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REVIEW: Rogue by Rachel Vincent

Dear Ms. Vincent,

RogueLike Jane, I found myself disappointed by your debut, Stray. I think my expectations had been raised so high by the pre-publication buzz that there was no possible way the actual product could have met them. That’s a danger I sometimes encounter with the internet, which offers up so much information about books well before they ever hit the bookstores. But while I agree with most of Jane’s criticisms, I wanted to give your werecat series another chance. From past experience, I know it can take a couple books for an author to hit her stride and when it comes to paranormal series, often times the writer simply needs space to develop the world.

Rogue picks up where Stray left off. Faythe Saunders has returned to the suffocating environment of her werecat Pride, taking up the responsibility of being the next generation’s mother as well as beginning her training as the first female enforcer from a North American Pride. Complications arise when strays start turning up dead. When they discover there’s a connection between the dead strays and a series of murders in which the victims are strippers, the Pride’s investigation leads them onto the trail of a foreign tabby (female werecat). And matters soon take a turn for the worse when Faythe starts receiving threatening phone calls from her ex-boyfriend Andrew, who may or may not be involved.

One thing I noticed immediately about Rogue was that it was over 200 pages shorter than its predecessor. Since I felt the previous book was far too long for its content, the shorter length helped ease my initial doubts. I found the story tighter and the plotting more even, and the middle section did not drag painfully like it did in Stray.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take into account my other main criticism of the first book and it is here that I’ve hit the wall. And I simply don’t know if I can scale over it. What is this roadblock? The main character, Faythe.

I disliked Faythe in Stray and very little in Rogue convinced me to change my mind. Not only did I find her as selfish as she was in the first book, I think she actually became dumber. There were instances in the book where I honestly wondered what was wrong with her. When her ex-boyfriend starts leaving threatening voicemails, does she tell anyone? No, because that would require telling them she never completed the actual break up that would have officially made them exes in the first place. I might have been able to buy this lapse in judgment had she not gone through the events chronicled in the first book. I’d hoped she’d learned from her mistakes but it seems she’s a bit slower in that department than I’d prefer in my main characters.   (For that matter, did we ever find out what happened to her friend from college?   The one whose cell phone Andrew was calling from?   Again, another big clue that something was wrong.)

While I do understand that this series is meant to track Faythe’s evolution from an immature brat to — what I hope will be — a responsible adult but as a reader, I need something more to go on in the beginning, something that will encourage me to keep reading. I’m certain other readers can tolerate these levels of immaturity, selfishness, and stupidity in a main character, but I can’t. Faythe’s doesn’t make me want to cheer her on throughout her journey. If anything, she elicits a “Serves you right!” when she does something wrong and things blow up in her face. That’s not the sort of reading experience I typically seek out.

Even though I felt the plot was straightforward and rather predictable overall, one thing that did surprise me was how Andrew’s character was demonized. I couldn’t help but feel this was a little cliché. Much like the other men in her life, Faythe treated Andrew poorly. She left him without explanation. She never ended things with him completely. She hooked up with Marc without even a second thought about her all-human boyfriend. None of these things portray Faythe in a sympathetic light. So when we’re greeted with an Andrew that’s become a psychopath and an angry stalker, I can only draw the conclusion that this is a poor attempt to justify her shoddy treatment of him. “Look how unstable and easily manipulated he really is! Obviously he was never The One for Faythe!” I am not fooled.

Yes, I also understand that Andrew’s present circumstances were another illustration of Faythe’s reckless propensity to make mistakes endangering everyone around her. But all that does is make me sympathize with her even less. I figured out what was going to happen to Andrew at the end of Stray. That it took Faythe half of Rogue to put the pieces together did little to alter my less-than-favorable opinion of her intelligence.

I can’t speak for other readers but if a book features an unsympathetic character, I need to see some sign of that character paying for her mistakes. If all I see is that character’s bad behavior being reinforced and enabled by those around her, I have no reason to keep reading. Yes, Faythe makes mistakes. And yes, she’s had to face the consequences. But not once, in this book or the one before it, have I ever felt that those consequences were permanent, lasting, or even made a dent in that extraordinarily hard head of hers. She’s still loved. She’s still protected. And even though it looks like she’ll finally face the consequences of her actions in the next book, I still have no doubt everything will work out in the end at no loss to her.

But if I’m wrong, I hope someone will let me know. I’ve said before that my curiosity will be the death of me and if I’m honest, I have this perverse desire to know what happens next. I just don’t think I can endure more of Faythe to find out. D

My regards,

Jia

This book can be purchased in mass market or ebook format.

Jia is an avid reader who loves fantasy and young adult novels. She's also currently dipping her toes in the new adult genre but remains unconvinced by the prevalent need for traumatic pasts. Her favorite authors are Michelle West and Jacqueline Carey. YA authors whose works she's enjoyed include Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Ally Carter, and Megan Miranda. Jia's on a neverending quest for novels with diverse casts and multicultural settings. Feel free to email her with recommendations at [email protected]!

23 Comments

  1. LesleyW
    Mar 26, 2008 @ 05:35:07

    Oh dear.

    I had major problems with Faythe in the first book too. I really wanted to slap her and tell her to grow up.

    I’d hoped she would have grown up for book 2.

  2. Kelly
    Mar 26, 2008 @ 08:38:18

    I’ve actually been toying with buying this, even though I hated Faythe in the first one. But I don’t think I can put up with her through another book, even a much shorter one. Its too bad; there were things I liked about Stray, but I found Faythe’s character made me want to throw the book against the wall.

  3. Animejune
    Mar 26, 2008 @ 08:49:31

    I completely agree about sympathetic characters – that’s why I never got into the hilarity of Seinfeld – I felt the characters were selfish narcissists and couldn’t care less what happened to them.

  4. JessicaMcG
    Mar 26, 2008 @ 09:03:25

    I have to say that I enjoyed the first book. Yes, Faythe can be annoying at times…but she’s still young and figuring herself out. Plus she’s trying to deal with wanting to be normal and yet having her family put all sorts of pressure on her to conform. For the most part, I’m liking the journey (though I haven’t finished Rogue yet, so I suppose that could change).

  5. Wednesday Review Round-up « Urban Fantasy Land
    Mar 26, 2008 @ 09:16:51

    […] Dear Author reviews Rogue by Rachel Vincent. […]

  6. carolyn Jean
    Mar 26, 2008 @ 09:18:33

    I wasn’t even aware of this book. So she’s a cat? As a cat person, I would really love to read a book about werecats, and it would be important to me that the cat part of it is well done. I loved how well Kelley Armstrong created a sense of canine impulses and pleasures in Bitten and Stolen. I guess I’m kind of a dog person, too. I could probably tolerate an unsympathetic narrator for a while if the cat part was interesting.

  7. Randi Thompson
    Mar 26, 2008 @ 09:31:11

    I read Stray. It was ok. I have to ditto Jia and Jane on a couple points: the complete selfishness of Faythe, the mid-book trough, and the lack of foil to Faythe (that is, that person or persons who help illustrate to Faythe her own behaviours are destructive). With that said, I did think the tone of Stray was well done. The storytelling had good timing (even taking into consideration the slow down mid-book) and the worldbuilding, while not fully fleshed, was interesting. I’m a bit bummed that Rogue is sounding the same…but day-am, that cover art is fab!

  8. Jia
    Mar 26, 2008 @ 10:41:36

    The werecat books definitely have striking covers that do their job. On that point, I will agree.

    Carolyn Jean: I thought Stray had more “cat stuff” than Rogue, personally. I’m not 100% certain since I’m not a dog or cat expert, but I’ve read in a few informal reviews that the cat part in Stray was slightly inaccurate and the werecat society more closely resembled wolves than cats. I can’t comment either way.

  9. Allie
    Mar 26, 2008 @ 13:19:31

    I enjoyed the first book, but sad to hear about Andrew in Rogue. I thought he was a likable character in Stray.

  10. raspberry swyrl
    Mar 26, 2008 @ 13:57:13

    I read the first one and could not stand Faythe. To me she was some daddy’s little rich girl and for all her want of ‘independance’ she was still making him pay for everything. Which is sad because I did like the world building in the book. If Faythe had been different, I probably would have kept on reading the series, but she just annoys me too much.

  11. Vicky
    Mar 26, 2008 @ 15:58:02

    I had the same problems with Stray as you did. I definitely won’t be reading Rogue now even though I was a tiny bit curious.

  12. Michele Lee
    Mar 26, 2008 @ 17:12:40

    Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t have read this review. I had thought that Faythe learned her lesson in the first book, that she was being treated the way she was because of her actions, which were less than adult. I was looking forward to a little less brattitude.

  13. Sarah
    Mar 26, 2008 @ 17:30:16

    I didn’t read Stray, but jumped straight into Rogue, and I think giving it a “D” is generous at best. Not only is Faythe unlikeable, but I found ALL the characters to be obnoxious. The treatment of females was annoying, the way everyone blamed Faythe for not having somehow psychically picked up that the Rogue at the beginning was involved in something bigger, the “Gee, why don’t you want to get married right now?” conflict. One big UGH.

    Not only that, they may be more panther sized, but I’m sorry, the thought of a were-tabby just makes me giggle. ;)

  14. Mischa
    Mar 27, 2008 @ 12:50:37

    Huh, this review surprised me since I recall enjoying the book. Maybe that’s because I hadn’t heard anything about it before I picked it up. I’ll have to re-read Stray, since I don’t really remember much about it, to see if I really agree or not.

    Regarding the “cat stuff”, IMHO a were culture seems more realistic when it doesn’t mimic the real world animal culture. Not only are the weres more intelligent than their animal counterparts, they have a human side as well.

  15. Tracy Cubberly
    Mar 28, 2008 @ 00:34:26

    I love this series!!! I was in love with Stray and stayed up till 3am last night reading this book. I was not disappointed! I love Faythe and danger always seems to follow her. And I love the whole love triangle with Marc/Jace/Faythe I just can’t get enough of it!!Yes Faythe can be selfish at times, but you can see her character realizing this slowly and maybe by the next book or the 4th book she may have gotten it. But I for one and enjoying this long ride and hopefully Rachel will not stop writing them anytime soon..Keep them coming Rachel V.!!

  16. JessicaMcG
    Mar 28, 2008 @ 07:30:46

    Tracy, Nice to see another fan of Rachel Vincent. I just finished Rogue yesterday (will be posting a review this weekend on my blog:) and am still very much enjoying the world. I agree that Faythe has some growing up to do, but Vincent has time to do that since she has (I think) a six book contract.

  17. JaimeK
    Mar 30, 2008 @ 20:16:25

    Wow.. a D? Honestly no offense, that is the great thing about books and all of us who read them, we see different things, but it sounds like we read a different book. I liked the first book Stray – a lot! Rogue too…hmmm. I like Faythe, I see beyond the snotty brat, to what she will become. I had hoped to see a bit more change by the end of book 2, but I will continue to read the series. I think Rachel Vincent has something to offer dark fantasy (or urban fantasy as we are calling it these days).

  18. Jenn
    Apr 02, 2008 @ 23:33:03

    I loved stray and rogue is even better. I agree as a reader I get very aggervated with Faythe..but I also like flaw characters..I like characters that mess up..sometimes as in real life we start on a path that is taking us in the wrong direction and as such everything has to crash down around us before we realize this..I like the fact also that she is fighting so hard against her own destiny as many of us do..I also like the fact that she is so torn between her two worlds..in life you think you want one thing but after many trials you found out you had what you wanted along…I dont think the whole were society is such a big deal..yes maybe they arent like real prides in the animal kingdom but then they are human to so there will be human things that mix with it and even cancel some things out..the other characters I enjoyed to and would read and would love to see off shoots of stories concerning them…I like the fact that fayths world is spinning out of control on her and she is trying to find her own place…I like the loyalty the characters show each other…I just have really enjoyed the books so far and find myself goin crazy waiting for Pride this fall to be released

  19. Maria
    Apr 10, 2008 @ 13:18:57

    I feel sorry for you Jia!!! I understand that you didn’t like the Stray or Rogue but I think your simple, straight forward mind just cant take it all in at once. You are used to books with the same plot, same conflict and same outcomes. It is obvious that the author is attempting something new by making you feel Faythe’s struggle to change. Rachel Vincent doesn’t want the same plot for her books: the main character makes a mistake, she grows up, then lives happily ever after. The End!!! If that’s what you want in a book then I guess her books aren’t for you, they leave no suspense or room to grow.

    How OLD are you??? If you’re too old to remember what it’s like to make mistakes over and over again, while your family still loves you, then you have more problems than liking Stray or Rogue.

    Are you perfect? I know I’m not, and I’m still making daily mistakes and I am glad that I have the support that I do. Dont you have family and friends? I can easily relate to Faythe, NO! I’m not a werecat, but Rachel Vincent’s imagination has helped me to see my life a little different and grow a little more, through Faythe and the rest of the characters. I hope that before you go on and insult authors the way you did, you should consider how many books you’ve writen, how many fan-based websites you have and how many people travel across states just to meet you. Who’s gonna remember you? In 50 years Rachel Vincent’s books will be around for other generations to read, what do you do????!!!!

    Have a sweet day JIA!!!!

    Love you Rachel Vincent

    Maria

  20. Maria
    Apr 10, 2008 @ 13:23:09

    I feel sorry for you Jia!!! I understand that you didn’t like the Stray or Rogue but I think your simple, straight forward mind just cant take it all in at once. You are used to books with the same plot, same conflic and same outcomes. It is obvious that the author is athempting something new by making you feel Faythe’s struggle to change. Rachel Vincent doesn’t want the same plot for her books: the main character makes a mistake, she grows up, then lives happily ever after. The End!!! If that’s what you want in a book then I guess her books aren’t for you, they leave no suspense or room to grow. How OLD are you??? If you’re too old to remember what it’s like to make mistakes over and over again, while your family still loves you, then you have more problems than liking Stray or Rogue. Are you perfect? I know I’m not, and I’m still making daily mistakes and I am glad that I have the support that I do. Dont you have family and friends? I can easily relate to Faythe, NO! I’m not a werecat, but Rachel Vincents imagination has caused me to see my life a little different and grow a little more, through Faythe and the rest of the characters. I hope that before you go on and insult authors the way you did, you should consider how many books you’ve writen, how many fan-based websites you have and how many people travel across states just to meet you. Who’s gonna remember you? In 50 years Rachel Vincents books will be around for other generations to read, what do you do????!!!!

    Have a sweet day JIA!!!!

    Love you Rachel Vincent

    Maria

  21. Bernita
    Apr 13, 2008 @ 09:47:32

    There is no need to attack a reviewer and infer they are childish and simple-minded because their opinions differ from yours, Maria.

  22. kelly
    May 20, 2008 @ 19:09:18

    hey rachel i liked the book stray cayse even though faythe did get annoying she’s still young. i can’t help but get mad when i finished i was so curious and i didn’t have the 2nd book but hopefully reading the 2nd won’t keep me guessing. i’m still getting around t reading the 2nd one, i bet it’s really good and can’t wait.
    with all my love
    kelly

  23. Emma
    Sep 30, 2008 @ 19:55:02

    I just finished Stray. I’m not sure if I’ll read Rogue or not. I didn’t find Faythe a sympathetic character, I wasn’t fond of the triangle between her, Marc and Jace, and I found the violence off-putting. But – wow! – it kept me reading, and I think that’s doubly impressive since the book (clearly) wasn’t a good match for me.

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