Chelsea M. Campbell’s Rise of Renegade X – Indie Book Spotlight

Hello, Readers, and welcome to this month’s Spotlight.

Today I’m reviewing a fun little supervillain story. This book was published by Egmont U.S.A. and again by Golden City publishing and the version I’m reviewing is the Audible release.

So, put on your best maniacal grin, whip out your high tech listening device of choice and get ready to deal with Damien Locke, supervillain on the rise.

Book Stats

    Author: Chelsea M. Campbell
    Formats: Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, and Audiobook.
    Price: Free via Kindle Unlimited, $0.99 otherwise, $10.99 for the Paperback, $17.99 for the Hardcover, and $12.59 or 1 Credit on Audiobook.
    Length: 234 pages, 7 hours and 44 minutes via Audible.
    Number of books in the series: At the time of writing, Five.

Basic Premise

It’s Damien’s sixteenth birthday and he couldn’t be more excited. In this world, your sixteenth birthday reveals something very special about you; are you a hero? Or are you a villain? If you’re unsure, check your thumb. People with a genetic predilection toward heroism will see their thumbprint morph from a hodgepodge mess of spirals into a big H. Villains, conversely, get a big fat V. There’s more to it than that with a nicely detailed backstory on how and why this is the way it is, and even which type of powers will generally manifest once you get your letter.

Damien’s Mother is a supervillain and he has no clue who his Father is so it seems pretty self evident that he’s going to get his V. So self evident, in fact, that he has his entire life planned out. Go to the very best Villain university, become a super genius evil scientist like his Mom, take over the world and rule it with an iron will comprised of snark and self importance.

However, life decides to throw him a curve ball.

No V. Not an H either. He gets an X.

It’s rare, but it happens every once in a great while. Heroes and villains generally don’t mix, but if your heritage takes a little from column A and a little from column B, you may wind up with an indeterminate genetic makeup that allows for growth in either direction. Like a morality system in a video game, you can perform paragon feats to enhance your chances of getting an H, or in Damien’s ideal scenario, do devious deeds to claim your V.

This begs the question though… well, several questions, really. For one, who is Damien’s Father? Secondly, why did his Mother keep this twist in his lineage a secret? And three, most importantly, where to go from here? He’ll never get accepted into Villmore University with an X on his thumb – it’s a Vs only kind of school as you might expect.

Complicating things further is Damien’s age and love life. Kat, his now best friend, once girlfriend, can shapeshift and used this ability to cheat on him with his, former, best friend. (Phew. I do not miss being a teenager.) They’re still close, but will she ever accept him if he’s anything but a villain?

Check out this fun story to find out!

My take

Rise of Renegade X sounded like a really great premise and I listened to it in only two sittings. I’m a sucker for stories about defying destiny, standing up to the odds and finding your own way regardless of what the world tells you you should be. Damien’s story is a particularly interesting one because as he’s asked to forge his own path, he’s being pulled in several different directions at once by people who genuinely have his best interests at heart. They all want to help him find himself… but at the end of the day, he’s the only one who can do it.

Damien as a character is quick witted, snarky, a little mean. I don’t want to give away too much in regards to his emotional arc, but despite the fact that his dearest wish is to be a supervillain, you can’t help liking and empathizing with him.

This book is very firmly within the YA genre. Love triangles, romantic entanglements, high school drama, will they-won’t they romance and escalating stakes because of it. If that’s not your kind of story and you want more superhero action, your mileage may vary here. I’ll be frank, relationship drama isn’t exactly my forte when it comes to fiction and while there’s a large portion of the story devoted to that, when it comes to the action stuff, this book definitely does not skimp. The final battle is especially great.

The audio version is a lot of fun. Read by Phillip Russell Newman, he does a lot of voices ranging from appropriately heroic to hilariously over dramatic.

All in all, this is a recommended read. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

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