Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“People used to live on a planet called Earth that was so close to a star – to the sun – that the light from it could cause first-degree burns if you weren’t careful. Hard to imagine that.”
I haven’t read sci-fi for a while so this one was a very welcome change for me! Rogue is just the book for you if you often find yourself mulling over life on other planets or a life away from Earth. It had two very unique main characters with a whole host of other memorable ones and a plot to completely satisfy that inner space nerd. So happy to share my review of this one!
Canterbury is one of thousands of ships wandering interstellar space. Life on board is quiet, stable, regimented, stagnant. Siblings Kendal and Rowan bright, imaginative and adventurous.
Kendal routinely takes “shortcuts” by leaping out of airlocks. Rowan snoops through Canterbury’s restricted Archives, looking for ancient conspiracies.
In short, they’re “troublemakers”.
When one of Rowan’s wild conspiracy theories turns out to be true, the two (naturally) dive head-first into a cascade of events involving a rogue planet, an unexpected visitor, a malevolent AI, and the very reason behind Canterbury’s existence.
Suit up. Slay the monster. Save the day. At least that’s the plan.
The opening to the story gave us a very detailed look into Kendal’s futuristic life, one that couldn’t be more different from life on the planet we call our own. This is the beauty of sci-fi in my eyes – we can explore what could be in the future and think of all the possibilities of advanced technology that could potentially see the whole human race move away from this planet we’re slowly killing. I spent a while thinking these thoughts and I was grateful for the author bringing this up. I’ll admit, there were a few terms that confused me in the book to start with and made the book a little harder for me to read; the use of ‘se’, ‘ser’ and ‘serself’ for example, which I initially thought were spelling errors. I later understood that these must be the author’s chosen gender-neutral pronouns for this character. I’d never heard of these before so I wasn’t sure if they were real or fictional! Forgive me, I have a lot to learn…
The book was definitely engaging and I was looking forward to seeing how things progressed. Kendal and sibling, Rowan, live on a ship called Canterbury, just one of thousands of ships flying through the galaxy, which was mind-blowing to me! The way the author describes these characters’ surroundings is quite breathtaking and I found all this description so easy to envisage. I also really liked how the main characters’ personalities are brought to life; both seem so adventurous and fear is never an issue which gave them that ‘badass’ persona. These characters make quite the pair and it was clear their journey was going to be unforgettable. However, would their troublemaker attitude get them into trouble, or worse, put them in danger? I had no clue what these characters were about to experience, but I knew it’d be extraordinary.
It’s clear when an author is so well suited to writing sci-fi, and this book is the perfect example. Everything is so detailed and everything from space travel to sci-fi lingo was perfectly put across. The gender-neutral pronouns seemed to continue with other characters too, but thankfully, I was slowly getting used to this as I read. It seemed to be the norm in the book which was fine by me. Kendal soon seems to be smitten with another character, Peyton, and I was looking forward to seeing how this relationship would progress. The biggest event in the beginning of the book which grabbed me was a mysterious object, which the Canterbury ship was heading straight for! Would the two collide causing serious damage to the ship and those inside? The story quickly picked up pace at this point, sending my mind into overdrive thinking of all the possibilities.
“It was doing just fine, then just froze. It’s not responding at all. And, before you ask, yes, I tried turning it off and back on again.”
The characters get the opportunity to begin gender reassignment sessions when they reach the age of eighteen, which I found fascinating. People born in this place are automatically gender-neutral, which, when they become eighteen, they have the option to change should they want to. This worked really well and the author has done a great job of creating this ‘new norm’ in the book. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever come across before! The case of the mysterious object is revisited too, and with the size of this thing, it may come in useful to build so many more ships; it wasn’t an asteroid, it was a rogue planet. Just the sound of it made it seem so cool! Again, I found myself daydreaming, imagining the sheer size of this thing and what it could potentially mean for everyone’s future. The story was getting exciting, there was no doubt about that!
With plans to investigate this rogue planet, the team had to be very careful and prepare for what lay ahead. With no clue what or even who was on this planet, anything was possible! With the council opting for colonisation for this planet, this sparks panic for Kendal (and myself!) How did they know this planet was habitable? I had the awful feeling that something bad was going to happen and I couldn’t shake it. The author has built up suspense and intrigue well, making you want to read for hours on end. I felt the plot of the story was unraveling at a great pace and I just knew other readers would be just as curious as myself about what was about to happen. What would they find on this planet? Would there be signs of life?! Would it be a positive encounter or a threat?
Rowan’s conspiracy theories were particularly captivating for me and as these theories were explained to the team, I found myself hanging onto every word. It wasn’t just the main story of this rogue planet and what was on it that had me interested either – the author has filled the book with other scenes and discussions between characters which quite frankly, made me want to jump on a space ship myself! The complex vocabulary, in-depth dialogue and intense problem solving between characters really built up a solid story in my eyes. Rowan’s help is needed to encourage the team to think outside the box where this new planet is concerned, and just somehow, I felt this character would know exactly what to do. The character creation in this book has been consistently top notch so far, and Rowan was my favourite character yet!
Communicating with this planet was so exciting for both myself and the characters involved and I felt it was only a matter of time before we gained some answers about this thing. Thankfully, I was right! With security being compromised, characters have an even bigger job on their hands, and a grotesque creature makes an appearance. What was this thing? Was it friendly or potentially life threatening? The way the author switches point of view throughout these scenes was great and gives the reader more to process, putting us inside the minds of characters we didn’t expect. The author hasn’t left a detail uncovered as we delve deeper into this problem and I couldn’t fault how any of it played out. It was gripping, suspenseful and the words were so easy to get lost in. Give me more!
“All it took was one. One fist-sized rock, slicing across at an oblique angle, penetrated the generator ring’s hull, punching a hole through power node C312, setting off a cascade that would eventually destroy Edmonton and all on board.”
Abby was a great character and appears to be from a ‘distant cousin’ of Canterbury. I liked how matter-of-fact this character is and I also loved how she gives the crew and us readers some clarity. This character is so likeable, and even Kendal and Rowan try to help her in any way they can, even going as far as buying her some more time. The story gets complex here and I loved how these characters worked together to problem solve and to do what is right. Kendal soon prepares for the trip of a lifetime and I thought I was just as apprehensive yet excited as this character. With no idea just how dangerous the trip could be, who knows what the outcome would be? I was looking forward to getting to the end of the book and seeing exactly what Kendal uncovers. Would this character ever return?
The ending of the book gives us even more information about Canterbury and its deepest, darkest secrets which was a great twist to the story. In fact, there was something all these ships had in common which was really unexpected, but worked so well in the story. It’s something the reader would struggle to predict from everything we’ve read, but is also the perfect explanation! I loved how Kendal and Rowan worked this out and this particular conversation between these characters had me on the edge of my seat. The thought of what was uncovered was rather unnerving; with the next move uncertain, I felt they had to tread carefully to try not to get on the ships bad side…
The characters really step up when they need to, showing immense confidence, courage and bravery to save lives and get to the core of every problem. I enjoyed each back and forth conversation, especially with Sentinel, and we learn of so much that creates such a solid story. Everything fits together so well, and in some ways, I was completely shocked this was the author’s first novel! I soon became worried about Abby and the time she has left – would she be around long enough to see her granddaughter again? How would Rowan react after she’d gone after building up such a trusting relationship with this character? We still had questions in need of answers, and I was confident the author would deliver.
With plans to take over the ship, characters must do what they can to make things run as smoothly as possible. I felt like I was on the edge of my seat as these scenes played out, desperate for their plans to be a success and wondering if all the characters would stay safe in the process. Stopping an illegal AI definitely made for some good reading! The plot continued to be consistently exciting which I was hoping for, and each character did their bit to make it such a memorable reading experience. With so much left to uncover before the end of the book and so little pages left to go, I was intrigued by how the author would end that final chapter. Would it be the ending we’d hoped for?
“Why was Argo built? Why was it sent on a colonization mission doomed to fail?”
The author has rounded this book off in such a fantastic way which really put a smile on my face. It was just as great as I’d hoped it would be! Even though not everything went to plan as it should have along the way, characters worked together and created a life that I never expected. The ending of the book is one of those that makes you think long after you finish about the endless possibilities, which I find particularly common in sci-fi novels. I found the ending to be very satisfying and it only increased my need to read more from this author. A great first full-sized novel from this author with so much to offer for so many reasons. I’d happily recommend this one!
If you’re looking for an addictive sci-fi novel that forces you to think of the endless possibilities of space and artificial intelligence, then this is the perfect book for you! This was such a great read with strong characters, unexpected twists and a detailed plot which provides food for thought. I’d highly recommend this for fans of sci-fi. Also, if you’re new to the genre, this is the perfect shorter story to get you started!
A huge thanks once again to the author of this book, Steve DeGroof, for my copy to read and review! You can purchase your own copy of Rogue on Amazon, available on Kindle. Make sure you’re following the author over on Twitter for more updates.