Heroes and Villains Clash in YA Author Marissa Meyer's 'Archenemies'

Posted by Goodreads on November 10, 2018
Readers all over the world know bestselling author and Goodreads Choice Award nominee Marissa Meyer from her hit YA fantasy series, The Lunar Chronicles. This year, Meyer continues to captivate readers with her superhero-inspired trilogy Renegades.

The second installment in this hot new series, Archenemies, takes readers into an alternate history where "prodigies" (e.g. people gifted with superpowers) have faced years of hardship and persecution. Rising from this turmoil are two warring factions: the Renegades, a small band of vigilante superheroes, and the Anarchists, a group of villains who once plunged the world into chaos. Standing on opposite sides of the divide are two young prodigies, Nova and Adrian, who manage to find common ground—much to their surprise.

Here Meyer discusses how the ideologies between these two factions come to a head in her highly anticipated sequel, and whether Nova (allied with the Anarchists) and Adrian (allied with the Renegades) can finally put aside their differences to do what they've been destined for: saving the world.

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Goodreads: So many readers are excited about Archenemies! Can you give us any hints about what fans can expect?

Marissa Meyer: And I’m so excited for it to be out! In Archenemies, we’ll see Nova and Adrian continue to be pulled in different directions—Nova between the Anarchists and the Renegades, and Adrian between the rules and his desire to prove himself more effective as a vigilante. There’s more romance (yay!), but also higher stakes as new weapons and alliances are revealed. Dun dun dun!

GR: Let’s talk about the Anarchists and the Renegades. What’s the conflict between these two factions, and how will that dynamic change in Archenemies?

MM: The Anarchists and the Renegades both believe they know what’s best for the world—and the world’s prodigies—but their ideals are at total odds with each other. The Renegades are convinced that, as the world’s saviors, it is their responsibility to be the world’s police, defenders, governors, judges, rule makers…all of it! Which has led to temporary peace and prosperity, but Nova is convinced that it’s not sustainable unless some of the power can be given back to the people.

The Anarchists, on the other hand, believe in true anarchy; they think everyone should have personal responsibility and that no government should be in control at all. After all, it was largely the governments that had oppressed and tormented prodigies for generations, and they now see that the Renegades are becoming oppressive in new ways. So a lot of that will be explored in Archenemies, particularly as the characters are forced to contemplate their own beliefs on personal responsibility and the corruption of power.

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GR: Let’s talk about your main characters, Nova and Adrian. Despite these two fighting on opposite sides, they’re very much drawn to each other. What do you hope readers will take away from their relationship?

MM: Other than plenty of swooning (my hope for all my romantic relationships!), I hope readers will recognize how much both Nova and Adrian grow and change over the course of the whole series, and the fact that people can change when they have an open mind and are able to build compassion and empathy…even, sometimes, for their enemies.

GR: What are the biggest challenges facing them right now in the sequel?

MM: They are both struggling with their loyalties and lifelong beliefs of who they are and what they believe in, which are constantly being tested. Adrian believes he’s making the right choices by choosing vigilantism, even though it constantly puts him at odds with the "code" he’s been raised with, while Nova is forced to acknowledge that there are good people within the Renegades who have honest intentions, even if she doesn’t always agree with their methods. There is a lot of internal conflict, which is constantly made worse by the demands and expectations put on them by their respective allies.

GR: Pop culture has an enduring fascination with superheroes and supervillains. Why do you think that is?

MM: I think it’s one of the most vicarious fantasies we can have! Not only the desire to have extraordinary powers (because who doesn’t want to fly or be able to levitate things with their mind? There are infinite practical uses!), but also because we have a tendency to look around at our world and wish for easy and effective solutions to the problems that face us. We hear news stories about war and terrorism and natural disasters and murder and hunger and so many awful things, and we think, "If I had superpowers, I could stop that." Or, "If there were superheroes in this world, then they could do something here."

It’s a wonderful dream. Of course, there are risks with those dreams, too. This danger of throwing our hands in the air and thinking, "Well, I’m not a superhero, so I guess there’s nothing I can do." I hope that more people are instead inspired by stories of great heroism and realize that, even without extraordinary powers, we can all find ways to make a difference.

GR: The line between superheroes and supervillains is often pretty black and white. What are your thoughts on this?

MM: Nothing is ever black and white! I think this is why I love writing from a villain’s perspective and finding ways to make them real and engaging to the reader. I may not always agree with the villain’s choices or methods, but I always want to know why they are making their choices, or what happened to them in the past to lead them down this path.

In the end, you may not persuade many readers to think of the villains as good guys, per se, but maybe they form a deeper understanding, maybe they relate more to their motives than they realized. And it goes the same with the heroes, too—if they’re "all good all the time," I find that really boring. Real people make mistakes and have weaknesses, and make difficult decisions. Our characters should, too.

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GR: You mentioned that you always loved superheroes—X-Men and Sailor Moon being two of your top examples. What drew you to these particular superheroes?

MM: X-Men was my first entry point to superheroes, back when my brother and I were kids and I would sneak reads of his comic books. Again with the vicarious fantasy—I just wanted to have superpowers so bad! To control the weather, to have adamantium claws—it was all so cool! So that fueled tons of daydreams from a young age.

But I think even as a kid, I always had the sense that X-Men wasn’t for me. At the time, it felt like a "boy" story, as did so many of the other popular comics, so I never delved much further into the genre. But then with my introduction to Sailor Moon—both the manga and the anime—I realized that superhero stories could be for girls too, and I loved seeing a tale that included both superpowers and saving the world, and also boy problems and friendship drama and issues with school and parents. I was immediately hooked.

GR: You also mentioned that you wrote a lot of Sailor Moon fan fiction (a fun fact that we adore). How has your love for that superhero fandom influenced you both personally and creatively?

MM: It’s impossible to know where I would be if I hadn’t discovered the Sailor Moon fandom! It really shaped me in so many ways. Not only because writing fan fiction gave me this amazing outlet where I could develop my craft and voice, but also because the support of the fandom was just incredible.

For years, I had readers offering encouragement and rooting me on, whether it was to finish one of my (epically long!) fan fics or when I voiced my dream of someday writing novels. To this day I will have readers come to my book signings and tell me that they’ve been reading my work for 20 years, and they feel like they got to watch me grow into this writing career, and it forms this immediate kinship between us. It’s so special, and I’m incredibly grateful to have had that community during my teen years.

GR: If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

MM: I get asked this a lot (as you might imagine), and I feel like my answer is constantly changing! Today I’m feeling a little overwhelmed with lots of things on my to-do list, so I think I would choose the ability to clone myself for a little while!

GR: Which YA books would you highly recommend to our readers?

MM: Oh my gosh, where does one even begin? I just finished the spectacular Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor and loved it, as I’ve loved all of her work. Other books that I've absolutely adored this year include the graphic novel Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu; My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton; and Maurene Goo's I Believe in a Thing Called Love.

GR: What books are currently on your Want to Read shelf?

MM: Hahahaha, how many shall I list? The ones currently sitting on my nightstand are Eon by Alison Goodman, Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell, and Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig.

Marissa Meyer's Archenemies is now available. Don't forget to add it to your Want to Read shelf! Be sure to also read more of our exclusive author interviews, and get more great book recommendations.

Comments Showing 1-16 of 16 (16 new)

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message 1: by Jenny (new)

Jenny How has it already been 20 years?! I still remember waiting for the next update on AI.

message 2: by Benjamin (new)

Benjamin Gorman If folks like YA Superhero stories, also check out LeeAnn McLennan's The Supernormal Legacy. It tells the story of a grrat character who is trying to give up her super-powered family and just be normal, but the world needs her. The third will come out this spring, so this is the perfect time to jump into the series!

message 3: by kathy (new)

kathy Thank you for the interview! Enjoy getting to know authors a little bit better. I cannot wait to start this book trilogy! I loved the lunar Chronicles immensely.

message 4: by Nona (new)

Nona Herrington I guess I have another series to read my girls and I imagine it will be just as hard to get from the library. The lunar chronicles is never able to be renewed. Unfortunately my oldest took cinder and scarlet home with her. I am switching between cinder and winter and that is just not helpful because they are so far apart. But my girls love them just as much as I do.

message 5: by b (new)

b Almost done with Anarchists and it’s absolutely incredible! When is the next book coming because I can’t wait!!! Loved the interview, love The Lunar Chronicles, Heartless and Renegades, and I know I’m going to love whatever comes next!!!

BlueSkyReader_o7 I can’t wait to read this!! I looks amazing!! I loved Renegades so much, I know I’ll love this too! Ahh!!! ❤️

message 7: by Ember (new)

Ember Solstice Anyone know if this the final book?

message 8: by Kasha (new)

Kasha Yes 3

message 9: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Jones Thanks, I will check out other books by Marissa.
Elizabeth Jones

message 10: by Hope (new)

Hope Mckenney AGHHHH! This book was so incredible!!!! Thank you tank you thank you!!!! #TEAMMAX (DONT YOU DARE DO IT)

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Ember wrote: "Anyone know if this the final book?"

There's going to be another one, it's a trilogy.

message 12: by Evening.Light (new)

Evening.Light Forever I can’t wait a whole year for the 3rd book to come out!

message 13: by Lizz (new)

Lizz Neri I can't wait to have the chance of read this 2nd book, and also i hope i could read The Lunar Chronicles as soon as posible...

message 14: by EJ (new)

EJ I preordered Archenemies and read it all as soon as I got it. It was amazing and a great sequel to Renegades, which is my favorite book!

message 15: by Trinity (new)

Trinity Teeters Trinity Teeters(special needs teen): Marrissa your superpower is writing, a gift God gave you and whatever your spiritual gift is+your compassion. Focus more on who God created you to be...He gave you this gift for a reason. I don't know what that could be but I hope, by leaning on Him and His understanding, You will be able to gain wisdom and understanding on that! I will pray for you dear sister! Take heart, for Jesus has overcome this world.

message 16: by Trinity (new)

Trinity Teeters BTW Marissa, would you be interested in going to prom with me? I am an aspiring young author, who enjoys writing things such as poetry for the love of God!!! As of right now, I'm working on my senior project, which is a book of poems. I either need someone to help me publish it or some resource to help me publish it myself.

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