As I predicted would (but hoped wouldn’t) happen, Meyer wrote another book that’s just too slow to start. I understand that series need to have a certain amount of summary to start subsequent books off, but the summary in Arch Enemies felt as if it took up half of the plot. The first novel was a good deal of summary as well. Any scene Meyer didn’t want to create herself she could just summarize. But for large books like the Renegades series, that’s just unacceptable.
I’m counting it as part of Meyer’s style that she writes to get to the end. She forgoes a more well-rounded writing style in favor of churning out books, and I just don’t agree with that. Originally intended to be a two-book series, Meyer is now coming out with a third Renegades novel. This isn’t an extension of the story, however, but a delaying of it. My biggest beef with Arch Enemies is that the meat of the book, which occurs only in the last half of it, could have been tacked onto either Renegades or the upcoming third book. But it wasn’t, making Arch Enemies a vehicle between the first and last of the trilogy rather than a solid (or needed) addition to the series.
Adding to this, I noticed that there wasn’t much character development either. Maybe a little between Nova and Adrian, but for the most part characters continue playing their usual roles and acting the same way they’ve always acted. It seems like such a waste of space that absolutely none of them get arcs of their own. Especially because, and I’ve mentioned this, Meyer’s Renegades books are so. damn. thick. Some of Meyer’s characters even become so entrenched in their one trait that they become more cardboard. When a flimsy character from the first novel winds up dead, Meyer shoehorns a new, similar character into fulfilling that old character’s role in a turn of events I found thoroughly unbelievable. And she is far from the only character who acts unnaturally.
With the character work lacking, Arch Enemies must rely on its plot to see it through to the trilogy’s finale. Fortunately, if you can make it, the plot in the last half of the novel was even more entertaining than the entire plot of Renegades. It saved the book for me, and just in time. I was about ready to put it down before the halfway point, just as I had almost done with the first book.
You might remember the mention of “Agent N” at the end of Renegades. This tool of chemical warfare becomes the A-plot for Arch Enemies, and while some reviewers found the substance boring, I really think it raises the stakes. As we know, Renegades are the goodie-two-shoes of the prodigy-sphere, but now they have a radical weapon in their hands and are too full of hubris to use it correctly. And with Nova doing increasingly risky missions for the Anarchists, the last few pages are nail-biters.
Review and Recommendation
I give Arch Enemies by Marissa Meyer 3.5 out of 5 stars. It’s the lengthy summaries and hasty writing that bring down the average. I’m sure I’ll pick up the third book both to finish up the series and to watch Nova’s double life hit the fan. If you’re less picky about series and you enjoyed the first novel, by all means.
Enjoy my review? Want to talk about it? Leave a comment below! And check out my review of Meyer’s first book in the series, Renegades!