The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell

Summary from Goodreads:

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.

The story, like the two previous superhero fiction books I've read, centers on Identity. He was raised by his single super villain mom in all things villainy. His whole future is mapped out already, with him going off to Villmore, a prestigious school that trains young potential super villains. But on his birthday, the momentous time where a letter on his thumb will finally appear, which will also officially signify his being a true blue villain. But instead of a "V", meaning he's a villain; it turned out to be an "X", meaning he has super hero blood, on his dad's side. On his shoulders now rest the power to influence the "X" to eventually become a V of an H (hero) in the future. But Damien wasn't ready for this kind of glitch, of having to go and prove to all his villain born friends and his super villain mom that he is a villain through and through. But is he really?

As I have mentioned, identity struggle is a usual theme in superhero fiction. But what made it different from the others I've read is that it is told in a light-hearted and humorous way, through Damien's narrative. His sarcasm and wit is half the fun, really. It did not seem fake or forced or over the top. I liked that while Damien is busy making sarcastic comments and snide remarks and "supposedly" villainous deeds, but they all seem to make him even more of a hero than a villain. It almost always shows that he loves and cares, that he's actually sensitive and sweet a midst all that cockiness. And that made him even more endearing.

Plot wise, I found the whole thumb print thing confusing. An H or a V determines who you are right? But at one point in the story, an example was shown of a Hero doing a bad deed, as pointed out by Damien himself. So technically, the thumb print H and V is irrelevant. So why is everybody including Damien getting all worked up about it? And I wasn't quite sold on the ending. I sort of wanted it to end with a bang, or a somewhat more solid resolution, or perhaps a major cliff hanger, befitting a fun super hero story. 

But, those things aside, it was a fun and wonderful adventure filled with evil plots and ploys, heroic rescues, and funny one-liners and antics.  Still, a pretty solid super hero fiction in my book.


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