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What does it mean to be a hero? To the Renegades, it means protecting the safety of Gatlon City while also adhering to a code designed to keep them --- and others --- safe. To Adrian, adopted son of two of the leaders of the Renegades, being a hero means following this code --- when he can. However, it also means testing their boundaries through his double identity as The Sentinel. To Nova, being a hero means being an enemy. A member of the Anarchists, she nurtures resentment towards a ruling organization that failed her --- and one that she believes grows more dangerous by the day. As fear of unregistered prodigies --- individuals unaffiliated with the Renegades, yet possessing special abilities --- grows, efforts to restrict uncontained power progress and gain popularity, to Nova’s alarm. After months as an undercover member of the Renegades, gaining access to valuable information, Nova finds herself with a growing dilemma: her sentiment for those in the organization, including Adrian, clashes with her own beliefs about the power structure that they belong to. With events escalating towards conflict, Nova knows that her position as a Renegade faces a looming expiration date, one that will permanently fracture the relationships she has made --- and finds herself wanting to keep.

"With ARCHENEMIES, Marissa Meyer delivers another thrilling adventure that moves beyond black-and-white superhero stereotypes"

With ARCHENEMIES, Marissa Meyer delivers another thrilling adventure that moves beyond black-and-white superhero stereotypes. One of the series’ greatest strengths proves, again, to be the fun that Meyer’s stories provide. In a world of superheroes and super-objects, Meyer could have easily chosen to include conventional superpowers, but she makes a point of inventing new abilities, then pushing them to their limits, exploring all of the possibilities that they provide. Her creativity draws in the reader --- the characters that she creates are a form of world building in their own right, and their unique powers offer a thrilling experience. In particular, Adrian’s powers are developed wonderfully: all of the applications and potential he unlocks within himself will make readers wish they had even a shade of his ability!

Another feature of the story that distinguishes the book is the struggle with morality, as well as good and evil. Although Meyer establishes plenty of complex discussions regarding power, right and wrong, and fear, all of which have the potential to elevate the story, the discussions often lapse into the same arguments multiple times without refinement, never progressing any further beyond these foundational ideas.

As she did in the Lunar Chronicles, Meyer also creates characters with clearly defined personalities. Each individual springs off of the page with their own attitude, distinctive from the other characters in a way that makes them all compelling, particularly necessary in a book with a large cast. With their own quirks and abilities, Meyer avoids the stereotype of the formulaic hero, which guarantees the reader will find themselves invested in all of the individuals. Their voices also open the book up for younger teens, although older teens will find the story interesting as well. With this said, some readers may find Adrian’s innocence hard to believe. His inability to question many suspicious circumstances seems unrealistic, especially given his experience in an organization that deals with threats, and proves one of the story’s weakest points.

However, ARCHENEMIES excels in offering a satisfying story in terms of plot --- the book, at over 400 pages, offers a filling serving of Gatlon City and the heroes that defend it. There are plenty of facets to the plot to keep readers interested, but the romance at times seems to dominate the story to its detriment, and to the detriment of the action that readers will expect out of a superhero story.

The second story of a trilogy often proves the hardest book to write, but Meyer expertly avoids many of the traditional pitfalls, even though ARCHENEMIES does prove lacking at times in thematic value and compelling action. With a fast-paced ending that offers an excruciating cliffhanger, comic book lovers, Marvel and DC fans, Lunar Chronicles readers and science-fiction-loving teens alike will find themselves with a thoroughly enjoyable story that suggests plenty more to come in the third book --- from the Renegades and the Anarchists alike.

Reviewed by Rachel R., Teen Board Member on November 14, 2018

by Marissa Meyer