All You Need Is Love

RenegadesThere were 400 superheroes affiliated with the Renegades, Gatlon City’s premier justice league. Led by a five-member council, the Renegades were former vigilantes who took control of their city and established a sensible legislative purview.

Like most superheroes, the Renegades were an earnest bunch who were arguably doing the best they could. They dutifully passed laws to protect their constituencies and provided infrastructure support whenever possible.

But just because they could turn invisible or control water didn’t mean they had any governing skills. Nine years ago, the Renegades saved Gatlon City from the scourge of villainy. But the government they installed was inadequate. It’s hard to represent your citizenry when you’re lounging comfortably at the top of an 82-story skyscraper. Talk about being disconnected from reality.

The whole thing was a failed social experiment, according to Nova Artino, a spy for the resistance and a notorious supervillain named Nightmare. “The city was ruled by dictators who had no idea what they were doing.”

Artino’s solution was anarchy. She was all about personal freedom, personal responsibility; about taking care of yourself and your own concerns, rather than expecting anyone to take care of you. She wanted to do away with oppression and regulations that only served a small group of (super) people.

And that, more or less, was the big messy conflict at the center of Marissa Meyer’s latest novel. What was better, she mused, freedom of choice or freedom from choice? Nova and her friends embraced the upside of anarchy, and the Renegades stubbornly upheld their brand of authoritative social control.

But who was right? It’s the sort of argument freshman philosophy students have been debating for years. And certainly it’s been a pressing question in every YA dystopian novel published in the past decade. Meyers, to her credit, allows her superheroes to hash it out properly on the page.

Sixteen-year-old Nova was raised by Ace Anarchy (né Alec Artino), her rabblerousing uncle. Predictably she’s loyal to him throughout the book and uses her sleep-inducing abilities for maximum mischief. But things get complicated for her when she meets a cute Renegade scout named Adrian Everhart with powers like Harold and his purple crayon.

No matter what their personal allegiances may be, the two teenagers can’t resist the thrall of their prickly hormones. As you’d expect, their budding Romeo and Juliet-like romance threatens to crack Gatlon City wide open like a raw egg. Freedom of choice? Freedom from choice? The question is moot. Love trumps politics and philosophical dissonance every time.

[Renegades / By Marissa Meyer / First Printing: November 2017 / ISBN: 9781250044662]

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