CW’s: Violence, Torture?
Nova’s double life is about to get a lot more complicated: As Insomnia, she is a full-fledged member of the Renegades, a syndicate of powerful and beloved superheroes. She works with Adrian’s patrol unit to protect the weak and maintain order in Gatlon City.
As Nightmare, she is an Anarchist—a group of villains who are determined to destroy the Renegades. Nova wants vengeance against the so-called heroes who once failed her when she needed them the most.
But as Nova, her feelings for Adrian are deepening, despite the fact that he is the son of her sworn enemies and, unbeknownst to Nova, he has some dangerous secrets of his own.
In this second installment of the Renegades trilogy, Nova, Adrian, and the rest of their crew—Ruby, Oscar, and Danna—are faced with escalating crime in Gatlon City, while covert weapons and conflicting missions have Nova and Adrian questioning not only their beliefs about justice but also the feelings they have for each other.
The line between good and evil has been blurred, but what’s clear to them both is that too much power could mean the end of their City—and the world—as they know it.
“Nothing is as black and white as people want to pretend. Doing good and doing harm aren’t mutually exclusive.”
“Once we have total power, what’s to keep us from becoming villains ourselves?”
Once again the book shines with its nuanced discussion about morality and the nature of being human! ❤ I ADORE how Archenemies continues to handle the dichotomy of good/evil, hero/villain so well, showing that they are a continuum and not two polar opposites. You can be both good AND bad, hero AND villain, something that the quote above (said by Nova) perfectly illustrated: when it comes to humanity things ate never as black and white as people like to think. Instead everyone has the capacity to cause harm and do good, something we sometimes tend to forget because it’s easier to just assume someone is irrevocably bad and a villain, as it’s easier to judge them. I think that’s what both sides are doing: both renegades and Anarchists have a clear enemy that they want to get rid of, someone they see as the ultimate worst thing in this world that shouldn’t exist. However, through seeing Nova and Adrian’s perspective we continue to grasp that people are more than the boxes we put them in. The Anarchists are Nova’s family and while they do bad things and cause chaos, they are also humans with flaws and desires and memories. The Renegades have a lot of problems with continuing to put themselves above all others and enforcing their code, while everyone who disagrees is automatically an enemy. However, even though Adrian’s dads are far from perfect and are headed a dangerous way, one cannot deny that they are also loving fathers and trying to do their best. I love how the author manages to explore both sides with nuance, so that we cannot help but root for them while simultaneously also disagree with some of their actions. No one here is a stereotype, they are all as realistic as all humans are, even though not all of the characters want to see that. I could go on for days about how well explored the theme in the books is and why that makes them so strong without any need for a super action-packed plot. The fous is always on the characters ad how they fit into a team, perfectly woven together!
Agent N perfectly illustrates what I mentioned above, as it raises a lot of questions about the power dynamics in Gatlon and who reserves themselves the right to decide over other people’s life and powers. We see a lot of Nova’s huge reservations about the new substance that has the power to neutralize a prodigy’s abilities and is kw being used on criminals and prodigies who don’t follow the Renegades codes. I’m inclined to agee with Nova, as this can be so easily abused, something that I’m surprised no one has considered, given that the Renegade teams have their own animosities (e-g. between Frostbite’s and Adrian’s team). So it could be easily used in revenge or out of hatred, as the effects cannot be reserved and eventual ‘mistakes’ would have grave consequences I definitely find his troubling, as it’s another power tool that is connected with the code, which even Adrian admits is constantly changing and has not been voted on. The Renegades also experimented on Anarchist prisoners (my poor boy Winston 😭), using them as lab rats and thinking they have the right to take away their abilities, even though they are an integral part of who they are and as we see in Winston, suddenly losing them can have psychological consequences. However, the Anarchists are no better when it comes to Agent N. They are only against it, because it could hurt them (and not against the concept in general), and are already planning how to use it against the Renegades in return. I like that we do see Nova feeling uncomfortable when Ace talks of Max (who helped crate the Agent N) as a tool to be used, as he has no qualms about using other people. In general, I agree with Nova’s opinion in the first book, that carries over here too, that the humans are coming to rely too much on the Renegades and giving them all the power, instead of taking charge of their own life and realizing that it doesn’t take superpowers to be a hero.
“Honey shone the flashlight straight into the overhang of his hood, where a face should have been but was, instead, only more darkness. Phobia shrank away slightly, blocking the light with the blade of his scythe. “How nice to see you,” said Honey. “I was beginning to think someone might have conducted an exorcism and sent you back to the underworld.”
Nova & Adrian are my chaotic children ❤ They are both hurting me so much, because there are just so many secrets between them and it makes me so nervous, because at some point this is going tp blow into their faces! My heart cannot take it, because they are the most precious humans, the perfect Slythering/Hufflepuff duo that could save the world! They already hate each other’s alter egos, without knowing that it’s the other person, so I’m suffering over here, while my two beloved characters are so oblivious, but all I’m heating is the big blaring alarm. Still, that doesn’t take away from the fact that they are the ultimate OTP and SO soft for each other. Adrian literally painted a room inspired by her, that boy is so smitten (and I mean he was already too far gone in the first book, he’s so in love with Nova oh my god). It was also hilarious watching Nova try to flirt with him “for information” (sure, because there are no feelings involved at all … ), because these idiots are already I love and it was so awkward, that it made laugh. Both are so shy when it comes to their feelings and someone needs to put them together! Nova herself is very slow to trust and struggling as she is planning to move against the Renegades, but “accidentally” fell in love with the adopted son of her two greatest enemies. (They are both disasters, smart yes, but still so much chaos) The highlight was Nova staying over … at his house 😉 Not saying more, but AHHH!
Individually there is also a lot going on with them! Nova is struggling a lot with her loyalties and trying to bring back her uncle so he can fight against the council. She is burdened with being a spy and always paranoid that one tiny mistake will reveal her. Her task is so important, so poor Nova is under a t on of pressure, especially as she is conflicted at times. However, she is so hung up on her revenge and being abandoned by the Renegades once, that she still goes through with it, as she cannot move on from her past. Adrian himself is trying to save everyone by donning the armor of the Sentinel,. thinking he has to be always present and ensure the work is done. However,he does fail at times, as the Renegades aren’t his biggest fan, instead seeing him as a vigilante and criminal. He especially struggles with not being able to tell anyone about it, as Adrian hates lying to his friends.
I loved seeing all the recurring secondary character again! ❤ We saw Adrian’s team again, mainly Ruby and Oscar who have a special place in my heart. Oscar is just a great guy, he is very loyal, funny and loves food, so it’s a given that I’ll always love him. Ruby is also very fierce and witty, I was super happy to see them both together and .. also getting close to each other. They have such a giant crush going on, tat no one wants to admit is there, please guys!!! Just get together. We also see a bit more of Danna, wo was injured and out of the game of the majority of the fist book. However, as she is a bit unto Nova, this is all very complicated. I wanted Nova and her to become friends and I think under different circumstances they could be, but like I said, things between them are not really easy. Then we have a new character called Callum and he is the most precious cinnamon roll ever! He’s Nova’s new coworker and so excited to be working with prodigy artefacts. His good spirit, kindness and positivity is catching, he must be protected at all costs!
I also love the Anarchists so much ❤ they are definitely a bunch of underrated favorites and I live for all the moments when we see them interact with Nova! Leroy is by far my favorite, as he falls a bit into the category of mad/dangerous scientist with his poisons and substances, but the fact still remains that he is Nova’s father figure and her favorite. I need all the content of them being like a dysfunctional family! Honey Harper is also iconic, I love her teasing Nova about Adrian all the time and the fact that she can now shine the light on some of that dating advice 😉 Phobia remains mysterious as always … does he even have a face?? We know nothing about him, so it’s safe to assume that he is up to some shady business, that we’ll hopefully finally see in book 3! I’m 100% convinced that he killed Adrian’s mother back then, as he can instill fear in people!
“To know what this world could look like, what humanity could be, if only we all chose to do our best, to help others, to…to be, well, heroes.”
Like I said before, the plot is always very character-driven. It’s a lot about the characters and their individual struggles and goals. This time everything is all about the Anarchists planning their attack against the Renegades and the threat they are confronted with (mentioned above in the spoiler section). I feel like the pacing is always fantastic and well-done, as I loved reading this book so much. It was a great experience and all the interactions are interesting, leaving me wanting even more! That’s what Archenemies does as well as its predecessor: it manages to make me root for the characters and care about what happens to them!
I was however, a bit surprised that Nova and Adrian’s identities were not revealed to each other, as I thought this for sure would happen. However, now it will definitely hope in the next book, as Adrian now is 100% sure Nightmare is not dead, when he was only having doubts before. This will be one big bang. My personal theory is that the author didn’t plan the big reveal for this book, so she could torture us with happy Nova x Adrian content, knowing that she would take it away later! I also really want Adrian to find out that Phobia killed his mom in the next book, because by now this is what MUST have happened!
IN CONCLUSION: Superheroes are so cool, please read Archenemies!!
Have you read the Renegaedes books? Who is your favorite character? Who is your favorite hero or villain in media? What are your fave superhero books/shows? ❤