Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Mira Ink
Publication Date: April 28th 2015
Source: Review Copy from Publisher/ Maximum Pop Books
Purchase: Book Depository / Waterstones
Deserter. Traitor. ROGUE. Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can't forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her—Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he'd signed his own death warrant. Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order's headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember's own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George. A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day...or start an all-out war?
Right, if you are reading this and you haven't read the first book then leave now, pick up that book and then return because I have lots of spoiler things to discuss. So you've read Talon? Fantastic, then you know how amazing it was and how much we desperately needed the sequel. Well now that its out and I've had time to read and review it, I'm sure you'll agree that this book was just as fantastic as the first book, if not better. Julie Kagawa really exerts herself in this book and it definitely shines through. The first book was more of a contemporary/fantasy mash up, whilst this one took you from one extreme to the next in terms of the action. It had so much more of a fast pacing than the first book and you can tell that Julie was really trying to get her readers to be emotionally invested in this book. So what did I think of it?
Quite frankly I really enjoyed this book and I knew instantly from the first few pages that this was going to be a book that I would steam through in a few hours. I didn't want this experience however so I purposely made myself avoid it so that I could space out the intake of epic action scenes and kick ass characters over a few days, especially as the third book 'Solider' doesn't come out until Fall 2016. That's a long time to have to wait. So I slowly digested this book and each time I picked it back up I seemed to fall for it even more than the previous chapter. It was only really towards the end that docked the star off the rating, otherwise this would have been a 5 star read! Right from the beginning of the novel we as readers are thrust into the world of what being a rogue really means. Constantly on the run and with the ever so present feeling of danger wafting through the air. This made for a really exciting and adventurous reading experience because although we get the dragon action and the kick ass subplots, we also get to experience first hand what it's like to be wanted, and the dangers that rebellion can bring with it. I adore it when books bring that element into their story because it really makes a book stand out in terms of reliability. Secretly we're all craving that little bit of danger in our lives, right? Throughout this book I could not get enough of all of the plot twists, especially the one that happens three quarters of the way through the book. If you've read it then you know what I mean. Although I did kind of see it coming, it was definitely an intense moment and it really got the adrenaline pumping in my system.
As I mentioned before this book seemed to have the perfect pace to it because you never seemed to go 20 pages or so without there being some major conflict or action for readers to absorb. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that there was action alone in this sequel, oh no! There was a great deal of character development too! Ember as a character is breaking away from her confines of Talon, venturing out into the world as a rogue. In this respect she is opening herself up to a whole new world, and Ember has to experience all of this for the first time. It's a very emotional experience for Ember, leaving everything she knows behind but you soon come to realise that she's not quite as dependent on her brother as you may think. Riley's character in this book was definitely one that changed my opinion completely. In the first book I thought he was completely overbearing and that he was crossing the line between an interest and an obsession. In this book I felt that that role was relaxed completely and that from his perspective (of which we get a lot more of in this book) we can see that he is solely focused on the well-being of his fellow hatchlings. I really enjoyed seeing this and gaining the insight that was needed for his backstory. In my mind it allowed him to be a lot more redeemable than I would have originally cast him as, and this was a very good thing. I really enjoyed the interactions between Riley and Wes because they remind me so much of an old married couple. Some of their conversations are pure gold, especially when Wes is having a go at Riley for doing something predictable or stupid, and I loved that fact. It really added a human side to Riley that I was beginning to appreciate, it wasn't all just dragon lusting.
The romance in this book however is something that in mind became debatable as the novel went along. Don't get me wrong, I love a good hearty competition but some of the romantic interactions between Ember and her love interests were just cliched and a tad melodramatic. I mean, I'm still rooting for my favourite (#TeamGember) and that ending where Garrett walked away almost killed my feelings but I just questioned a lot whether some of the interactions were overly necessary to be included. The introduction of the dreaded love triangle. Mmm. Feelings on this I do have. I enjoyed where the story is going in terms of Riley finding an emotional connection to Ember, but I really felt that the sudden statement of romantic intentions at the end of the novel kind of felt a bit unnecessary. I think the way the romantic trio has been set up so far has been great, it's not overly raw but it's also not vague enough that you can't see it. The ending however really just stamped on the book that this is a love triangle - I mean you might as well have it written in large letters in sharpie all over the pages it was that obvious. In this retrospect I felt it could have been introduced a bit more subtly - Riley admitting his feelings for Ember but then noticing her passion for Garrett and backing off because he loves her. It would have made my feelings for Riley skyrocket, but instead he had to take the dragon defensive and make himself out to be a massive douche. Hopefully this 'subtlety' will ease off in the next book, one that I am dying to get my hands on ASAP. I will sacrifice whatever animal is necessary to the dragon gods to get an early copy of that book. Even a synopsis and a cover reveal would do it for now.
Now the ending of the book once again was left on one of Julie Kagawa's notorious cliffhangers and it literally makes you itching for the next book, both for the romantic twists and that of Talon's secret plans. Literally when they unveiled that secret in the epilogue I was sitting there thinking 'Ooooh. Now it's going to kick off', making my wait for Solider just that little bit unbearable - even if it means the title suggests the book will focus on Garrett. (Can I get a hell yeah?)
So overall Rogue was a very intense and action-packed rollercoaster of a book. One that messes with your emotions and at times leaves you breathless in suspense. As I mentioned earlier, Soilder (Book 3) isn't due for release until Fall 2016, so it's going to be a long wait for us Talon Saga fans, but hopefully a few re-reads of the series so far will tie us over until then. I award Rogue by Julie Kagawa a 4 out of 5 stars on my classification scale, although it probably leans more towards a 4.5 than anything. If you've read Rogue and are willing to discuss your thoughts and feelings on the series so far, please feel free to leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter because I would be more than happy to discuss opinions with you. It's one of those books that has left me in awe of what to expect next.