Thursday, April 5, 2012
The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell
May 11th 2010; EgmontUSA
Sixteen-year-old Damien Locke has a plan: major in messing with people at the local supervillain university and become a professional evil genius, just like his supervillain mom. But when he discovers the shameful secret she's been hiding all these years, that the one-night stand that spawned him was actually with a superhero, everything gets messed up. His father's too moral for his own good, so when he finds out Damien exists, he actually wants him to come live with him and his goody-goody superhero family. Damien gets shipped off to stay with them in their suburban hellhole, and he has only six weeks to prove he's not a hero in any way, or else he's stuck living with them for the rest of his life, or until he turns eighteen, whichever comes first.
To get out of this mess, Damien has to survive his dad's "flying lessons" that involve throwing him off the tallest building in the city--despite his nearly debilitating fear of heights--thwarting the eccentric teen scientist who insists she's his sidekick, and keeping his supervillain girlfriend from finding out the truth. But when Damien uncovers a dastardly plot to turn all the superheroes into mindless zombie slaves, a plan hatched by his own mom, he discovers he cares about his new family more than he thought. Now he has to choose: go back to his life of villainy and let his family become zombies, or stand up to his mom and become a real hero.(courtesy of Goodreads)
First thing first, you need to realize that the premise behind The Rise Of Renegade X is pretty silly - a world made up of super-heroes and super-villains. The super-heroes are out to thwart evil and act as good Samaritans. The super-villains are out for money, power, and to annoy the super-heroes. It reminds me of the farcical nature of The Impossibles. I also immediately thought of White Cat by Holly Black, but I never believed The Rise Of Renegade X 's world like I did the world of White Cat.
Don't let that you prevent you from picking up The Rise Of Renegade X . Ignore the urge to occasionally roll your eyes and focus on the real story. Damien is trying to discover who he is. He grew up idolizing super-villains and fully expected to be one himself. He is a snarky, arrogant, brash trouble-maker who has a comment and complaint about everything. Even though he's an irritating boy, I loved his voice. His sarcastic look on everything made me laugh throughout the book.
Damian is forced to question his future and his identity when he discovers that he is half super-hero and half super-villain. His actions will dictate which direction he eventually goes. At first the choice seems easy: super-villain all the way. He is still kinda in love with his super-villain ex-girlfriend Kat. He and his mom are pretty close. His new super-hero dad is goody-two-shoes boring. His new siblings are irritating. But as the book goes on, he has to question everything. His cool mom and super-villain friends make some choices that rub him the wrong way. His super-hero family may not be that bad after all. What life will he choose?
Another large aspect of this book is a love triangle between Damien, his ex-girlfriend Kat, and his sidekick Sarah. This is one of the best depictions of a teenage boy's confusion about girls that I've read in awhile. He and Kat broke up when he caught her cheating. But he can't let go. Does he just want to be friends or does he still love her? He doesn't really know. Then there's Sarah, his new sidekick. There's definitely physical attraction on both sides, and their personalities make them a great pair. Yet Damien still can't stop thinking about Kat. Who will he choose?
I thoroughly enjoyed The Rise Of Renegade X. Yes, it's silly, but it has a great underlying story of self-discovery that feels universal.