I am a deserter to my kind.
A traitor to my kind.
A rogue to my kind.
I left the organization Talon.
Became a rogue.
To take my chances with freedom.
Talon is hunting me down.
The Order of St. George is hunting me down.
But I will survive.
My name is Ember Hill.
Whoo hoo! Finally, I'm living as Ember again!
Author: Julie Kagawa
Standing: Book 2
Setting: Las Vegas, California (modern day)
POV: first person by Ember, and bits of Riley, Garret, and Dante, past tense
Genre: YA fantasy
Reading: first time
Favorite part: no such thing. I loved the entire thing!
Rating: 5 Stars
First off, the cover is touchable. I'm not joking. I spent a few minutes stroking the cover, because it literally feels like scales. I also may have had the same issue with the cover of Talon, as it was touchable too. These physical covers are amazing. No, I'm not weird.
If you haven't guessed yet, Julie Kagawa is probably my all-time favorite author. I'm not kidding. Her works have reduced me to tears and various other blobs of non-functioning emotions. Okay, that just sounds weird.
Where to start? I suppose the logical answer would be with Ember. Life as a rogue has changed her, constantly on the run and being in danger. In this book, Ember must come to terms about the new life of being a rogue, as well as the idea of having to kill someone for survival. Not exactly light stuff. But she's able to charge right through, getting what needs to be done, done. Not once does she look back or back out. Her stubbornness is one of her greatest strengths.
Garret. That boy. I'm sad we didn't get to see as much of his POV as we did in Talon, but I'm still happy that he was there. Nicknamed the "Perfect Solider," he definitely is big help for Ember and Riley. He knows how St. George operates, and thus knows how to avoid them or get out of a sticky situation. It was a bit irritating for me at the beginning when Riley simply refused to see that Garret was a benefit to their cause.
Rogue focused a bit more on Riley/Cobalt than anything, exploring his past and how he operates his underground rogue network today. It really let readers get into Riley's head, to see how he operated. It's easier to emphasize with Riley, to see where's he's coming from. He really does have other hatchlings' best interests at heart. Which is fine, because it gives readers a chance to tear themselves apart over who's better, Garret or Riley.
"A love triangle?" someone groans. "Really?"
Not exactly. Okay, yes, maybe. But that's not the driving force here. We don't really get any huge, mind-blowing, sappy declarations of love from both sides, which all result in a big brawl between the male characters. Ember is more than capable of taking care of herself, and doesn't exactly need an overprotective boyfriend hounding her. So as great as having a love triangle is, it's not really what it's all about. If everyone would just get along and fight together, everything would be fine.
But apart from that, Rogue was everything I expected to be and more. Dragon fights, prison breaks, betrayals, traps, secrets, and questions. Oh yes, the questions. Questions the characters asks, and questions that we, the reader asks. That's what makes a good story: the implication of the reader. (Wow, I sound like an English student, don't I? But it's true!)
So my question to you all is this: would you rather be a shapeshifting dragon, or a dragon slayer? And would you ever break free of the organization you're working for?
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?
And the rest is spoilery, so read under the cut.
Okay okay okay. Let's begin with Dante. I'm not sure whether I hate him or admire his loyalty, but either way, I want to throttle him. You idiot! And that ending? Dante sees that there are literally test-tube dragons, like clones. And he freaking smiles. Hello, psychopath. That is not a good thing. I mean, Talon has been growing an entire army, and chances are that these dragons are emotionless machines, programmed to kill. And who do we suspect will be controlling them one day? Dante. I'm not sure about you guys, but my Bad Guy Alert sensors are blaring in my head.
But that being said, there is one thing I noticed... Faith explained to Ember that her mission was to bring her in, and if that failed, to kill Ember. But Dante doesn't know about that. He gave Faith orders to bring Ember in at whatever cost, alive. But as Faith's real orders were to kill Ember, it means that Dante was intentionally left out of the loop. Meaning, on the off chance Dante realizes that Talon meant to kill Ember rather than simply bring her in like he thought, Dante might jump ship and join Ember.
Someone tell me I'm not the only one who thinks this. Please. Because I really don't want to see Ember and Dante pitted against each other in the final book, because we all know that if that's the case, Dante will ultimately lose. And maybe die. And that will be devastating for both Ember, and for us readers.
Okay, now for Ember and Garret. They together are cute, cute, and cute. Although I'm sad that they didn't have as many moments together. They are clearly going to get together, and I want to throttle Ember a bit. Garret declared his love for her, and she just...swept it aside. Okay, no. She did the honest thing, the right thing, and told him that she was confused by both him and Riley. I totally support this decision; she's not forcing herself to be with him. She's being honest with him, with herself, and that is a sign of strength. Just...Garret. He leaves, not because of jealousy, but to go investigate some stuff and help the cause. Meaning he's leaving Ember with Riley. And there will be even fewer Ember-Garret moments in the next book. Sigh.
So...does anyone have any theories on Mist? Like, Mist and Dante? No? Did any one take note of the fact that Cobalt met Madison twelve years ago, and that technically, she would be sort of grown up now, and maybe recognize Riley if they ever stumbled into each other? I'm probably overthinking the part about Madison, but I'm just pointing it all out. Also, any one notice the abundance of "bloody" that Wes used? I mean, it didn't bother me, but I couldn't help but take notice of it.
Garret's suspicions that maybe St. George and Talon might be working together at the warehouse actually brings up a whole bunch of questions. Are they actually? And if so, that means that they're teaming up to either a) stop Cobalt or b) find Ember. If b) then what exactly is so special about Ember? Already, we're given hints about Dante and Ember being special to Talon. By this point, I'm not convinced that they're special simply because they're rare siblings. There's definitely more to this, to them. Are they offsprings of the Elder Wyrm? Test-tube dragons, engineered specifically to be the best at everything, and to bring Talon to greatness? Questions, questions, questions!
I want to take a small moment here to compare Ember to Allison Sekemoto, who is the protagonist of Julie Kagawa's The Immoral Rules series. What struck me hilarious was the differences between them. Survival is a big theme in both books, especially killing others as means to live another day alive (or free). In Rogue, we have Ember, and she tells us that after her first kill, her hands can't stop shaking, and that when she closes her eyes, she sees the sniper she killed. The gun becomes a weapon to be wary of, because it possesses the capability to end a life. In comparison to Allie, Ember seems a little like a joke. Allie has absolutely no qualms about killing others to survive. Both are contrasted so differently, especially with the different tones of the book: one being dark and gritty, the other being lighter and more espionage-like. Hat tip to Julie Kagawa for bringing out different types of characters, and letting us explore the different mindsets they have in reaction to surviving.
Now all I need to do is sit here in quiet agony as I wait for the next book, titled Solider, to come out...