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Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Around the holidays I kept seeing the same book for sale everywhere I looked — “SUPERNOVA.” I was drawn to the beautifully drawn cover and the mysterious figure of a girl in a red cape. And then I noticed the author’s name — MARRISA MEYER. One of my recent favorites!

If you’re not familiar with Meyer’s work, she wrote a popular series called “The Lunar Chronicles” several years ago, and I read every single one of them and loved them. How can you go wrong with a Cinderella story featuring a cyborg? Yes, I said cyborg. Seriously, it is so good!

I digress, but it’s hard to mention Meyer without taking about “Cinder” and the other books in her “Lunar Chronicles” series. But the real story here is Meyer’s newest series, “Renegades.” The interesting book I kept seeing was “Supernova,” the third and final book in the series.

In “Renegades,” Meyer has created a world where there are prodigies — people who have been born with or later acquire special skills. For years, prodigies were feared, marginalized and even killed. Then along came Ace Anarchy — a powerful prodigy who took down the establishment and caused Gatlon City to become a place of chaos. His group became known as the Anarchists, and during his time in power, there was not a formal government, allowing for the rise of gangs, violence and many deaths. From this time of anarchy rose a powerful group of prodigies who began fighting to help the greater good. These superheroes, soon known as Renegades, were eventually able to beat the Anarchists, take over, and set up a form of government run by the original group of Renegades, known as the Council.

After a brief prologue, the story starts 10 years after the Renegade Council took over and follows the main characters, Nova, the niece of Ace and Adrian, the adopted son of two of the Renegades.

Fifteen-year-old Nova Artino (aka Nightmare) was taken in by her uncle Alec (aka Ace Anarchy) after witnessing the murder of her parents and sister at a young age. She grew up with the Anarchists and, after the battle that destroyed her uncle, she vowed to get revenge and destroy the Renegades. A plan is developed by the remaining Anarchist, and soon, Nova is working to infiltrate the Renegades.

Adrian Everhart (aka Sketch) has a lot going for him. His parents are both Council members, as a Renegade he and his friends — Oscar, Danna and Ruby — fight crime daily, and he has one of the coolest superpowers, being able to give life to practically anything he draws.

Both Adrian and Nova have secrets they want to keep, but soon their paths cross and they will have to decide what is more important and how they will choose to live.

The heart of the book is good versus evil, but as with real life, there are grey areas, and Meyer does a good job exploring that in her three-book series. All three books are interesting, and after finishing the final one, I am mostly happy with how Meyer decided to tie up the loose ends and how the conclusion came about. Because I read all three books, I don’t want to give away too much. I will just say this — most readers will be surprised by the dramatic twist at the end of the first book.

Jeana Gockley is the director for the Joplin Public Library.

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Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Being a teenage girl is rough. Being a teenage girl trapped on an island while a mysterious illness transforms you and your friends into strange, animal-human hybrids and destroys the wilderness around you? Well, that’s a hardship I’ll probably never be able to relate to. And that’s what the characters in WILDER GIRLS have to deal with.

Hetty, Byatt, and Reese are three friends bound together by the strange situation they’re in. They attend the Raxter School for Girls. Except classes aren’t really in session. A sickness has taken over the school. Almost all the adults have died, except for two of the younger faculty, Miss Welch and the Headmistress. These two keep the girls in order, helping them learn survival skills and manage their meager supplies.

The illness on the island causes the girls go through painful and unpredictable transformations. Hetty’s right eye fused shut. Reese has a silver-scaled claw for a hand and glowing hair. Byatt grew a second spine. Other girls aren’t so lucky; sometimes, the transformations are too much for their bodies to handle.

Hetty is recruited to the team of girls responsible for bringing supplies from the Navy drop-off back to the school. The job is dangerous, requiring them to face the transformed wilderness that surrounds the school. Just when Hetty thinks the danger can’t get more intense, she discovers a secret that could bring everything crumbling down. And this secret might put Byatt’s life in danger.

Wilder Girls is one of those books that could be categorized for adults if the content were just a little different. As is, however, the author deals with topics like love, betrayal, and family all with a Sci-Fi spin that I think both adult and teen readers can enjoy. I appreciated the depiction of everyday life in a disaster situation. Yes, the school is falling apart, but there are still love triangles and petty disagreements. Life goes on, even when life is mutating around you.

The story is told mainly from Hetty’s perspective, with a few chapters from Byatt’s point of view. While I don’t mind this tactic, it doesn’t work as well in Wilder Girls. The chapters told by Byatt feel too much like what they are: a way for the author to tell readers about the secrets Byatt unwittingly uncovers.

I have a real knack for choosing books that don’t have tidy endings. Wilder Girls is another one of those. Of course, the author could be leaving room for a sequel–and I honestly hope that’s the case. For any criticisms I might have, it’s a really well-written book. In a way, it reminded me of the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer, which is always a bonus.

On a completely different note, I should say this is my last book review for Joplin Public Library. I’ve accepted a position at another library. JPL has been part of my life since my childhood, when I would walk to the old library on Main Street and spend hours amongst the books. Joplin Public Library has a bright future, and I look forward to being a patron for years to come.