Monday, August 30, 2010

Book Review: The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell

SUMMARY (From amazon):

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


Entertaining, comical and plenty villainous, The Rise of Renegade X is a great mix of superheroes/villains, the elements that readers have loved in comics for years, and plenty of ties in and connections to the YA genre in general. Campbell has created a great world where superheroes and villains exist openly, even if their specific identities are kept a secret, while also making it believable.

Damien has been raised by only his mom, a supervillain who has taught him plenty of the tricks of her trade. He is arrogant and cocky, while still holding some sensitive, deeper aspects as well. The general view, both in the book and for readers, tends to be that villains have no shred of good in them. Damien, however, is a perfect example of the fallacies of this, and is very relatable, apart from the whole aspires to be a supervillain and might have a slightly skewed since of right and wrong thing. Damien is amusing, comes up with some great trips, and has a fantastic stream of consciousness with a flat, straight forward sense of humor that comes with the world he lives in and what he aspires to be. The changes in his mindset and self as the book progresses are great, some of them obvious to the reader but still blind to him, and others coming as a great surprise.

Kat is kind, despite a few mistakes in the past, and a great friend to Damien. Together, they are very realistic and relatable and their interactions are both endearing and amusing. Sarah, too, adds a very sensible aspect to both Damien and the story, coming off as a nutjob but still having plenty of great qualities that make her character worthwhile.

The plot itself holds at an overall steady pace. While some areas did drag, the back stories and overall development of not only the world but the characters—both main and side—help make up for this and shadow it. From the way Damien finds out about the identity of his father, to his reactions to it and where things continue to progress from there, The Rise of Renegade X is filled with twists, both funny and shocking. The writing is bold, giving a strong voice to Damien and filled with surprising amounts of both detail and Damien’s mentality.

Overall, The Rise of Renegade X is a great read for anyone who likes actions. While some parts are mildly campy, this isn’t a typical superhero kind of book and will appeal to more than the comic book addicts. Damien is a strong central character with a big decision to make, even if he thinks the answer is clear. Both the plot and the final outcome of that decision will keep the reader interested, as will the well developed cast of characters.

Source: Review copy received from author/publisher as part of a promotional blog tour with
The Teen Book Scene
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: EgmontUSA (May 11, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1606840606
ISBN-13: 978-1606840603


  1. Hmm! Damien sounds like a fun character-and the story just sounds so unique! There goes another book into the TBR pile....

    Thanks for the great review, Kari!

  2. Ooh, I've been wanting to read thid for a long time! Sounds great and really fun, thanks for the review!