02 September, 2010

Book Review: The Rise of Renegade X

Title: The Rise of Renegade X
Publisher: Egmont USA
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
Page Count: 340
Rating: 4 out of 5
Cover Rating: 4 out of 5. I'm torn between liking it and hating it. It's very . . . comic-ish, which I'm not sure what to make of, although I think it really fits the book. The font/lettering is great--I'm glad they didn't mess that up, as they sometimes do--and I like the boy on the cover. Something's just not right with it though. It half-repels me, half-attracts me and I'm just not sure I like it or if I don't. (What do you think of it?) However, despite all that, one sure thing is that this cover is a bit spoiler-y. It immediately revealed something to me that I wish hadn't been revealed . . . but it wasn't the worst spoiler ever.

Inside flap:

Damien Locke knows his destiny--attending the university for supervillains and becoming Golden City's next professional evil genius. But when Damien discovers he's the product of his supervillain mother's one-night stand with--of all people--a superhero, his best-laid plans are ruined. 
   Now forced to live with his superhero family, Damien must prove that he's truly evil. Only he wasn't counting on a villainous plot that threatens his new relatives' safety and will make Damien choose who he really wants to be.

My expectations: Usually whenever I see the word "evil genius" "villain" and "villainous plot" I'm there. Consequently, I had to take out this book even despite the slightly odd "superhero" and "supervillain" stuff, which is not what you typically see in YA. I thought that might be a nice change.

It certainly was . . . different.

About the book: This is not an Artemis Fowl-style story about dastardly genius and cunning wits with amazing technology and lots of scientific talk. 

This is a book about superheroes battling the supervillains in what seems to be an eternal fight between the two forces. Damien Locke (I love that name, BTW) is the son of a supervillain and a superhero, and of course that brings up issues; especially ones like "Is he a freaking supervillain or isn't he?!"

You see, it starts out on Damien Locke's 16th birthday. On their 16th, all superheroes and supervillains get either an "H" or a "V" on their thumb. But on his birthday, Damien gets an "X" instead. That means that he's a cross between a villian and a hero, and which symbol he gets is determined by his action--whether he falls to the dark side or decides to become a superhero. But one thing he can't control is what superpower he gets--they're all inherited traits from the family, and if you don't know who your dad is, then you don't have any idea what that power might be.

You're probably thinking something like "this book sounds so CHEESY!" with the superheroes and supervillains running around and rescuing and/or destroying things and generally acting like stereotypes. And you'd be right, it is rather cheesy in parts. Corny. Eye-rolling, particularly when it comes to the different sides and how they try to go to the extremes of evil and of good. Like, one of the goals (for villains) is mind control. Who hasn't heard of mind control before on the part of villains?

But most of the cheesy-ness comes from the superhero side of things, to be honest. It's not the supervillains that are the sappy and ridiculous sort. For example: "The Crimson Flash is here, and everything's okay; trust his word and not the nerd and have a neato day!" is the theme song on one of the superheroes' TV shows. The Crimson Flash also wears a cape, and I do NOT want to know what the rest of his tight suit is like appearance-wise. Because I know he's wearing one.

Mr. Rogers is better than that! But it's sort of sadistically funny, isn't it? "Have a neato day!" as the emblem of the superhero. The Crimson Flash. Which brings up the point that all of the supervillains/heroes have totally ridiculous names. Like "Mistress of Mayhem"--that's Damien's mom's name. "Midnight Marvel" is the name Damien chooses for himself. "Forensic Avenger" and "Gallant Gentleman" are other superhero names. And "Renegade X" is what Damien settles on in the end.

  • Plot: 

The plot was . . . well, sort of predictable, but I still found it interesting enough. (I don't read comic books, so maybe those of you who have would find this boring.) Damien was a good protagonist, and while it's certainly been done before I liked the whole choose-between-good-and-evil thing. There were a few twists I didn't quite see coming, and that kept my interest.

The supervillain/hero issue is rather stereotyped with the good and the bad and the fairly straight line between the two (except for the fact Damien is the "product" of one from each) but hey, it works. That's why it's copied so much.

  • Characters:

Damien is a good character. I love that boy! He's got spunk, sarcasm, humor, brains, and (this is where the spoiler-y cover comes in, since it's pretty obvious he's standing at the top of the building and looking down) he can fly. I found his treatment of the dilemma an interesting one--while I don't prefer evil in Real Life I found myself hoping he'd become a supervillain. Really, I did. I wanted him to get the V onto his finger and rule!

Kat is a supervillain. She's already got a V and all that jazz, and she's a shapeshifter. Yup, shapeshifter. Which can lead to some pretty, uh, uncomfortable situations--like when Damien finds her in his bedroom making out with someone else despite the fact she's supposed to be his girlfriend. But despite that, it isn't really a major part of her nature. I really couldn't decide what kind of supervillain she'd make because there really wasn't much in the way of describing just how far she'd go in that direction to get what she wants.

Sarah was odd. She did things that aren't quite right, said things that are a little strange, and acted weirdly. I enjoyed the fact she could be fairly strong, but other than that she irked me. I thought a few things could have been fleshed out a little more than they were.

Gordon (Damien's dad) is . . . good. Really good. Good in the "oh my gosh I can't believe that, since it's so goody-two-shoes!" Another demonstration on how ridiculous the superheroes can be. (Granted, so can the supervillains on occasion.) I didn't particularly like him, mainly because he didn't really like Damien despite the fact he was his son. Sheesh.

Damien's mom. I found her a mix of laser-eyes, attitude, irritatingly prejudiced ideas, and supervillain-ness. A good character.

  • Setting/Other Factors:

The superhero supervillain thing is not something you see in YA literature. (At least not something that isn't illustrated.) Frankly, I am happy that the author took this opportunity to write something different and out of the usual spectrum since with all the vampires and werewolves and . . . whatever, this change was a relief.

There is a lot of sarcastic humor in this book. Like the inward comments Damien makes about the fact his mom calls her fiance "honeybuns" {*gags*} and some other things he says about the fact he exists. Out of wedlock and all. Other things, too, that will either make you snicker or laugh or cringe or snort or roll your eyes.

Other: There are, uh, things people might have issues with. There are several references, some comments, a bad word here and there, indicative things, cheating on the person's boy/girlfriend, the aforementioned relationship between Damien's parents, and a lot of kissing. 

No, I don't mean that it was graphic or vividly described to point where I just had to slam the book shut because I was afraid of permanently scarring my mind, but more like they just kissed a LOT and CONTINUOUSLY. Like for minutes at a time. In fact, Damien actually has these kissing sessions with ***** (didn't want to spoil it for you) and they do it for much too long. They start timing their kissing, too, which I thought was a little strange . . .

Do I recommend this book? Yes. I would recommend this book because it presents a whole different setting  than a lot of YA does, and that change is great since a lot of YA is the same.

-----The Golden Eagle


Jen said...

I've never visited a blog where there are so many instructions on how to leave a comment... I LOVE IT!!! I should do something like this! People show know that advertisements are not welcome... I've never been a fan.

Okay so now that I've veered completely off topic, let me get back to it... I love your blog and this review was awesome!

I've never heard of this book, but with such a great start count I know that it will be added straight to my TBR pile!!

Caroline said...

Hmmm, an...interesting? sounding book:). Damien sounds like a great hero, which is a nice change, since a lot of MCs in those kind of books can be really...I dunno, lame? Annoying? Maybe it's just me:). (I'm not making fun of this book, of course--it just seems like there's a lot of weak heroes out there.)

Speaking out of Artemis Fowl (well, you did:P)--have you read the newest one, The Atlantis Complex, yet? I'm itching to get my hands on it!!!:D

The Golden Eagle said...

Jen: LOL. Glad you like it! I've never liked advertisements either, so I thought "Well, I'll just tell people not to put them up!" It's worked so far. :)

Caroline: Lame, annoying, stupid, irritating . . . the works. Damien IS better than most.

NO! But I want to really read that book! Gosh. I really wish the local library would get it--NOW.

Alison said...

I agree...this book was pretty silly but I really enjoyed it.
Also, if you liked Incarceron, have you read Finnikin of the Rock? I really enjoyed it.
Alison Can Read

Alison said...

New follower, btw

The Golden Eagle said...

Yup, I read Finnikin of the Rock. To be frank . . . I hated it. :P I really thought I'd like it, but Evanjalin and Finnikin and plot just got on my nerves so much I almost didn't finish it. But I do love Incarceron. :)

Thanks so much for following! It does mean a lot.