What I love most about dissent RENEGADES is its cast of characters. Furness juggles a lot of them, but he does it well. He uses the “George R.R. Martin perspective-switch” each chapter, so if you’re a fan of that story-style I’d give this one a try.
But Furness’ main-main character is Ellie, a young apprentice who lives in Port Harmony. Her job is to care for Furness’ fictional creatures called “orgo.” I’m not sure if the plural term for them is orgos or orgo. But I’m going with orgo because it sounds cool. Like a flock of orgo. A pod of orgo. A gaggle of orgo? That’s it.
Fun fact: an orgo is basically a fuzzy velociraptor with a long neck. You can see them on the cover of dissent RENEGADES. I didn’t realize it but orgo are the very things I needed in my life. And I’ll be damned if they aren’t what you need, too.
So, main-character Ellie lives in a barn with her employer, Cedric, and occasionally travels to the market to buy supplies and flirt with Evan at the orgo food stand. You know, standard heroine origin story stuff. BUT, Ellie makes a stand as an original character. She’s not your boiler-plate young adult female main character. She isn’t the “I’m pretty but I can’t acknowledge it, someone please take care of me, I’m super dramatic about my own problems and nobody else’s” type. She’s fun, transparent, semi-reckless, and a little childish. And she doesn’t take herself too seriously.
My favorite trait of Ellie’s is the way she calls everyone “precious” as a nickname—boy, girl, animal, elrupe (you’ll see). I imagine her like Rey from Star Wars, but if Rey had a slight, cockney accent and was hot-headed but still incredibly endearing.
Next to Ellie stands a full cast of strong, female characters. Ellie admires Evan’s sister, Haylee and Haylee’s three friends, Morrigan, Ditto, and Tik. Haylee is impressive in her own right. She uses the phrase “eyes on me” to command attention from her “team.” However, she’s also not the stereotypical Mary-Sue badass that people have been a little concerned with lately in young adult literature. Her “dark-knight, I must do this alone” complex gets her into trouble. A lot. And rightfully so. There’s nothing that makes me more frustrated than a character who refuses help from their obviously willing friends. But Haylee gets punished accordingly for it.
Morrigan is collected, but she has a sad past. Ditto is hard to explain. She seems to be either rash or sheepish, but never anywhere in between. Tik doesn’t get as much airtime as the three girls, but you’ll get to see more of him closer to the end.
Ellie, Haylee and the crew live in one of three cities amidst an ice-age wracked land. The oldest city is Scorr Tanta, and it is easily the most advanced. Towers constructed within Scorr Tanta pour heat onto the icy citizens, which means the city is never very cold. Eklips, run by its ruler, Kayden, is a dark and terrifying slave city. And Port Harmony is where the kids are from.
My favorite description of the cities was the one for Eklips. One of the characters in the novel ends up in Eklips as a slave. It sounds awful– cold, slushy, dark. And the slaves in Eklips didn’t get clothes to wear other than rags. So they essentially had to live through an ice-age dressed in washcloths, and they were beaten on the regular. The punishment for any crimes that take place in Scorr Tanta and Port Harmony is an immediate enslavement in Eklips, which gives the main characters actual, brutal reasons for being afraid to stand up for themselves.
The conflict comes when a small group of masked invaders calling themselves “Renegades” raids the cities’ food supplies total old-timey-bandana’d-robber-on-train style. I would say the Renegades are unstoppable, but it’s clear that the group meant to stop them, the “Wardens” (police-figures) are incredibly incompetent. Kayden, the rash slave-trader, visits Port Harmony to stir up trouble and to steal one of Haylee’s friends. Meanwhile, the leader of Scorr Tanta loses her mind at the idea of the renegades existing.
Dissent RENEGADES is an imaginative novel with a lot of heart. Sometimes I felt like I was reading a play, if that makes sense? Hear me out: there are a ton of dramatic, stealing-away-under-the-cover-of-night antics. If you’re into the romantic side of young adult novels, (which I’m not all that much) dissent RENEGADES is a touch stingy until the final chapters when romance hits from every direction like an angry orgo gaggle. So fair warning. There are twists and double-crossings and people go missing like every other chapter. Keep a notebook or field guide if you read dissent RENEGADES. Kidding! There’s a handy map included with every copy.
Reminds Me Of
Game of Thrones meets Star Wars meets Borderlands 2.
Adapt it for Broadway. Cast Chris Pratt as the Orgo-Tamer.
Thanks for reading, guys! If you want Furness’ book you can buy dissent RENEGADES on Amazon. And if you want to see another book review go and check out my review of The Epiphany Machine by David Burr Gerrard.