It amazed Nova that he could create something real and tangible out of nothing. He could go on like this forever, creating a dream within a dream within a dream.
This review may contain spoilers for Renegades – I will be discussing Archenemies (spoiler free) in the context of the previous book in the series.
Rating: 5 stars!
The Renegades so far:
At the end of Renegades (review here) we had the explosive (ha) battle where Nova finally managed to pull the trigger and kill the Detonator to protect her secret (and maybe to protect Adrian too), and the ridiculously cliff-hangery reveal that Ace Anarchy has been alive and well and less than a mile away the entire time. Nova’s identity is still a secret and her cover is intact even if her heart isn’t quite so well protected, and the Adrian/Nova/Sentinel/Nightmare twisty secret quadrangle reveal is still looming in the distant future.
In Archenemies, Nova and Adrian’s lives are getting more complicated. They’re growing closer and even Nova can’t pretend that all of her feelings are just a ruse, but the stakes are only getting higher. The Anarchists have a secret weapon that nobody in the Renegades could possibly anticipate and they still have Nova hidden in the wings at Renegade HQ. But the Renegades have been hiding something too, something that would destroy not just the Anarchists but any prodigy that doesn’t toe the line. One thing that Nova and Adrian are completely united on is that this secret development could mean the end of both Gatlon City, and the world that Nova and Adrian grew up in.
What did I think?
I have to admit that Archenemies was a weaker series entry than Renegades or Supernova. Writing this after finishing the series, it’s hard to separate out the events of Archenemies from the later book. I ended up making a list of things I remembered post-Renegades and splitting them until I remembered where Archenemies ended. I’d say that’s because I marathon-read these books, but I had a week’s break between the two and I really do think that Archenemies suffered a bit with middle-book filler. Note that I still gave it 5 stars, though, because it really, really, picks up in the second half.
I think the reason I prefer Renegades is that it was very action-driven. I usually care more about characters than plot, but Archenemies went a little bit too far the other way. After Renegades left us on the cliff-hanger that Ace had been alive the whole time, it’s basically not discussed for ages. The other plot threads left at the end of Renegades, like Adrian’s mother’s murder, were left alone too and it just felt a little bit strange after how exciting the end of book one was. The first two thirds of Archenemies were slower, and while I enjoyed the character moments I think they could have been more concise. It was so good to see Adrian and Nova’s relationship develop, and to see brotherly moments between Adrian and Max, but I wanted a little more punchy action or superhero drama – even a patrol sub-plot would have helped. It meant that Archenemies was slow through the middle, drawn out in character development that wasn’t moving the plot along, before it picked up hard in the last third of the book. It just would have been nice to have the character development and the plot move along together.
The ending though, holy wow. There was so much left up in the air at the end of Archenemies. I only had to wait a week for my copy of Supernova to show up so that I could read on, but I feel for anyone who had to wait a full year to read the resolution to this series. It felt like everything had gone wrong that could possibly go wrong at the end of this book, and like Supernova had to start explosively. There is a lot to be resolved in Supernova, a lot and things are bound to be intense. Nova has definitely thrown caution to the wind, and I was nearly feral with excitement by the time I hit the last page.
The only other thing I can say without flooding the review with spoilers is that the Renegades? They need to chill, holy fuck. One of the major aspects of Archenemies was ‘Agent N’, which I won’t discuss in much detail because this is a spoiler-free review. Agent N made me repeatedly say ‘what the FUCK’ out loud. Just a quick little side-slide into crimes against humanity, prisoner experimentation and punishment without trial in my superheroes? Y’all are being villainous as hell, Renegades, pack it in if you want to be the ‘good guys’.
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