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Renegade X #1

The Rise of Renegade X

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Sixteen-year-old Damien Locke has a 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 go back to his life of villainy and let his family become zombies, or stand up to his mom and become a real hero.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published May 11, 2010

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About the author

Chelsea M. Campbell

24 books302 followers
Chelsea M. Campbell grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where it rains a lot. And then rains some more. She finished her first novel when she was twelve, sent it out, and promptly got rejected. Since then she's written many more novels, earned a degree in Latin and Ancient Greek, become an obsessive knitter and fiber artist, and started a collection of glass grapes. Besides writing, studying ancient languages, and collecting useless objects, Chelsea is a pop-culture fangirl at heart and can often be found rewatching episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Parks and Recreation, or dying a lot in Dark Souls.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 268 reviews
Profile Image for Megan.
468 reviews75 followers
October 16, 2011
(Re-posted from http://theturnedbrain.blogspot.com)

There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that I won’t forgive a book for if it gives me fantastic characters. Plot holes? Cliches? Incest? Like the annoying girl you tolerate because her brother is way hot, I’ll welcome all those flaws if the characters are bitching.

And boy are Chelsea M. Campbells characters bitching!

Which is not to say that the book is full of plot holes and clichés. Incest on the other hand… No, I kid. (Although, Damien does spend an unusual amount of time dwelling on this mother’s sex life…) There is little that is clichéd about Renegade X’s plot, which surprised me. Oftentimes in books like this, which is to say books that feature superheros (and villains!) of the author’s own creation, certain characters will mirror other, more well known comic superheros. Perry Moore’s excellent “Hero” for example is peppered full of awfully familiar superheros, including one from another planet whose only weakness is a certain kind of crystal…

There is none of this with Campbell’s superheros. It’s surprising how refreshingly original they are. Even when their abilities are not so unique, such as shape shifting or flying, Campbell avoids comparison with “real” superheros completely.

And there are no major plot holes, or at least none that immediately jump out me. Well, no, that’s not true. I did wonder why, if every villain is clearly identifiable by the V on their thumb, were they not all just thrown in prison? Or at the very least why were they allowed to have a school where torture and mayhem were on the curriculum? (Nothing in the text suggested that Villmore’s purpose was a secret to the general public). The world building, perhaps, is a little scarce, but Campbell outlines the “rules” of her universe clearly enough and then sticks to them.

But these faults are niggely and, as I said, the characters! Oh man, the characters make up for everything! She could name her heroes Superguy and Wonder Lady and have more plot holes than Twilight and I would still be here raving about this book.

Damien, in particular, is excellently written. There is much to be said in favour of characters who are always quick with the right comeback, who say the things that we would never dare to. This type of character is common in speculative fiction, think your Loche Lamoras and Kvothes, and Damien has this element in spades (his snarky sense of humour had me laughing out loud more than once, and I’m normally a very quite reader). But unlike the other dashing anti-heroes I’ve mentioned, Damien would also fit in very nicely in a mainstream YA novel. Something witty by John Green or David Levithan.

This is because, despite his super powers, Damien is a kid a kid with a set of problems that any coming of age novel would be happy to have. He’s meeting his Dad for the first time, he’s worried that his Mum has less time for him now she has a new boyfriend, he still has feelings for his ex and on top of it all he has to decide if he wants to devote the rest of his life to good or evil. Well, ok, maybe that last one is not so common…

The rest of the cast is just as well fleshed out as Damien, with all of them from main to minor, expertly toeing the line between realistic and comic book over the topness.

Fans of good old fashioned YA coming of age tales, and fans of comic books, and especially fans of both will find much to love here.
Profile Image for Lyndsey.
126 reviews3,188 followers
Want to read
October 10, 2010
This book was great. Very campy. Alot of superhero/supervillian jokes, but even non-comic book fans could relate. Damien Locke is hilarious and I would love to be best friends with Renegade X. Not to mention, read another book about him. Here are just a few great quotes from the book:

I've been kidnapped by a madman in tights and a cape.

I explained that I'd been homeschooled but that didn't help. She must have been picturing cavemenlike supervillians in capes grunting and showing me how to rub two sticks together to make the pretty fire stuff.

The last one really made me laugh and also reminded me of a Buffy quote: Fire bad, tree pretty.

The author seems like a really cool chick. She mentions rewatching old Buffy episodes in the back of the book and I find her writing style refreshing. There's not constant romance like alot of female authors but just enough to keep you involved. And lots of laughs. I look forward to more books from her.
Profile Image for Gergana.
227 reviews400 followers
December 16, 2015
WOW! This book! This book came super close to getting a 5 star rating from me, so close...

Unofficial rating:
First half: 5 out of 5 stars
Second half: 2.5 out of 5 stars

The Story
Imagine a world, where seeing a superhero flying through the sky, or being mugged by a super villain in a back alley isn't that unusual. But there is one place, Golden City, where the chances of this happening are even higher due to the high percentage of super-powered people. Damien, a witty and mischievous teenager, is about to become one of them.

The story begins with his 16-th birthday party, a day when every gifted child receives a new thumb print (V for a villain and H for a hero). Being the son of a notorious villain himself, Damian has no doubts that he would follow in his mother's footsteps. What he doesn't take under consideration, before inviting hundreds of people to his extravagant party, is the identity of his father. So when the times comes, instead of a V, something worse appears on his thumb - an X - which means he has superhero blood in him? How did this happen? (something to do with his mom, a superhero and a train's public toilet)

Naturally, it doesn't take long for Damien to discover the identity of his father ... and, unfortunately, he's no other than the famous tv celebrity - Crimson Flash. Not only is he the most annoying too-perfect-to-be-true goody goody, but his ability is FLYING and if there is one thing Damien is afraid of, it's heights!

The Rise of Renegade X is funny, imaginative and highly entertaining! If I had to describe the whole book in a couple of sentences I would say: imagine Pixar's The Incredibles but with the kids being the main focus of the story. And instead of a superhero, we follow Damien, a super-villain wanna be.

My opinion:
-First half - phenomenally good - action, humor, original, fast-paced.
-Second half - still good, but rather disappointing.

What did I like?
- The concept - it's original, refreshing and kind of ridiculous in a good way.
- The protagonist - Damien is sarcastic, snarky and hilarious! He's obviously the son of a super-villain, so he tries to be ruthless and vindictive, but never cruel.
- The interaction between the characters is hilarious! Any dialogue with Damien in it is priceless!
- Unpredictable plot (at least the first half of the book).

My enjoyment level fell after around 60% in. I won't spoil anything, but if the focus of the first half of the book was on Damien's relationship with his super-hero father, step-mom, siblings and his nerdy classmate/minion-wanna-be, Sarah; the second half concentrates on Damien's love life (aka, a rather unbelievable and frustrating love triangle that made me want to slap the characters with their own book). The rape threats were a little bit out of place, and although we finally get to see Damien in action, the ending was rather rushed and anti-climatic.

Will I get the sequel? Yes! I even heard it's better!
Will I recommend to friends? Hmmm, it's not Vicious or Steelheart, but it's still one of the most refreshing and funniest superhero books I've read.
Profile Image for Cathy .
1,944 reviews52 followers
April 1, 2010
4.5 really, a terrific book.

First of all, keep in mind that this is an advanced copy, so any and all items are subject to change. That being said, I doubt much will change. I'm not a great editor and was too caught up in the story to pay much of attention, but I didn't note any typos or or other obvious errors (and I often do).

Anyway, the experience starts with the great cover. The design is echoed on the cover page and the first page of each chapter. The font type for both the text and page numbers are very cool and set a graphic-novel-like tone. (Although I would have liked the type font to be a bit larger, it didn't actually bother me, which surprised be me because I'm used to my adjustable font ebooks now. Maybe because it was so dark?)

The premise is very cute, about a kid, Damian Locke, raised by his supervillain mad scientist mom to aspire to heights (ha - he's afraid of heights) of supervillainy, only to find out suddenly on his 16th birthday that his dad was actually a hated superhero. So it's sort-of a nature vs. nurture exploration. But the writing takes the story well beyond the cute premise into being a really fun and thoughtful book with tons of humor, sarcasm, irony, adventure, and heart. The author captured the best elements of superhero stories and turned a few upside down and inside out. As most of us realize at some point, very little in this world is black and white. It turns out that even heroes and villains have to deal with shades of gray. And that goes double (triple, quadruple) for teens growing up and trying to figure out what the heck their parents and friends are thinking and doing.

The author did a great job of writing Damian, his best-friend Kat and his new friend Sarah. All three really ring true, especially Damian. He's that sarcastic, witty kid with the hard shell and inner softy we all want for a best friend (except I'm not good enough with the banter to keep up with him). It was so easy to get swept up in his story that I read the entire book in 2 sittings. It had a great flow and just kept my interest the entire time. I also identified with, or at least recognized, his mom and dad all too well, both good points and bad. I'd like to think that his mom was a bit more cartoonishly obvious as a supervillain, but unfortunately selfishness and neglect aren't restricted to the villain genetic lines. His dad seems pretty obvious at first and has a few lines that just floored me with his one-track mentality, but he got a bit more interesting by the end.

This is a book that will appeal to a really wide range of readers. It's good for both adults and teens, male and female. Younger teens or tweens would have to be pretty good readers, but there isn't really anything inappropriate for kids who aren't super-sheltered (there are mentions of where he was conceived, kissing in school).

Overall it was a great, entertaining story and I hope you guys will all pick it up and support this newly-published but long-suffering writer. And make sure there will be more books to follow!
Profile Image for Clinton Harding.
Author 3 books7 followers
March 5, 2012
I wish there were books like “Rise of Renegade X” on the shelves at my school library when I was that tender, impressionable age. Maybe I would have gotten into reading earlier than I did. This novel is perfect for boy readers who have a hard time making the transition between comic books to novels. Author Chelsea Campbell does well in transplanting the action of a superhero story into a novel. Yeah, there are cliché moments and tongue-and-cheek dialogue, but regardless I had fun. The novel does not take itself seriously and so it’s charming. It. Is. Fun! More often than not, I found myself grinning from ear-to-ear like a crazed fool.

Each of the characters here has his or her own voice, a unique personality that distinguishes them. More importantly, no one is wearing a black or white jersey. Well, some characters do. Most are wearing grey. It’s the supervillians who tend to be typical and who live up to expectations. What I found wonderful and interesting are the moments when the heroes act like villains; I won’t throw out a example and ruin the fun of a particular scene. This is what makes main character Damien Locke so fun to read, though. He’s in a moral grey area. Like his codename—Renegade X—suggests, he’s caught between two worlds, his mom is a supervillian and his dad’s a superhero. Are villainy and heroism products of how one is raised or something more deeply seeded? That is the question in the novel that Damien has to answer. Nature or nurture? And you know what, though he does some maniacal, evil things, I was cheering for him every step toward the climax.

Another thing about Damien that makes this novel shine is his voice, the first-person narrative style. Damien is our narrator from beginning to end and his voice is snarky, smart, and wickedly fun. His comments on the world around him are hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking. Everything comes at the reader fast, which moves the story along at a great pace.

One other point I want to make. The narrative, Damien’s thoughts and actions as well as the actions of people around him, can veer into adult situations. There is talk about sex, promiscuity, and the characters do curse. None of this marks the book as R or NC-17. In fact, I applaud the author for being so bold as to not shy away from these issues. She handles everything tastefully and with tact. Kudos, Ms. Campbell, for adding a little steam to the story that makes the narrative realistic but not smutty; boy’s won’t gag over some of the more tender or explicit scenes either.

Bottom line, this is a fun and awesome read for a teenage boy. Damien Locke is trying to discover and struggling with who he’s supposed to be, and every teenage boy will relate to the journey he takes in “Rise of Renegade X”.
Profile Image for A Canadian Girl.
471 reviews107 followers
February 23, 2011
The Rise of Renegade X begins with its protagonist, Damien, waiting to become sixteen and get the V on his thumb that signals he will become a supervillain. With his supervillain mother - the Mistress of Mayhem (aka Marianna Locke), - his friends and a bunch of strangers on hand at his birthday party to witness this milestone in his life, Damien eagerly waits for the clock to turn to midnight. Unfortunately, when the clock does strike twelve, Damien’s thumbprint forms a horrifying X, which basically means the inconceivable: his father is a superhero (with an H on his thumb)! Determined to find out the truth about how this could have happened, Damien asks his mother for details but she refuses to divulge anything. So, he resorts to snooping through his mother’s diary and then creates a list of potential superheroes that may be his father.

When Damien does finally meet his father, his dad manages to convince Marianna to let Damien stay with him for a while so that Damien can see what it’s like to be a superhero. Much to Damien’s shock, Marianna agrees because it’s a great opportunity for Damien to learn about the enemy (and it allows her to not have Damien underfoot as she works on her super secret nefarious project). With an X on his thumb, Damien better be prepared to work extremely hard to have it changed to a V or risk having the X become an H!

The Rise of Renegade X does a great job of looking at the power of choices. Normally those born with the “super” gene are fated to either go to Vilmore and become a supervillain or go to Heroesworth Academy and become a superhero. However, Damien has the luxury of being able to choose who he becomes because it’s ultimately his actions that will determine whether he becomes a supervillain or a superhero.

Speaking of Damien, I absolutely adored his character! He had such a snarky voice and I loved all the high jinks he got up to. For example, the girl Damien is interested in thinks he’s a supervillain and the girl who is sort of interested in him thinks he’s a superhero, and Damien doesn’t hesitate to use the situation to his advantage. Naturally, it backfires.

I also really loved the ending which was surprising (but in a good way). Sometimes tough decisions need to be made and you have to do what you consider to be right despite the fact that not everybody will be happy with your choices.

One of the things that was unclear in The Rise of Renegade X though was the genetics behind how superpowers were inherited and what triggered the H, V or X to show up on one’s thumb specifically on their sixteenth birthday. Since I’m in the science stream, that stood out for me right away but I’m not sure if most people would be putting as much thought into that.
Profile Image for Linda C.
2,135 reviews13 followers
November 16, 2020
Damien is celebrating his 16th birthday and about to have his thumbprint reveal a V for supervillain when he gets the surprise of his life and an X appears instead. In this world populated by superheroes and supervillains Damien has just found out that he is half of each. He gets sent to his father's family to learn about his other half and determine which way he will develop. As he tries to continue proving he is a villain he meets up with all these events that challenge his morals. The book is hilarious. Lots of pranks and revenge that end up not doing as he hopes. Great fun.
Profile Image for Nasty Lady MJ.
1,060 reviews16 followers
January 11, 2015
To see the review with gifs click here.

If you’re not a fan of comics, the Silver Age was a period in comics that is sort of akin to the 1960’s Batman series. Rather, than having gritty series that depict super heroes in a relatively realistic way, you get some goofy stuff. And I love it…


The Rise of Renegade X sort of takes the idea of the Silver Age with it and forms it into a YA book. Which surprisingly works even though there were a few cringe moments…just because Silver Age.

What worked best for The Rise of Renegade X was that the main character had an amazing voice. Damien is snarky and hilarious, and his snark actually comes off as being fairly realistic-there are consequences for him opening his mouth. Also, he acts like a teenage boy would act. In a lot of YA novels, I roll my eyes (all the time) with how the male point of view is written. Here it actually comes off as realistic.

In addition to liking Damien’s point of view, I also liked how the book focused on aspects of Damien’s life that didn’t necessary include his romantic life.

While there is a subplot that deals with Damien’s romantic life, most of the book focuses on his family life. And this book does a good job focusing on his relationships with his mom, dad, half siblings, and step mother. Each character, save for the two younger half siblings, is well formed and has pretty realistic reactions to everything that’s going on.

Friendships are also looked at in this book, which is something I appreciate. And friendships of the opposite sex at that. It’s true that there’s some fooling around, but overall it’s primarily focused on friendship.

The plot is sort of ludicrous though. Which is expected because it does have a Silver Age vibe about it. I think it’s going to be something that people either really love or just get annoyed with. The overall story really is sort of simple, which is good because it allows the kookiness to work. For me, I was in the right mood for it so it worked. But I still rolled my eyes a little bit.

Overall, The Rise of Renegade X was a fun YA book that didn’t fall on the usual tropes. If you’re into superheroes and like a goofy element to them, this is your book.
Profile Image for Krystle.
913 reviews335 followers
October 19, 2010
This book is fabulous. For a story that revolves around superheroes and their superpowers you'd think it'd all be the glitz and glamor of what our main protagonist can do with very little depth or plot around them. Wrong. This book has everything you could ever want.

I can't even begin to explain all the issues that the author tackled in this story. There's a strong sense of finding your own identity while being torn in two different directions of what Damien is expected to be. There's also the conflict that he has over the residual feelings for an ex-girlfriend he parted with on not so good terms, but also new feelings for someone he shouldn't fall for and who's not really someone in the cool list. And on top of that another layer is added when he tries to cope with finding out his father is someone from the wrong side, the good side, that his mother has raised him up to ridicule and hate all his life. Damien is understandably upset, feels betrayed, and tries hard to fit in but can't get over his own beliefs.

This sounds very complex doesn't it and not at all like a superhero book, right? Wrong again. Damien is also forced to tackle and confront the powers that he knows he has within him, but is kept firmly behind denial and fear. Plus there's also a rescue the friend and save the world from evil deal. I mean, really, how can you have a amped up superhero book without some action. But whew. Pretty complex, eh?

But for all of these things, the story is not bogged by melodramatics or gratuitous angst. It strives a perfect balance and never drags. It's not fast-paced and is something you should enjoy for the scope of the character's growth and maturation throughout the book. There's something in here that everyone can connect even if you don't necessarily relate to the character. The boy's voice felt authentic, realistic, and was at times just oh so funny when the story needs a dash of humor to lighten up the seriousness.

The ending sort of disappointed me and some scenes/situations didn't sit right with me but on the whole it's absolutely recommended. If you want a ya book with a lot more substance, you can't look any farther than this.
Profile Image for Karin.
Author 15 books237 followers
March 26, 2010
Welcome to Golden City where superheroes and supervillains mingle with ordinary citizens. We meet the main character, Damien Locke, on the eve of his 16th birthday – the day his “V” is supposed to appear in his thumbprint. The day his fate is officially sealed. The day he becomes a REAL supervillain. His “V” will ensure his admission to Vilmore, the university for aspiring villains. So, standing in front of a crowd of people as the clock strikes Midnight, Damien watches as his thumbprint shifts…




The “X” has only been a rumor – until now. The shock of the “X” is bad enough to send Damien into a tailspin, but the cause of it is down-right devastating. The “X” means he has superhero in him. He’s never known his father but always assumed he was another supervillain like his mother, but he was wrong. His fears are confirmed when he confronts his mother and she reveals she had a one-night stand with a superhero in the middle of a particularly heated battle.

Damien is thrust into a world he doesn’t want anything to do with when his mother sends him to spend 6 weeks with his father and his superhero family. He attempts to maintain his supervillain persona in the midst of the enemy and is forced to make his own decisions about right and wrong.

Damien Locke is a delightful character. His snarky personality fills the book with humor and causes the reader to fall in love with him. Even though Chelsea Campbell set THE RISE OF RENEGADE X in a fantasy world filled with superheroes and supervillains, Damien still deals with typical teenage problems. He has to deal with a rotten friend, a cheating girlfriend, a major parent issues. THE RISE OF RENEGADE X is a fun story. The reader will love getting lost in Damien’s world. I know I can’t wait for the sequel.
Profile Image for Lazybee.
512 reviews28 followers
January 26, 2015
This book is a good read. But it was a one time read. Nothing more nothing less.
About the story - Damian is your cliche villain turned hero.
You will get your love triangle.
Spoiling world domination.
And super powers and stuff.

It's fairly enjoyable, but lacks originality.

Recommended to only those who likes super hero stuff and comics.
13 reviews13 followers
May 6, 2010

Damien had spent his whole life believing himself to be pure supervillain--despite the mystery that is his father. But on the day of his sixteenth birthday, instead of a v appearing on his thumb, he gets himself the mythical Third Letter--x. The apparent offspring of a villain and a hero, Damien knows he'd be the laughing stock of the villainous world if this gets out, not to mention completly ineligable for the top Supervillain school in the country. To better understand the severity of this issue, he goes on a hunt to find his superhero daddy, and finds out he's the host of a kid's safety program him and his BFFL Kat have mocked since they were youngins. Though more attractive a sperm donor then his less extravigant options, Damien is dismayed. Especially when BabyDaddy insists on having Damien spend the next six weeks with him.

Okay, is it possible to adore a book as much as I adored Renegade X? I think not.

I loved the entire concept from the start--world full of superheroes, story set in a New York City like metropolis with the highest villain/hero concentration in the world. And, like any city with a high concentration of anything, there are many a-colorful person. Has-been heroes taking jobs as dog trainers, bullies and mean girls wearing gloves on their right hands as a fashion statement to pretend they're villains. Folks born with a fucked up gene that decides for them what they will be: villain, hero or civilian. Criminal, savior or victim. And those really are the only options.

Damien was, hands down, the least-whiniest sixteen year old I've ever had the privelage to read about. Sure, he was sarcastic and snarky (my people!) but in a way that didn't make me want to rip out his intestines and choke him with it. That, my friends, is a rare treat indeed. I could totes picture this kid running around bitchslapping babydaddies and causing some X-rated chaos (ah-oooooooh!), and ya'll know if there's one thing I love, its a realistic protagonist. (Ignoring that fact that it took a novel about superheroes to get there).

I loved the whole black sheep angle Campbell took when sending Damien to live with his superhero family. For a few pages there, it felt like I was reading one of those middle grade shenanigan-laced adventures that ya'll know you love. You know, if everyone stopped making those hit-or-miss sex jokes.

The only problems I really had with Renegade X was the romance and the end. The romance, because (like everything else these days) it felt forced and a little out of place. Don't get me wrong, Damien and Kat were cute together and all that, but I didn't really see how they were in a relationship. Because they already tried that, see, but she used her Evil ShapShifting Power to make out with his best friend at a party a year ago, so I'm like, um, doesn't that warrant permanent seperation? I think so.

The end was what really drove me batshit. SPOILERS When Damien chooses to leave his eeeevil mother, who raised him, in favor of the superhero family he just met because its the right thing to do! I was about ready to tear this shit a new one. Whats this saying to you? That there can only be black and white, and you better pick white or yer going downstairs? Did it never occur to him that abondoning the women who made your meals and kissed your boo-boos would be just as negative a reflection on your character? And you can do this to your mother (who's a perfectly nice lady, aside from the whole mad scientist shtick) because she's a villain, but you can't dump your girlfriend, who's also a villain, only she made out with your best friend on your birthday while you were dating? Are you fucking serious?

So, aside from some obvious Good v. Evil cliches, Renegade X had the best protagonist I've read in a long time, and I sincerly hope there's more of him in Ms. Campbell's writing future.
Profile Image for Karissa.
3,967 reviews196 followers
June 5, 2015

I have had this book to review for what seems like forever. I was excited to finally get around to reading it. The books starts a bit slow, but ends up being a witty and entertaining story about what it means to be a villain or a hero.

Damien is super excited for his sixteenth birthday, the day when the whorls on his thumb will arrange themselves into a V and he will be able to commit to the life of a supervillain. However things don’t go according to plan when instead of a V he gets an X on his thumb...the dreaded third mark that means he has a superhero parent and a villain parent. He knows his mom is the villain but who is his dad? When he finds out his mom suggests (forces) him to spend a few weeks with his paternal superhero family which goes against everything he’s ever known. Soon he will be forced to make a choice; will he chose the life of a villain which is all he’s ever known or does the life of a superhero hold more promise for him?

The book starts a bit slow and it took me a bit to get into the story, but once I did I really enjoyed it. Damien is very snarky and witty and I enjoyed reading about him. It was entertaining to watch him try to navigate a world of black and white where he ends up as a shade of grey.

What starts out as a seemingly simple mystery where Damien is going to help a new friend track down her dad, ends up as an effort to save the world. While Damien is used to and determined to be a supervillain, he also has a bit of a soft spot for doing what is right. It’s interesting to watch him struggle to straddle the two worlds while also trying to just be himself.

The side characters fell a bit short for me; none of them really grabbed me all that well. I also found the “romance” between Damien and Kat to be a dry and abrupt. Although I did enjoy Damien’s parents and how they represented good and evil while still struggling with normal parenting issues.

Damien is incredibly snarky and funny and some of the dialogue throughout the book is incredibly fun. The whole story has a overtone of snarky playfulness throughout with just a hint of heartfelt sincerity here and there.

This book does a great job of showing how sometimes heroes fall short and villains can be heroic.

Overall I ended up enjoying this quirky and witty little book about the shades of grey between superheroes and villains. It was an entertaining read; although it took me a while to really get sucked into the story the second half of the book was very engaging. I am uncertain right now as to whether or not I will read the second book, The Trials of Renegade X. I would recommend to those who enjoy coming of age type stories with snarky superhero villains.
Profile Image for Ingenue.
238 reviews1 follower
November 28, 2009
My secret love of cheesy superheroic cliches made this vastly entertaining to me, probably more than it really deserves. Now I need a crossover with Disney's "Sky High" universe. I also need a sequel!
Profile Image for Mylan Allen.
Author 4 books15 followers
May 8, 2018
One of the first and best completely superhero-based novels that i have ever read!! Chelsea Campbell is one of my favourite authors and i cant wait to read more Renegade
Profile Image for Vanessa.
154 reviews7 followers
December 27, 2015
3.5 stars
Until a little more than half this story was awesome, after that it got all boring, predictable and pretty stupid. I'm still reading the next book with the hope it'll get better.
March 12, 2014
The Rise of Renegade X is a decent book with a lovable cast, but fails to really deliver on what could be a very interesting concept.

Superheroes are honestly one of my favorite literary topics. If superhero/metahuman lit was a genre all of its own, I'd spend most of my time and money there. I has high hopes for The Rise of Renegade X as a result -- hopes that were bolstered by its female author, snarky protagonist, and solid concept. What if you were raised by a supervillain, only to find out as you came of age that you were also half superhero?

Overall the book is good. It's highly entertaining: the action scenes are passable, and the pacing is decent. As far as style and prose are concerned, Campbell at least knows the rules of the road, which, seeing that this is her first novel, is actually pretty impressive. Most of the characters are funny, interesting, and multi-dimensional, including the two female "love interests" (term used loosely). Damien, the main character, is fantastically lovable, with many great verbal quips and a very distinctive voice that I enjoyed.

There a few things that really drag the book down and make it obvious that it's Campbell's first. Most of them are small: there are points at which the narrative lurches and jumps forward unexpectedly with almost no explanation; certain characters seem to be written into parts of plot-convenience rather than personality-consistency; the plot is generally pretty formulaic, which it never defies or twists into anything surprising or funny or exceedingly original, which is a little disappointing at times.

But there are two big issues I had with the book that are difficult to reconcile myself to, and that absolutely warrant discussion. The first -- and perhaps biggest one -- is that characters in Campbell's world -- and Damien specifically -- never react appropriately to exactly what they're being put through. (Note: spoilers to follow.)

This happens several times throughout the novel, where things happen and characters don't react with horror, the way they ought to. This ultimately manifests in two things: (1) the characters fail to seem fully cognizant of what's actually going on around them and (2) the main character himself doesn't read like a teenager, which makes you wonder why he was written as one in the first place.

This all tapers into the second large issue I have with the book, which is that it fails to fully explore, in a multi-dimensional way, the world in which it takes place, which means it never capitalizes (fully or otherwise) on its own core concept. The book busily establishes a moving plot to keep the reader engaged, but since Damien never reacts to anything actually bad that happens to him with much more than token annoyance and confusion, it's hard to be any more invested than he is. Despite the fact that The Rise of Renegade X establishes itself as a narrative founded around someone who falls outside of a structured binary system, it spends almost no time or effort examining that binary. There is no real exploration of what makes a superhero or a supervillain or whether it has nothing to do with genetics. There is no expansion on what is expected of superheroes or villains from society at large, or what impact their existence has on the rest of the world. Golden City exists in a vacuum, and it's story isn't about a protagonist that disrupts the system and questions it, but about a protagonist who eventually falls into the binary by accident.

My final ruling is that The Rise of Renegade X is a good book to pass the time with, but is nothing extraordinary.
161 reviews3 followers
July 13, 2020
Deep inside me there is a little Jo who loves Teen Titans, Megamind, and The Incredibles, and this book was for her. So fun and completely irreverent, yet not innocent enough to come across as dumb. Now to find the second book....
Profile Image for Starr.
91 reviews1 follower
June 16, 2022
Surprisingly I really enjoyed it, the ending was cliche but still fun. The humour was goofy and witty, I laughed at almost every other page. The characters acted a tad immature for their age but I can suspend my disbelief for that and it did not bother me as much. The themes explored in the book were not deep, but since the whole book had a middlegrade feel, it was appropriate.
Profile Image for Tom.
7 reviews
March 19, 2018
3.5 rounded up to 4.

Sketch notes: I changed the costume a bit to match the description in the book, plus stylized the "X" to keep it from looking to much like "X-Men".

Interesting characters.
Fun anti-hero protagonist.
A promising intro to the series, which gets even better in the sequel.

Not so nice:
Semantics. Super powered individuals are literally branded with an “H” or “V” to indicate them as heroes or villains. Ignoring the silly scientific explanations, the story is pretty clear that there good villains and bad heroes. Villains are also inconsistently described as both despised criminals and publicly admired personas, whichever fits the situation. So what is the point of the “H” or “V” other than as a frustrating plot device? It holds a good story back from being even better, limiting it to something more two dimensional. That said, maybe this isn't an issue for younger readers. =D

The Cloak Society (child of super villains, but would rather be a hero)
Artemis Fowl (evil mastermind/villainous protagonist)
Sensation (fun coming of age superhero series)
Heroes Rise: The Prodigy (choose your own adventure (!) superhero series)
Profile Image for Sha.
980 reviews34 followers
July 28, 2020
Plot: Family drama with superhero flavoring.

1. The Renegade X series starts with a pre-judged villain/hero dichotomy that's uh- not really explained all that well. I get that it's trying to discuss (possibly in a tongue in cheek manner) discrimination and judging by appearances and whatnot. But I really do not understand why you would make a conscious choice to have supervillains as the oppressed minority analogue while not discussing how exactly one gets branded a villain or a hero? From the random pieces of worldbuilding I've cobbled together it looks like a sort of caste system based upon the kind of powers a person has? Except that the supervillains also regularly plot world domination and do murder and someone gets rejected from supervillain high school (???) for not exhibiting enough ruthless tendencies?

Me, wailing: the worldbuilding makes NO SENSE.

2. On the other hand, let's be real- Renegade X isn't a story about superpeople. It has superpeople in it and all around it, sure. But it's actually a family dramedy and I can absolutely get on board with that.

3. I found it a lot easier to ignore the worldbuilding nonsense in this book than I did in Renegades, mostly because (a) the worldbuilding has relatively little to do with the actual plot, and (b) when it does pop up, it's campy enough to to be handwaved in a sitcom kinda way. The Rise of Renegade X isn't trying to make a grand sweeping statement; it's mostly here to have fun. And that's perfectly fine, mostly because it's really good at having fun and we could all use a bit of that in our lives.

4. Most of that fun comes from our first person protagonist, Damien Locke. Damien is a little shit. He's also a hilarious, competent little tsundere and reading his PoV is a constant delight. Damien maybe unaware of (or actively avoiding) his internal tension of both being a good person and being raised into supervillainy (whatever that is), but the text frequently drags this dichotomy into the forefront, and it's really good.

5. Damien's interactions with his newfound superhero family? Also good. There's just something really compelling about awkward family stuff featuring people trying, y'know. And while the hero/villain thing forms the initial point of the conflict here, the continuing conflict is the clash of personalities and beliefs. It gets a little shaky sometimes (especially if my brain goes off on a tangent about the worldbuilding) but it's mostly recognizable as the story of people desperately trying to build relationships with family they didn't know about. Contrast this with the growing distance between Damien and his mother- his only parent for the last sixteen years, and things get even more compelling.

6. I'd say that the romance and the supervillain takeover bits were pretty weak in comparison. The romance mostly because Kat is a sobbing, stressed-out mess. Now, I've read the later books and that means I'm quite fond of her, but her role in this one is very much distressed damsel in love with the protagonist which... yeah, not ideal. The villain takeover plot is the bit which suffers the most from the unclear worldbuilding, but it also features some very clear "oh, they have to go" antagonists so the problem is not immediately jarring- it just makes me twitchy when I try to think about it later on.

7. It's still one of the better superpeople books I've read? Superhero books are hard to write because you have a set aesthetic that is chaotic and incomprehensible and you then need to base your worldbuilding around it and not everybody can Sanderson (both as a general AND specific reference; see Steelheart) their way out of that mess. So beleive it or not, family drama with a lovely protag and sharply limited superpowers is a pretty good call.
Profile Image for Tina.
444 reviews456 followers
March 14, 2011
Original post at One More Page

I used to be a fan of the X-Men animated series when it was first aired in my country when I was a kid. I wasn't able to watch most of it, though, but when I got a little bit older, I loved watching the newer series, X-Men Evolution, which I loved and tried to catch as much as I can. I couldn't decide which mutant I want to become, or what superpowers I'd want to have if I were one.

The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell reminded me of all those days I watched those animated series almost religiously with her fun and action-packed superhero novel. Normal people flock Golden City not to see the sights but in hopes of getting mugged by a supervillain and be rescued by a superhero. They also come in hopes of attending a party like what anti-hero Damien Locke has at the start of the story, where he would show the everyone the moment his thumb print turns into a V, just like every supervillain's has when they turn 16. Superheroes have their thumb prints turn into an H, which literally separates the good guys from the bad guys. Damien never expected that his thumb print would turn into an X -- born out of the union of a villain and a hero. What's worse is he finds out that his dad is the goody-two-shoes Crimson Flash, who was determined to show that Damien can be a hero despite his insistence that he was a villain through and through. We follow Damien as he tries to find his identity through a new school, some bullies, an annoying half sister, a wannabe sidekick and a city-wide zombification plan. All in a day's work of a superhero or a supervillain, right?

The Rise of Renegade X is such a fun novel that I can't believe I put off reading it for so long. This not only reminded me of the coolness of X-Men, but also the fun and creativity of the movies Sky High and The Incredibles. The best part of the novel is Damien, hands down. I loved his voice and his snark. It's impossible not to like him and root for him and hope all his plans, no matter how stupid they may seem, work out. Damien is smart and very self-aware for someone who is 16, but that doesn't mean he's always nice. However, his motivations for doing the "villain-y" stuff were never really just to be bad or cruel but most often in payback for something wrong did to someone, so it makes you wonder how much of a hero he really is. This choice offered to him makes Damien more real and gives the story depth, focusing on how a person should have a choice of who they want to be regardless of what family they were born with or not.

The supporting characters, particularly the ladies, makes the story more interesting, too. There's half-sister Amelia who's jealous of Damien's position in the family and tries to make his life a living hell. There's supervillain Kat, Damien's ex-girlfriend who he insists isn't special to him anymore despite the attraction he feels. And then there's Sarah, a new classmate who assigns herself as Damien's sidekick and tries to insist that he's more of a hero than a supervillain. These girls bring out the different sides of Damien, and it's fun to see how he reacts to each one and how it shoes that he's not really your average villain or hero.

There's little I could say with the plot, although I kind of hoped Damien went the other way instead. But the ending was still pretty satisfying that has that superhero-happy-ending-feel that the movies I mentioned above did. I wouldn't be surprised if this book is made into a movie, or at least, inspire a movie. The Rise of Renegade X is a fun read, recommended to all fans of superhero (or supervillain) shows, comics or movies. I think people in my generation would definitely relive a lot of memories with this one. :)
Profile Image for Vanessa.
391 reviews13 followers
June 12, 2012

Before starting this book, I was hoping VERY much that it would turn out to be kick-ass, what with the amazing synopsis. Hello? Supervillains? With the promise of boundless fun and action? I WAS DYING TO READ THIS.
But what was expected to be kick-ass sometimes became more ass than fun.
First of all, Damian Locke... perplexes me. He BAMBOOZLES me. Why would he go off kissing Sarah when he's supposed to be concentrating on changing his thumbprint? and don't get me wrong, Damian feels really platonic about Sarah, and kissing her doesn't even further anything. He just does it because, hey, when a girl kisses you, you gotta just kiss back eh? His decisions often make me feel very conflicted, and I really don't know what to say- I'm often just left there staring at the book.
Other than that, why is Damian portrayed to be so weirdly crass? I was really expecting the charming Supervillain, which did not come out, and I was left with there were quite some other awkward occurrences that were very strange and I felt mildly grossed out by Damian did. Most of these instances, include him moaning. And I don't mean in a painful way. (doesn't it sound vaguely pornographic?)

If he were a classmate in school, I would disassociate myself completely from him.

I also don't get why he wants to get back with Kat. She drinks herself drunk over her heartbreaking breakup with Damian and hooks up with other guys in the process, and not really exhibiting the behaviour one might have for a girl supposedly heartbroken and pining for her boyfriend. It's a bit too much, you know, how you are supposedly kissing other guys to forget Damian.

But anyways, the good bits. Well it wasn't that bad, there were redeemable points in the book -mind you, three stars is a "I liked it"- like when Damian reveals he spent about 500 dollars worth of subscriptions to risqué supervillain magazines like Hottest villains, Girls galore- Supervillain Edition, Naughty, Not Nice, not to mention all under his dad's name, one mag a day for two years or that really epic moment when he EMBRACES HIS BETTER HALF and tries to save that girl from the building on fire and putting worms in his dad's shampoo- now that, I nearly spit out my drink at his dad's reaction.

"Gordon comes in from the bathroom, wearing a bathrobe. His hair is wet and he keeps touching it, like he's feeling for something. He seems kind of twitchy. "Damian," he says, "can I have a word with you?"
I put my hand over the receiving end of the phone. "Do you mind?"
"Did you put...?" He shuts his eyes and shudders. "Did you put worms in my shampoo?"
I guess the worms all sunk to the bottom of the bottle. That or he's waited four days to wash his hair, since I put them there on Sunday while everyone was at church."

That being said, the humour was probably the only thing I really would go for in the book, the rest is more of a meh reaction, well like I said it wasn't too bad, execution just needed to be worked on, but if there is a next book, I'll probably read the first-- OKAY I JUST LOOKED AT THE TINY DESCRIPTION OF THE SEQUEL AND I DON'T CARE ABOUT ANY MISGIVINGS INDUCED IN THIS BOOK BECAUSE... BECAUSE " It's about him trying to get comfortable with his hero side... and getting a villain power instead."
Leave me here to die. WHY MUST THOU TEMPT ME SO?!
Profile Image for Yan.
348 reviews75 followers
May 18, 2010
The Rise of Renegade X is a novel of wicked humor that gives its own unique spin of heroes vs. villains through an unexpected crass narrative. This ain’t your average Marvel Comics kids.

Damien Locke has been waiting his entire life for the appearance of the mighty V on his thumb to signify that he is a true supervillian. Yet on his sixteenth birthday he discovers that he is not in fact a supervillian, he’s…actually he’s not sure what he is because on this thumb it lays an X. Not a V for villain nor even an H for hero, but an X! It turns out his mother, a supervillian, made error of judgment in her younger years and now sixteen years later Damien discovers that he’s the birthchild of a supervillian and a superhero. Now that Damien knows he’s determine to find out who his father was, but maybe he wished he hadn’t.

Damien finds himself stuck with a six-week crash course on how to be a superhero when his mother and his ‘father’ agreed to expose Damien to the life of a superhero. This change from his daily life is because any time from 1 year to up to 5 years Damien’s X will turn into a V or even an H depending on his choices and actions. But Damien is sure that he’s meant to be a supervillian and will do everything he can to turn that X into a V!

But what does having your half-sister’s lace sock in your pants, being pushed off extremely tall buildings (when he’s deathly afraid of heights), being the experiment of the school’s ‘freak’ and a Mr. Wiggles have to do with any of that!? Apparently a lot it seems.

The Rise of Renegade X will leave its reader snorting with laughter sometimes garnering looks from peers and strangers. But it’s fine because you’ll be too busy laughing your butt off and enjoying this sarcastic wit and humor and rollercoaster scream fest to care.

Chelsea Campbell’s character Damien Locke is your typical and atypical teenage boy with his own troubles of hormones and an ex-girlfriend before dealing with the whole family issue. He has frenemies, a mom that’s currently dating the president of a school that he’s dying to attend, and a dad who saves kittens from trees as a career—what’s not to love about his life? (Well maybe we can love it all because it spells en entertaining read, but for Damien not so much.)

Damien’s life is the perfect scenario of a modern-day single home family; even more so with only his mother in his life for the first sixteen years. Campbell weaves current issues such as that, weight (overall appearance) and the pursuit of higher level of education stress into the novel while mixing in ‘comic-book’ sense of flair that impacts a much greater deal than one might assume.

Readers may find The Rise of Renegade X fulfilling yet unfulfilling. There are certain details of the book I wished I could have more clarification on, but as a whole this laugh-out-loud induced novel will please both genders and leave them continually checking to see if there will be a sequel.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for JG (Introverted Reader).
1,118 reviews484 followers
May 13, 2010
Damien Locke is the son of the Mistress of Mayhem, a mad scientist supervillain living in Golden City. On his sixteenth birthday, he has a huge party to celebrate his thumbprint becoming a "V," meaning that he's a born supervillain. Except that it doesn't. It becomes a mythical "X," which can only mean one thing: his dad must be a superhero. Where does that leave Damien?

I had a lot of fun reading this! Damien might not be the most scientific supervillain, or the strongest, but he is definitely clever and creative, a combination that leads to some ingenious plans. But he also felt like a normal teen. He freaks out when his whole life plan and everything he knows about himself is thrown into question. He hides them well, but he has some insecurities. He's sarcastic but tries his best to be a good boyfriend and friend. Girls baffle him but he keeps trying. If he makes up his mind that he's got a reason to get revenge on someone, he takes it in ways that are totally unpredictable and frequently hilarious. He just can't help caring about the people around him in spite of himself.

I liked the way that this adventurous superhero story can also be read as a story about choices. Just because your parents are good or bad doesn't mean that you have to follow in their footsteps. Just because you think that you were born to be one thing doesn't mean that you can't at least try doing something else.

The other characters were great too. Kat was so totally random and fun and well-developed. She messes up before the story even begins and she feels awful about it. Sarah is just a geek to the rest of her school, but Damien finds out that she's brilliant and loyal. The supervillains didn't spend a lot of time being villainous, but they were great villains when they wanted to be.

There's a little bit of a love triangle, and I can see it happening under the circumstances, but the book would have been just as good if not better without it. But we all know that I am sick and tired of love triangles.

The superhero/villain thing had me thinking this might be more a middle grade book. Now that I've read it, I would put it firmly in the YA section. There's nothing graphic in the book, but Damien is a pretty normal 16-year-old guy, and what do teen guys think about? You got it. He just makes a few innuendos about sex and nothing serious happens, but it is in there.

I highly recommend it for the young adult and adventure-loving adult crowd! It was just a lot of fun and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Profile Image for Coquille Fleur.
229 reviews10 followers
August 27, 2011
This book has the perfect premise, so clear-cut yet utterly original. Fans of comic books and superheroes will absolutely eat this baby up. I devoured this book pretty quickly considering my lack of free time. The pace is fast and the writing is snappy, snarky, and sometimes snippy. Damien is a Supervillian, about to get his V (a sign that appears on the thumb on one's 16th birthday), but when the day arrives, complete with a money-making party for tourists, his world crumbles as an X appears. Luckily, his best friend and also villain, Kat, has already received her super-power, so she shape-changes into Damien complete with a V on his thumb for the cameras. What follows is one crazy adventure after another as Damien struggles with his now uncertain future. Life isn't as black and white as it seemed just a day ago when there were either Heroes or Villains, but nothing in between. Receiving an X was just an urban legend, or so Damien thought. Why would a Supervillain ever do it with a Superhero? They hate each other, right...right?

As Damien finds out his mother's dirty little secret linking him to his past, his world is turned upside-down and he has to navigate a whole new reality where he is half Hero. It's up to him to decide whether he will turn the X into a V or an H, depending on his behavior. Chelsea Campbell writes with humor and a strong voice that really puts the reader in Damien's head as he struggles with the archetypical teen problems of who he is and what he is going to be when he grows up -- if he even makes it that long.

The world of this novel is tight, detailed, totally believable. I was sucked right in. Damien is hilarious, sometimes exasperating, but always loveable in a quirky kind of way. There were times when I thought this book was predictable, but ultimately the way he got to the end I figured on was not at all what I was expecting. His self-appointed sidekick, Cosine, was adorable, but I struggled a bit with the obligatory YA love triangle. This book actually had two love triangles going on, with Damien and his ex-best friend fighting over Kat and Kat and Cosine fighting over Damien. All in all, it worked out satisfactorily, but for those folks who hate a love triangle, be warned. Give this book a chance, regardless, though, because the writing is fresh, the pace is rockin', and it's all around an amazing world to be in. I was sad to turn to the last page. The ending is satisfying, standing on its own, but Campbell does hint at more to come. I can only hope there is a sequel. I'd read it for sure.
Profile Image for nikki.
56 reviews5 followers
March 17, 2010
The Rise of Renegade X is an unconventional tale that explores an avenue of both superheroes and supervillains in a whole new YA adventure. And it plays out to be a super fun ride!

First and foremost, what really makes this book so enjoyable is the voice of our leading protagonist, Damien Locke. He's got a well mixed blend of snark, sarcasm, and teenage kid idiocy. Like any teen his age, he can't help but get himself into trouble. Only his kind of trouble involves the lives of both family and friends.

But not only is Damien Locke the shining star of the novel, he is followed by some very enjoyable secondary characters. Whether it's his mad-scientist mom, or his safety first father, or the two smart (yet very different) girls who have both taken a romantic interest in Damien - each one has a unique voice and provides a certain vivaciousness that keeps the story at a constant entertaining level.

Through the rest of the journey of caped heroes, evil villains, nagging siblings, and budding love interests, we see Damien in a constant battle with the unforeseen force of his heritage. Being that he is one of the few people in history to have the infamous "X" mark on his thumb, proving that he is product of both superhero and supervillain - he actually has a chance to choose his destiny. After being raised by his supervillain mom for the last 16-years, the boy has a flair for mischief. But little by little we see the good side start to come into focus. But which side will he choose?

Overall Consensus: The Rise of Renegade X isn't your average superhero tale. Sure it's got the capes and a devious plan to take over the world, but it also explores the avenue of the superheroes and villains as regular people underneath the tight garb and special powers. It's not all about fighting good versus evil, but shows the love between family that gives the book a believable feel. The characters themselves are wild and vivid, always providing interesting dialogue and I loved them all. It's an exciting ride from start to finish; displaying a few super powers of its own. Fantastic debut from Chelsea Campbell!
Profile Image for Peace Love and Reviews.
236 reviews38 followers
March 8, 2010
The first page will immediately throw you into the world of our protagonist. All his life Damien Locke is set to be a great super villain. His mother after all is the great Mistress of Mayhem. A mad scientist who also happens to shoot laser beams from her eyes. Damien lives in Golden City (their very own Gotham City), where in heroes and super villains live among the regular people. Yes disguise and all that. It was said that on the night of a hero or villains sixteenth birthday, a mark on their thumb will be formed. V for villain, H for hero, and X for mix genes between hero and villain tryst. It is very rare and frowned upon since they obviously hate each other. Damien never dreamt that he would be one of these rare ones. All of a sudden his dreams of going to Vilmore (super villain school) and training together with his ex-girlfriend Kat seems impossible and to get matters worst his curiosity to find who his superhero dad turned bad. He only wanted to know who the guy is not live with him. The events following that was full of hilarious and villany antics. Befriending a girl named Sarah, surviving flying lessons with his dad, writing people on his revenge list, sorting out his feelings with Kat, blackmailing his half sister, all the while telling himself that he will be a great villain yet he keeps doing some heroic stuff and adapting the code name Renegade X.

Damien Locke is sarcastic, smart, hilarious, quick witted and shrewd young man. I wasn't sure that I was really up to reading it. The Sky High-ish theme of this book not to mention the very eye catching blurb changed my mind all too quickly. This was more than what I have expected. Damien will charms every reader. Despite the fact that our protagonist was raised as a super villain his traits are actually a cross between hero and villain, his views sounded more reasonable. He has the making of a great action hero. When is book two coming out? I'm excited to see what Kat, Sara and Damien going to be doing.
Profile Image for PurplyCookie.
942 reviews206 followers
July 10, 2012
Damien Locke lives in an alternate universe inhabited by superheroes, supervillains, and regular people. If you are a hero, a letter H appears on your thumb when you turn 16. If you are a villain, you get a V.

On his 16th birthday, Damien gets an X. He is half hero, half villain, the product of a one-night stand between his mad-scientist supervillain mother and superhero father Crimson Flash, otherwise known as Gordon Tines. Gordon is certain that his son will become a full-fledged hero, but the teen is equally certain that he is going to end up a villain, and is counting on admission to Vilmore, the villain academy. While he tries to make life for his father and stepfamily unbearable, Damien's mom is hooking up with the head of Vilmore romantically as well as using her hypno-device to take over the city, and Damien is forced to choose sides.

I think this book has a very promising plot. I love that it's about villains, heroes, and the in-betweens. However, this book mentions a lot of sexual things. It's not really explicit, but the main character dishes out a bunch of jokes on sex, lies to people in ways that revolve around nudity and sex, and even makes some really tasteless comments to his mom after discovering that his dad is a superhero (and the manner in which said superhero dad and villain mom conceived him - which wasn't a surprise, but it only adds to my point; on this latter point, it's tasteless and disrespectful, but it seems like a typical teen reaction).

I thought Damien was not at all funny; his sarcasm and boyishness seemed artificial. There was too much of an emphasis on sexual jokes to the point where I thought the author used them to make him seem like more of a guy, too much of an emphasis on the romance which ended up annoying the reader, and the writing was clunky and wasn't smooth enough to show what was going on (even dialogue was odd to me).

Book Details:

Title The Rise of Renegade X (Renegade X #1)
Author Chelsea Campbell
Reviewed By Purplycookie
Profile Image for Liz.
884 reviews185 followers
November 8, 2010
I don’t know of any other upper YA books that are about superheroes and villains like The Rise of Renegade X is. To be honest, I wish initially wary of this novel. I was concerned that it might be, “Action! Action! Fancy James Bond spy gear! Boyish emotion to which Liz cannot relate! MORE ACTION!” (Yes, I do periodically forget that boys have thoughts and emotions that I can relate to, although typically I wonder what they even think at all.) Campbell pleasantly surprised me with a lovable cast of characters and a well-paced story.

I found the whole premise of this story, a kid whose the child of a super hero and villain, pretty amusing. I was constantly wanting to knowing what happened, but there was plenty of character building, so the action didn’t overwhelm the novel as I had feared. There was also a love story that played a part, and I was quickly drawn in by it.

If you like snark, then Damien Locke is about to become one of your new favorite characters. His narration had me cracking up throughout the entire novel. Yet I also felt a connection with him, because he over thought things and sometimes felt conflicting emotions. I ultimately felt that she used his character to send some great messages about what one inherits versus the choices one makes, but that Damien’s character was realistic enough that I didn’t feel like I was being hit over the head with it. I also have to say that the Crimson Flash kept me chuckling, because at times he was too much of an idealist.

I was pleasantly surprised by The Rise of Renegade X. I thought the ending was a tiny bit rushed, but also incredibly feasible. However, I’d love to see how Damien comes with future obstacles that come his way, so if Campbell decides to provide a sequel, I’ll be eager to pick it up.
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