As with its predecessor, Secrets of PEACE, I'm once again in a unique position while reviewing this story because I had the opportunity to read it way back before it was itself. Taking that into consideration, I can hardly say that was "this story" anymore either. Elements that were added to Secrets opened up a plethora of new opportunities for T.A. Hernandez as she charged forward into Renegades, allowing her to take the story places it never went before.
Renegades doesn't pick up exactly where Secrets left off, but it immediately sucks the reader in, presenting both Zira and Jared with challenging situations right off the bat. That's what this series -- and this book in particular -- seems to revolve around: how these two characters we came to know in Book 1 react to and deal with threats. And not just physical threats. Threats to their emotional well-being. Their beliefs. Their way of life.
Those who have read the first book will know that the PEACE Project has its perks. Some of the structure it provides is good. It protects people. It makes sure everyone has adequate resources. Those points are what make the conflict so interesting. Characters like Jared who have spent their entire lives within the Project's walls -- or at least directly under its influence -- can see no wrong in the Project's actions. Even if its methods seem extreme at times, the end always justifies the means. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a traitor.
Likewise, as she continues working with Tripp and the other rebels she met in Secrets, Zira witnesses firsthand just how corrupt the Project has become. While the structure and services it provides may seem good on the outside, the implications are much more sinister.
Both characters spend the majority of the story dealing with the consequences of the choices they made in Book 1. It's a continual fight for survival as they each strive to make the other see reason but refuse to abandon their own beliefs. Meanwhile, their personal struggles are overshadowed by a looming conflict bigger than either of them ever anticipated.
With a satisfactory ending (at least by my standards -- I'm kind of a sucker for endings like this) but still open enough to continue the story, I can't wait to see what happens next. I don't know what's coming!
About T.A. Hernandez:
T.A. Hernandez grew up with her nose habitually stuck in a book and her mind constantly wandering to make-believe worlds full of magic and adventure. She began writing stories after reading J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings for the first time at age 10. Thankfully, her writing has improved significantly since then, though she will happily admit that she has much more to learn and is looking forward to a long and exciting journey in her Quest to Tell Better Stories.
She is the proud mother of two girls and a college student working towards her degree in social work. She also enjoys drawing, reading, watching movies, and making happy memories with her family and friends.