Firstly I want to say a huge thank you to MacMillan Australia and Aus YA Bloggers, for not only sending me an advanced reader copy of this book, but for also sending me a finished copy of the first book, Hive. I so, so appreciate being able to read and review books, help to build the hype and spread the word, so thank you so much for sending me copies!
I am excited to be on the blog tour for this book, I love the idea of fellow book blogggers, reading the same book then reading our different opinions and ideas. It is such a fun experience and I am so greatful to be given the chance to participate!
A little re-cap, if you didn’t read my review post of Hive, which can be found HERE. At the end of Hive, I was left with a million questions, ones that I assumed would be answered in this book, so here I am, holding onto hope that they will be answered. I enjoyed the writing style of Hive and am looking forward to diving back into that world!
Before I get into my review, as most of you know, my review style is slightly different, treat it as a reading diary, with some technical terms thrown in, therefore, there may be some spoilers. If you haven’t read Rogue yet, I highly advise popping to my GoodReads HERE and reading the spoiler-free review.
Rogue by A. J. Betts
Published June 25th 2019 by Pan Australia
This bloggers star rating: 3/5
Okay, so we start where Hive left off, which is promising, no time lost to fill with back-story, which I like. Although I feel like we have been walking around in the wilderness for too long, twenty pages of wilderness walking and nothing happening other than our protagonist having epiphanies about what things are called and hallucinating her not-quite-boyfriend…
Woah, people! Well person. A weird, little camouflaged boy. Wait. Why is he telling her to shoosh? Okay, now I’m worried, why is he so concerned about staying quiet?
Well… I am close to one-hundred pages in, and a whole lot of nothing has happened. Yes, Hayley has found a family, yes they are slowly teaching her the way of the world and where she is, but nothing has happened and I am starting to get a little disillusioned with this book.
Oh, that makes sense, the whole having to be quiet thing. Pretty creepy though, to think that there are people out there, waiting to intercept a human voice, just so they can set sail towards it, to make their new home, seeking asylum.
In a way, this book is incredibly relevant, it is taking current issues, such as asylum seeking and climate change and putting them into a context that teenage (and people who refuse to grow up) will read and understand. Putting them in the forefront of their mind. A great idea.
And bam! Hello Tasmania! I am so excited to see little ole Tassie in a book! I love how Betts has taken pre-existing parts of the world and made them into her own. World building to the max. I also love how there are care takers for the whole of Maria Island, I would love that gig! Although I am fangirling over the location of this book, being a native Tasmanian and all that, I am still waiting for something to happen, I am 125 pages in, and all I have found out is that a hippie man in Tassie stores anti-venom for snake bites, that the Vault Hayley grew up in, was meant to be a week-long retreat for Tasmania’s elite who were hiding from an asteroid and that blood and DNA are what identifies your past and present, that it limits you to where you can live, what job you can have and where you can travel to. So, in essence, things have very barely started to pick up. In all honesty, it is only the location and the originality of this book that is keeping me going. I am desperately hoping for something more, plot wise, very soon.
How convenient, just as Hayley starts to make some friends and is getting along with Petra, something happens to cancel out, all of that normal-ness. I knew Buckley was an interesting sort, but I didn’t think he would resort to caging Pop, and hunting for the girls. I will say, super quick thinking on Hayley’s part, to save the family she loves, but I can’t help but thinking how Petra will feel betrayed, and poor Kid, he is expecting her to come home…
I do enjoy the dogs! I realise that they are a cross-breed amalgamation of breeds and computers, but how cool are they? Smelling your DNA and your crimes through your blood! Yes, I see that there is some element of no-privacy and it is a tad creepy, but also, so cool! Adding to the mystery, is how Hayley controls the dogs. We know she isn’t law, but they listen to her anyway, when they are meant to be computer generated, to follow orders given remotely. But the dog part of their brains listens to her as though she has trained them from birth. Why? I need to know more, is it because her dot on the map is coloured blue? She isn’t a drifter, legal or the law? I am intrigued.
I am still loving the location of this book, it is giving me serious bush-walking vibes, making me want to go out and play in my backyard, type vibes. I love that, all of the towns that Betts mentions, I have been to, I can see if I jump in the car and drive for a few hours North or South. I love that Tassie is finally on someone’s Radar! I am 200 pages in, and hoping for some major information about the Vault, about Hayley’s blue dot and more about the DNA system in Terrafirma (Tasmania).
Okay, so the rest of the book felt much like the beginning of the book. I really feel as though not much happened at all, yet we see Haley travelling all over Terrafirma and the Mainland, searching for answers and for Will. It is a strange feeling, feeling that nothing is happening, yet the protagonist is actively traveling. I think I mean, plot wise, nothing really happened until the last two chapters, we just followed Hayley around.
We don’t ever really get any sense of why the DNA system is made or how or how it is moderated. We don’t learn more about the Vault, other than it was a seed bank, never meant to be used for more than a week to survive an asteroid. But w do learn, that the Son or Daughter of the Judge, has been coming up to Terrafirma for years, collecting what the people in the vault need to continue surviving.
Part of me wants another book, in the hopes that there will be more answers, because, just like at the end of Hive, I am left with so many unanswered questions.
I can appreciate Hayley as a character though, her growth is incredible. We see her go from a timid and shy bee -keeper, to a brave, courageous and strong young woman, who fights for what she believes is right. She is such a strong character and one I can see younger teen readers looking up to. I also love how, even though Hayley was so drawn to Will, to get him back at all costs, there wasn’t really a ‘love’ story, they weren’t what you would call typical love interests. It is so rare for a YA book not to have a love triangle, angle in the middle of the action, so I am grateful for that.
To recap a few things that I loved about the book, I loved that it was set in Tasmania and around the coastline and surrounding islands, that for me, added so much to the book, I felt as though I could go to these places and really feel the story taking place. I enjoyed the way that extinct animals were brought back to life, they added such grit to the story overall. I enjoyed the writing style, it flowed freely and lead the reader into the next scene smoothely. The pacing was also perfect, slow for the most part, but it needed to be, for the reader to take in all of the scenery and information that was being thrown at you.
If you are a native of Tasmania, I highly reccommend that you read both Hive and Rogue, it is such a trip! Even though I found this book to lack some information and the walking…. so much walking, it was enjoyable. It felt like going on an adventure. Definitely worth the read!
Thanks for reading!