Archenemies is the second entry in Marissa Meyer’s Renegades trilogy. My initial reaction to this book was that it slightly edged out the first in the series. After a little more time to reflect, I think that more of a reaction to the last 60 pages than to the book as a whole.
Pacing is a bit of an issue. Most of the story centers around Adrian and Nova struggling with their feelings for one another, and their feelings about the Renegades and society as a whole. There’s not a lot of action until the very end of the book. Now, I loved the adrenaline rush of the ending (I went through a lot of emotions in the last sixty pages) and that was enough to make up for the slower parts for me, but I’m also a reader who doesn’t mind a bit of angsting or philosophical introspection.
I was also a little disappointed in Nova this time around. In Renegades, her attitude about heroes was more understandable and sympathetic to me. She felt let down and betrayed, she pointed out logical flaws in the system, and through her POV, you could feel her eyes being opened, even if it didn’t really change her opinion. In Archenemies, Nova still has logical arguments against society’s structure, but every reminder of how the Renegades let her family down feels less like it’s motivated by true emotion and more like an excuse not to change, and her commitment to the Anarchists’ plan feels more like willfully disregarding what she learned in Renegades because it would be too complicated to think of lying to her new friends as anything more than “on mission”. Adrian, on the other hand, seemed to continue moving forward in his character arc from Renegades, so that was something.
Now, in my review of Renegades, I was almost certain I knew who Lady Indomitable’s killer would turn out to be. After reading book two, I still believe my hunch is correct, but I now suspect Meyer has put a twist on the how and the why of that particular death that I hadn’t originally considered. If I’m right…that is going to be a gut punch, but a pretty satisfyingly original one.
A new plot device called “Agent N” is introduced in Archenemies, bringing up ethical questions of forcibly removing prodigies’ powers if they use them dangerously, and what exactly constitutes “dangerous.” This is a necessary addition as it is what eventually moves the plot forward, but it isn’t exactly a new idea in the world of super-hero fiction. The Flash on the CW is actually circling the idea right now, and X-Men: The Last Stand tackles it pretty thoroughly through its Mutant Cure plot line. I’m more interested in the plot line tying Nova’s father’s ability, the “star” Adrian made, and the mysterious material that seems to be responsible for so many prodigy-related items and where that’s going.
All in all, I give Archenemies 3 stars and I look forward to finding out how it all ends in the next book!