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We were all villains in the beginning.
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Renegades is a trilogy of superhero novels by Marissa Meyer, composed of Renegades, Archenemies and upcoming Supernova.

Once, prodigies were feared and despised. Children born with unusual powers were shunned at best, and killed at worst... Until Ace Anarchy came. The most powerful prodigy of all time, he overthrew the government and plunged Gatlon City into chaos of a superpowered gang war. But as people cowered in their homes, fearful and powerless, hope arrived in form of the Renegades - the first superheroes.

Now, ten years later, Ace Anarchy lays dead, and the Renegades rule over the city, struggling to rebuild society and government. There are parades in their honour, public trials to join them, and tourists travelling to the city just to see them. But not everyone is a fan. Far beneath Gatlon, Ace's remaining Anarchists, among them his niece Nova, strive to keep his vision of the world alive. And with the upcoming trials, Nova - known to the world as the elusive villain Nightmare - might just get her wish... and, just perhaps, regret it.

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Tropes present in Renegades:

  • Action Dad: Adrian's dads, being the superheroes Captain Chromium and Dread Warden, obviously qualify.
  • Action Girl: Most female prodigies: Nova, Tsunami, Ingrid, Thunderbird...
  • Adult Fear: In spades.
    • The book opens with a family, including a toddler, getting murdered as their oldest daughter watches helplessly from the cupboard.
    • Adrian's team has their first confrontation with the Detonator inside a public library while a group of middle-schoolers is on a trip there.
    • In general, Adrian's entire Renegade career is rife with this for his dads, as not only does he go out to patrol the city for criminals, he's also the prime target for anyone out to hurt Captain Chromium and Dread Warden. This is part of the reason why he doesn't tell them about his Sentinel alter-ego.
  • After the End: The story takes place after a Class 1 apocalypse known as the Days of Anarchy that collapsed pretty much every pre-existing country. The Renegade Council is apparently the closest thing to a legitimate government on the entire planet and has struggled to reestablish infrastructure for years on end, which has some people worried that they may be becoming tyrants in their own right.
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  • Alas, Poor Villain: Hawthorne. For all she was a thief and a drug peddler, she's absolutely terrified when Frostbite and her team torture her to death.
  • Alliterative Name: Alec Artino and his alias Ace Anarchy both count. Also Honey Harper.
  • Almost Kiss: Happens several times to Nova and Adrian before they finally hook up, mostly because both of them are really awkward when it comes to relationships.
    • Oscar and Ruby come within moments of kissing near the end of Archenemies, but Adrian cuts them off because there's more important things that need attention. Namely, capturing Ace Anarchy.
  • Amplifier Artifact: Ace Anarchy's helmet could amplify his power, which is how he became the world's strongest prodigy.
  • And I Must Scream: As of the end of Archenemies, Danna is stuck in her butterfly form, unable to reform into a human or even communicate with her teammates, thanks to a member of her swarm being held hostage by Nova. It still doesn't stop her from aiding the team.
  • Artful Dodger: Magpie is a young girl living in the streets and stealing from people, at least until Adrian catches her trying to rob Nova and takes her to the Renegades headquarters, hoping to reform her into a productive member of society (which she's not particularly keen on, even if it gives her food to eat and a roof over her head).
  • Art Initiates Life: Adrian/Sketch has the ability to bring his drawings off the page as functioning objects, and he can draw nearly anything, so long as he can imagine how it will work, though they will keep the size at which they're drawn.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: And how! To name a few there’s Adrian Everhart, Simon Westwood, Genissa Clark, and Tamaya Rae.
  • Ax-Crazy: Ingrid, AKA The Detonator, is obsessed with personally hurting Captain Chromium, to the point where she completely derails everyone's plans. The moment the rest of the group realizes how far gone she is, they boot her out.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: At sixteen, Nova is the youngest of Anarchists, having been brought into the group by her uncle as a child.
  • Badass Gay: Hugh Everhart and Simon Westwood, known better as Captain Chromium and Dread Warden, are one of the Renegades' original members who ended the Age of Anarchy, and a couple.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Several anarchists have outright villainous powers, such as Phobia's ability to manifests fears, Ingrid's explosive-creation or Leroy's poisonous touch.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Oscar and Ruby are at each other's throats constantly, which both Adrian and Nova chalk up to the obvious attraction between them. By the time of Archenemies several months later, their arguing has gotten even worse, while the romantic tension has become even more obvious, to the point that everyone else on the team is desperate to tell them to just Get a Room!.
  • Bloody Murder: Ruby can turn her blood into various weapons, which she uses to fight.
  • Body to Jewel: Ruby's blood crystallizes outside of her body.
  • Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: Played with. On one hand, Ace Anarchy and his gang plunged the country - and, the implication is, the world - into chaos as he dismantled government and gave all prodigies free reign, leading to the society collapsing. On the other hand, Nova claims that this was never his intention, and he simply wanted to free the prodigies from oppression.
  • Boring, but Practical: The reason Adrian picks Insomnia for his team in the first place - while being The Sleepless in neither flashy nor particularly useful in combat, it's invaluable during stakeouts and investigations.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Ingrid dies at the end of the first book.
  • Captain Superhero: The Council is led by Captain Chromium.
  • Combo Platter Powers:
    • Sentinel, thanks to Adrian taking a "whatever feels cool" approach. He can jump two stories, manipulate fire, shoot lasers from his hand and has a power armour and, as of the end of Archenemies, immunity to all posions, diseases and Power Parasite abilites.
    • Max, thanks to his power parasite abilities, has, among others, telekinesis, metal manipulation, matter fusing, and "some" invisibility.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Uncle's, technically - Nova's been raised an Anarchist because her uncle was the Ace Anarchy.
  • Dark Action Girl: A number of villains are women, including Ingrid, Nova and Hawthorne, and none of them shy away from a fight.
  • Death of a Child: Nova's infant sister is killed in the prologue.
  • Decapitation Presentation: After Captain Chromium beheaded Ace Anarchy, he carried his helmet speared on a pike outside to show that the Battle of Gatlon was over. Except not really - the damaged helment is a fake, the real one is held by the Renegades' R&D department, and Ace threw himself into the fire before Chromium could kill him.
  • De-Power: In Archenemies, the Renegades premiere Agent N, a chemical that can "neutralize" prodigies, taking away their powers. Nova considers this horrifying, as in her opinion it pushes Gatlon one step closer to becoming a totalitarian state, but Ace and others are overjoyed, and want to have it.
  • Differently Powered Individual: Prodigies is the catch-all term here.
  • Disney Villain Death: In contrast to the official version of the story, Ace Anarchy threw himself off the cathedral and into the fire before Captain Chromium could kill him.
  • Doting Parent: Hugh and Simon are endlessly supportive of both Adrian and Max, and they have no trouble with Adrian bringing Nova to their house, even encouraging him to make a move on her.
  • Double Agent: The premise of the story: Nova - the villain Nightmare - joins the Renegades as the superhero Insomnia in order to spy on them for the Anarchists.
  • Dramatic Irony: Whenever Adrian's dads tell Nova they find her trustworthy and inspiring for younger Renegades, or whenever Adrian talks about hunting down Nightmare, the reader and Nova will both cringe internally.
  • Drama Queen: Honey is prone to theatrically overreacting to everything, going into histrionics when her "babies" (AKA the insects she commands) are threatened. This being said, when push comes to shove she's rather reliable.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Both Nova and the agent registering her for the trials think Insomnia is a lame nickname, but Leroy suggested it to Nova, and by the time of the trials, it's already grown on her.
  • Extranormal Prison: Gatlon City puts its prodigy criminals in Cragmoor Penitentiary, a facility specializing in holding people with unusual means of breaking out.
  • Extra-ore-dinary: Several varieties.
    • Captain Chromium can summon and shape chromium, most famously using it to create weapons.
    • Nova's father could summon wisps of ethereal energy and transform them into a strange, magical metal.
    • One of Max's parents had general metal-manipulation powers.
  • Fall Guy: When Frostbite's team kills Hawthorne, they use the fact that Sentinel tried to intervene to frame him for it.
  • Faking the Dead:
    • Nova's and Ingrid's plan at the end of the first book is to fake Nightmare's and the Detonator's deaths in order to throw the Renegades off their trail. Except Ingrid intended to actually kill Nova, and Nova ended up really shooting her. This being said, the plan succeeded as far as throwing people off Nightmare's trail.
    • After Sentinel is seen falling into the river, Adrian decides to abandon the persona, at least for a while, to convince everyone the vigilante has actually died.
  • Fate Worse than Death: At the end of Renegades, Danna is stuck in her butterfly swarm form, unable to transform back and warn her teammates about Nova.
  • Foreshadowing: To create a life for "Nova Mc Lain" it's said that she lives with her uncle as opposed to some made up parents. She often uses this uncle as an excuse for getting home early, and towards the end of Renegades, Adrian suspects this uncle is sick. The end of the novel reveals Ace Anarchy is alive and is indeed in poor health.
  • Fights Like a Normal: Nova, particularly when posing as Insomnia, as being The Sleepless is supposed to be her only power.
  • Flight: Adrian's mother, Lady Indomitable, could fly.
  • Follow the White Rabbit: When Adrian notices one of Danna's butterflies (and she's been incommunicado for the past several hours), he can only follow her, as she cannot speak in this form, straight into Ace Anarchy's lair, although he does have the foresight to call on Ruby and Oscar upon realizing there's danger ahead.
  • Forced Sleep: Nova's main power lets her knock out anyone she can touch skin-to-skin in an instant, though she cannot use it as Insomnia, thanks to this being Nightmare's signature power.
  • Friend to All Children: Adrian. When he and Nova are searching for Nightmare at a theme park, they're sidetracked by a birthday party for a kid who's a superhero fan, and Adrian spends a long while just entertaining the kids, ignoring his mission.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Nova has an uncanny talent for turning common household items and trash into advanced gadgets, which she uses to augment her combat abilities.
  • Good Feels Good: Nova takes to superheroing surprisingly well, which worries both her and Ingrid.
  • Guile Hero: As Nova's power is extremely short-ranged (and as a Renegade, she cannot use it at all, as it would connect her to Nightmare), she relies on her gadgets, hand-to-hand combat and wit to win.
  • Happily Adopted: Adrian was adopted by Hugh and Simon after his mother died, and clearly loves both of them.
  • Harmful to Minors: As a six-year-old, Nova watches helplessly as her family is murdered, then holds the killer at gunpoint until her uncle comes in and kills him right next to her.
  • Harmless Freezing: After Frostbite freezes half her body, Ingrid doesn't seem to be injured or otherwise harmed in any way - although somewhat justified, as Sentinel unfroze her quite quickly.
  • Has Two Mommies: Gender-inverted for Adrian, thanks to having been adopted by Captain Chromium and Dread Warden.
  • Hate Sink: Frostbite and her group are generally the worst Smug Supers of the entire Renegades, with Frostbite herself being willing to torture suspected villains so that they'd lash out and give her the excuse to arrest them. Even their fellow Renegades despise them - early on, Nova's claim to fame among them is that she beat up Gargoyle, Frostbite's number two, much to everyone's joy.
  • Help Mistaken for Attack:
    • When Adrian sees Nightmare leaning over Max's unconscious, heavily wounded body, he assumes she was trying to kill him, when in fact she saved his life.
    • Earlier, when Oscar and Ruby fight Phobia and Adrian transforms into the Sentinel to help them, the instant Phobia escapes they prepare to fight him. He ends up having to reveal who he is to them.
  • Hihi'irokane: Though never referred to as such, the metal that Nova's father could create is pretty close to it - reddish, extremely durable, and capable of channelling prodigious power.
  • Holding Out for a Hero: This is Nova's main problem with the Renegades: people are less willing to take matters into their own hands because everone assumes that the Renegades will take care of all the problems. As a result, there is no police force (because who would want to be a cop with prodigies patrolling the streets?), Gatlon's economy is in shambles (because their only export is superheroes), and the city has turned into an autocracy, because no-one cares about representation when Renegades protect everyone.
  • An Ice Person: Frostbite can create and manipulate ice.
  • Ideal Illness Immunity: The Amulet of Vitality protects the wearer from all illnesses, poisons, and even prodigious abilities that directly afftect the body, like Max's power-draining. After Adrian tatoos himself with its pattern, he gains the same.
  • I Know What You Fear: Phobia can sense what people around him are most afraid of, and can transform himself into embodiment of various fears.
  • In a Single Bound: Adrian can jump over two stories high thanks to the springs he's tattooed on the soles of his feet. This being said, this is one of Sentinel's signature abilities, so he doesn't use it in his Sketch persona.
  • Invisibility: Dread Warden can turn completely invisible, including whatever he has on him.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Frostbite and her team of trigger-happy Smug Supers end up De Powered by the same Agent N they were so eager to use on everyone, making them the nothings they mocked Nova for being.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: When he realizes he's about to blow Nova's cover wide open, Puppeteer changes her name in his story to Noreen. The swap is so obvious, no-one believes him, but it does hide her real name.
  • Mad Bomber: Ingrid can create bombs with her mind, and does she ever love to use them.
  • Making a Splash: Tsunami can conjure and control water.
  • Make It Look Like a Struggle: During the Library fight, Nova only half-handcuffs Ingrid so that the Detonator can escape without blowing her cover.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Ace Anarchy checks most of the boxes of a manipulative parent (or uncle, as case may be), demanding utter obedience, quashing any independent thoughts and guilt-tripping his charge into following his vision.
  • Manly Tears: Simon tears up when the Amulet of Vitality lets him finally hug Max.
  • Mass Hypnosis: Winston/Puppeteer can mind control entire groups of people. Apparently, he can only do that with children, though Nova can't tell if it's an actual limitation or just a preference.
  • Meaningful Name: Nova’s name could refer to supernova, alluding to her interest in stargazing. Nova can also mean “new”- she’s not only the youngest Anarchist, but the newest renegade and member of Adrian’s team.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: Throughout Archenemies, Nova is trying to procure Ace Anarchy's helmet so that he might have his powers restored. She manages to steal it at the end of the book, but at the same time, Adrian and his team arrest him, rendering her success meaningless.
  • Mind over Matter: Both Ace Anarchy and Max have telekinesis, the latter thanks to absorbing Ace's power. Ace was apparently extremely powerful, as stories tell of him uprooting entire buildings at the start of his revolution.
    • Archenemies clarifies that the sheer strength of Ace's powers are actually partially due to the power-amplifying helmet made for him by Nova's father, but even without it, he's still capable of precisely manipulating dozens of objects and throwing Adrian-in-Sentinel-armor around like a ragdoll.
  • Missing Mom: Adrian's mother was one of the original Renegades, but she was murdered under mysterious circumstances before the Battle of Gatlon.
  • More Than Mind Control: Callum/Wonder can make people think about the beauty of the world around them, though the practical applications of this are rather limited.
  • Mutual Kill: Ingrid and Nova intend to stage one to throw the Renegades off their trail.
  • Never Found the Body:
    • One of the reasons Adrian is dubious of Nightmare's death at the end of the first book is that her body was never found - because she's actually his teammate Nova, still alive and kicking.
    • Ace Anarchy's body was never recovered in the chaos after the Battle of Gatlon. Predictably, he's still alive.
  • Nice Guy: So long as it's not about Nightmare, Adrian's the purest cinnamon roll in the world. He's endlessly nice and supportive, helps whoever he can (including villains), and at one point derails an operation so that he can cheer up a group of kids at a birthday party.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Captain Chromium is practically invincible, although the opening of the book implies that a poisonous dart through the eye might've done the trick if Nova hit him. As it is, nothing leaves a scratch on him - not even Max's power absorption abilities.
  • Not Quite Dead: The end of Renegades reveals that Ace Anarchy survived the Battle of Gatlon.
  • Omniglot: During the trials, one of the applicants can speak every language in the world. While he doesn't get into a superhero team, he does get hired by the Council.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • Phobia's real name is unknown; at one point, Nova wonders if his parents didn't just name him Phobia after seeing his powers.
    • Nightmare's real name is unknown to the world at large, which is what lets Nova infiltrate the Renegades.
  • One to Million to One: Danna/Monarch can transform into a swarm of monarch butterflies, making her an excellent scout and spy.
  • Papa Wolf: Captain Chromium is ready to pull a burning library apart with his bare hands to find Adrian.
  • Personality Powers: Some cases, particularly among the Anarchists.
    • The Detonator can create explosives with her mind, and has the explosive personality to match.
    • The Puppeteer can Mind Control children, and has a mind of a psychotic Manchild.
    • Phobia dresses in all black and keeps apart from others.
  • Pest Controller: Honey/Queen Bee can manipulate bees, hornets and wasps.
  • The Peter Principle: The Council is composed of the original five Renegades, as their victory over Gatlon's various gangs made them the rulers of the city. Though they're trying their best, it's pretty obvious, at least to people willing to look at them critically, that a group of friends who formed a superhero team in their basement is not very well suited to administering a state - the economy is still in shambles, many civil projects are started and abandoned before they're done, and a lot of people still have to scavenge for a living.
  • Photographic Memory: The prodigy Librarian can perfectly remember anything he's ever read.
  • Plant Person: The villainess Hawthorne has six plant-like tentacles covered in thorns on her back.
  • Playing with Fire: This is apparently one of the most coveted and most common prodigious ability, though in the story, only Sentinel has it.
  • Point of No Return: Nova never outright says it, but she clearly realizes she's crossed it after finding one of Danna's butterflies in Ace's lair and trapping it in a jar. Her secret is out if she ever allows Danna to reform, and the ruse can only stay up for so long.
  • Poisonous Person: Leroy/Cyanide can secrete acidic poisons through his skin, and is a skilled chemist besides, making money on selling more-or-less legal poisons.
  • Power of Creation:
    • Nova's father could apparently turn energy into matter, using it to create various objects, among them Nova's bracelet and Ace's helmet.
    • Captain Chromium can create various chromium objects, such as weapons or boxes, out of nothing.
  • Power Incontinence:
    • Max can never turn off his power stealing ability, which is why he's living in a containment chamber.
    • Apparently, this is a problem for many young children born with prodigious powers before they learn to control it - when he was little, Adrian infested his childhood home with homicidal squiggles during his dinosaur phase, and Nova recalls that her mother had problems breastfeeding her because Nova's touch would put her to sleep.
  • Power Parasite: Max drains other prodigies' powers and gains them, which is why he's in containment at all times. It also has the side-effect of rendering his victims unconscious, making it impossible for them to leave his area of effect.
  • Protective Charm: While working in the archives, Nova discovers Amulet of Vitality, which can protect from poisons and acids. As she and Adrian later discover, it also protects against Max's power and Agent N. Adrian ends up tattooing the pattern on his skin to let him visit Max.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After Nova's and Ace's family was killed by a hitman from the Roaches gang, Ace went out and murdered all of them in a single night.
  • Secret Keeper: Near the end of Anarchists, Ruby and Oscar find out that Adrian is Sentinel, and agree to keep it a secret.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: At the Battle of Gatlon, Ace Anarchy threw himself off the roof rather than be killed by Captain Chromium. However, the end of the first book reveals he actually survived the fall.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Donna cannot reform back into her human form unless each and every single one of her butterflies is either together with others or dead. At the end of Archenemies, the Anarchists use this to stop her from alerting the team to their plans.
  • Shock and Awe:
    • Thunderbird can summon, as her name implies, thunder and lightning.
    • Nova's Weapon of Choice is a taser.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Captain Chromium and Dread Warden are the world's "it" couple, and just watching them makes Nova's teeth rot.
  • The Sleepless: Nova hasn't slept since she was six years old, and when Max's power renders her unconscious, she finds it disconcerting. As it turns out, she can still sleep, if the conditions are right, although this might be because of Max draining some of her power.
  • Smoke Out: Oscar/Smokescreen can summon and control clouds of smoke and vapor, which he mostly uses to hide his movements and obstruct the vision of his enemies.
  • Spontaneous Weapon Creation:
    • Captain Chromium can create weapons made from, fittingly, chromium.
    • During the Age of Anarchy, Nova's father was forced to create guns with his powers for the Roaches gang.
  • The Spook: Phobia. Neither the Anarchists nor the Renegades know anything about him - not his name, not where he came from, not even precisely what he looks like, as he prefers to hide in the shadows.
  • Staged Shooting: The climax of Renegades is intended to be this, as Ingrid and Nova intend to fake a Mutual Kill in order to throw the Renegades off their trail. Except Ingrid didn't intend to fake it.
  • Superpower Lottery: The superpowers vary greatly in both scale and usefulness - for every Captain Chromium with Nigh-Invulnerability, there's someone like the girl at the trials who can inflate her head like a balloon to float a little.
  • Super Strength: Several Renegades have this as their secondary power, including Captain Chromium and Gargoyle.
  • Super Team: The Renegades originally started as a group of six prodigy friends hanging out in Dread Warden's basement. By the time of the story, however, their numbers have grown so much they're more like a superhero syndicate, composed of a number of smaller Super Teams.
  • That One Case: For Adrian, it's his mother's death. She was killed by falling from a great height, which he considers outright improbable, given her power was flight.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Nova has the unfinished bracelet that her father was making for her when he died. She always keeps it on her, and the thought of losing it makes her panic.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Some prodigies gain their abilities this way, while others are born with it.
    • Ruby's power manifested after she swallowed a bunch of jewels to keep them away from looters, and was almost killed for it.
    • Oscar's smoke manipulation triggered after he died from inhaling smoke in a house fire.
    • Nova is an interesting case in that she could induce Forced Sleep since she was a child, but only became The Sleepless in response to her family's death.
  • Triple Shifter: Nova, thanks to being The Sleepless. She works as Insomnia during the day, hangs out with the Anarchists in the evenings, and works on her own, personal projects during the night.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: Some prodigies are capable of producing supernatural objects, such as magical weapons, Amplifier Artifacts or other, weirder items, either by crafting them by hand or shaping them with their power.
    • There was once a medieval blacksmith who forged items with supernatural properties, such as the Amulet of Vitality.
    • Nova's father and Captain Chromium could/can both create powerful items out of thin air, with the former crafting amplifiers (and other, less explained, things), while the latter's creations are indestructible to all but him.
  • Urban Hellscape: Before Renegades defeated Ace, Gatlon was filled up to brim with gangs rubbing against each other, violently competing for territory, and all who lived there were either gang members or civillians trying to keep their heads low. Whenever someone brings up the city's current problems, someone else will point at that time to say it could be worse.
  • Villain Protagonist: Nova's the protagonist, and a member of the Anarchists, a group that wants to kill the Council and plunge Gatlon back into chaos (though things aren't exactly black-and-white). In fact, her first action in the story is an assassination attempt on Captain Chromium.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Phobia can shapeshift into various fears, such as swarms of insects, fire or darkness.
  • Winged Humanoid: Thunderbird has functioning wings.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • The killer from the prologue has no trouble murdering infant Evie, and would've done the same to six-year-old Nova if she didn't knock him out.
    • The Detonator has no problem setting a library full of schoolchildren on fire.
    • Ace Anarchy, it turns out, isn't much of a standout either, as during the Battle of Gatlon, he apparently did this best to murder then-infant Max.
    • Max's parents wanted to throw him off the rooftop once they realized what his power was.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Honey's backstory. As a child, she accidentally stepped on a hive of bees and crushed it, then passed out from the stings. When she woke up, she found out that she killed the hive queen, and the bees somehow decided that she's the new one.

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