapter 14 of Big Fiction Energy drops. It's a good one with lots of world building.
Renegades (Renegades Trilogy #1) by Marissa Meyer (https://www.marissameyer.com/)
This might sound ridiculous, but I was actually a little nervous to read this book. I’m a strong believer in reading YA as market research for my own works, and I had been told that Hundred Dollar Heroes sounded like it was inspired by Renegades. That was odd to me because, of course, I hadn’t read Renegades! I was nervous that my story would be too similar to this published work. Luckily, I don’t think that’s the case. Yes, we both have superheroes in a corporate-like setting, we both have a futuristic world, and we both have the line between hero and villain blurred a little, but all of that is surface details. The differences lie in the characters and story.
I’ll try not to compare Renegades to my own work too much, as that’s not what this review is about, but I’ll use my own experience with superheroes as a lens. First off, I liked this book. It was a fast read, which is a big deal for me, as I’m not a fast reader. The 552 pages seemed intimidating at first, this book is thicc! But the opening was very strong and pulled me in quickly. I wanted to know more about this world.
I will say, from here on this review will contain spoilers, so if you plan on reading it, consider the review done after this paragraph. The story follows Nova Artino, a young villain, Nightmare. She was raised by her Uncle, Ace Anarchy, the leader of the Anarchists. The book starts with a bit of history, letting the reader know that this world, or at least Gatlon City, where the story takes place, is set after a semi-apocalypse of villains tried to free prodigies, as the super powered people are called, from lives of persecution and fear (sound familiar?). I liked this, and thought it was setting up Ace to be the good guy. But turns out he wanted to see the downfall of civilization and for prodigies to live in a world where they could be out with their powers. Ace led the Anarchists, so you know they’re actually bad guys. Finally a group of five prodigies, the Renegades, grouped together to bring the Anarchists down. The Renegades became instant celebrities and began to rebuild the city, physically and governmentally. They became the Council and were the governing body.
Phew! That’s a lot for the first two pages! We then meet our protag, Nova. Her family is killed by a rival villain gang before the Renegades bring down Ace. This opening is powerful and shows that Meyer is not pulling punches for her narrative.
Before I delve into the story more, I want to talk about the powers of the prodigies a little bit. Nova has a pretty interesting power, first off, she can touch someone to put them to sleep. Pretty cool. The only catch is that she has to touch them skin-to-skin. She has other kinds of hidden powers as well. She never sleeps, and doesn’t get tired. Wow, it must be nice! She gets to live a life with a third more time than normal people (give or take). She’s used this extra time to develop all kinds of skills, inventing, martial arts, and learning.
One thing I found interesting, and a little repetitive, about the powers was just how many people could just make things. Nova’s dad created objects out of bright strands he wove between his fingers, Captain Chromium could make chromium objects, Red Assassin could make ruby objects from her blood, Sketch drew things and magically made them real, and others. I like this idea a bit, but it seemed very over done.
The story itself was pretty cool, way too predictable in places, but the action was tight (except for when Insomnia fought the Gargoyle, there was a part that I read eight times and still didn’t understand), and the characters were decent. I did feel the romance between Nova and Sketch seemed a bit forced, but then again, I think they were teenagers and laws of attraction and all that. I don’t want to break down the plot too much, but I will say I liked the small twists at the end with the Detonator and how her taunting of Nova came back to haunt her. The big ‘twist’ reveal at the end was one of the examples of being very predictable. I also had kind of hoped that Detonator would have succeeded with her plan more and to have more fallout from that in the second book. Meyer seemed ready to make the story more mature in the first few pages, but took a step back and tamed it a lot for the rest, especially at the climax. Yes, there is death, but the Detonator would have seemed so much worse if she had been even more destructive.
Overall, I give Renegades 4/5 superhero masks. I’m taking the one star away for predictable plot points and a forced romance, but I’ll almost certainly complete the series, so yeah, I recommend checking it out!