Author: Rachel Vincent
Year of Publication: 2008
Goodreads Rating (Avg.): 4.10
Goodreads Rating (Mine): 3
I’m so glad to be able to get back to reviewing, but I’m less excited that I’m going to be reviewing the rest of the Shifters series by Rachel Vincent. As I stated in my review of Stray, the first book in this series, I’m very conflicted about Shifters. And as far as the general plot goes, my thoughts on Rogue haven’t changed much from my thoughts on Stray. So in this review, I’ll focus on the differences, and will try and avoid spoilers as much as possible. Spoilers for Stray may, however, be unavoidable at times.
Mild Spoiler Warning
Plot Description: Following the events of Stray, Faythe has taken up working for her father as an enforcer – the first female enforcer in Pride memory – and she’s doing a so-so job. In the meantime, it falls to her Pride to solve a series of very strange murders. A string of stray tom cats are turning up dead on Faythe’s Pride’s territory. Also disappearing are a string of strippers who bear an uncanny resemblance to Faythe. And Faythe is also getting very strange calls from her ex boyfriend from college, who keeps promising her that she will see him very soon – and not in a fluffy, affectionate kind of way.
This is a step along her dad’s plans for her to succeed him as Alpha, which is something I respect. It gets a little annoying, however, when Faythe finds herself unable to toss around large, stray toms who are ‘half again her size’, as Vincent tends to put it. I mean, sure. Faythe holds herself up to impossible standards. But she seems ignorant of something that actually needs to be emphasized more in every context, not just in the context of this book. Consider this a Public Service Announcement:
Women aren’t always as physically strong as men are. That does not – and I repeat, DOES NOT – make them second rate in any sense. If you’re a Pride enforcer who needs to take down an unruly dude, you do not need to rely on brute strength to get the job done.
Physical strength is literally seen as a sign of excellence in Faythe’s twisted world. Now, this isn’t surprising by itself within a world populated by highly competitive males (all of whose strength seems inversely proportional to their actual intelligence levels). The truly annoying part, however, is the extent to which Faythe has internalized this belief. She truly believes that to prove herself as being as good as ‘one of the boys’, she needs to be as strong as they are, and do things exactly the same way they do.
That is not a sign of excellence. That’s sheer stupidity, because the bottom line is that you actually aren’t as strong. So you can either end up far behind all the runts of the litter simply because you’re female and they’re male, or you can use the skills you actually have to prove your real worth.
This is why Faythe kneeing a rogue stray in the groin is actually a sign of great thinking on her part. However, she promptly ruins this step forward in her character development by feeling guilty that she’d stooped to such lows. Marc’s commentary in this scene is also incredibly unhelpful. This is because he takes that all too familiar, “Ooh, my, an emotional female out to cripple us in the groin, take cover!” tone while labouring under the impression that he’s teasing her.
Faythe’s Pride – and the book in general – continues to fail to elicit sympathy from me as far as their track record in human rights are concerned. Her brother Ryan, who had been responsible for helping the villains from the first book do some pretty despicable things, has now been Caged for the foreseeable future. And while Ryan’s conduct – which included crimes like kidnapping/ abduction and abetment to rape and murder – does deserve imprisonment, this fact only serves to remind me of the time Faythe’s loving Daddy Caged her for not wanting to be a teen bride.
Faythe’s relationship with Marc is another eyesore, because it’s like watching that phase in an abusive relationship where they’re all googly eyes and sweet nothings. The abuse isn’t gone – it exists in their past and their future – but for the time being, it’s nothing but an inconvenient memory. For the couple, that is. For onlookers, friends and family, it’s freaking awful to watch.
In fact, it doesn’t take very long for the abuse to resurface – this time disguised as ‘angry sex’. This is hardly the last time this will happen in this series, and that’s no consolation. Angry sex in itself wouldn’t ever have been much of a problem – say, if both partners were angry and this was their way of working things out. But in this scene, Marc is angry, and he’s taking revenge on her in the only way he knows how, because of his whole I-never-hit-a-woman chivalry code. Marc only seems to know how to fix his problems through violence in form or another, and for Faythe, it’s not angry sex. She’s hoping to placate him, hoping to get rid of his anger in this way. Not. Healthy.
When her ex, Andrew – who she never really bothered to break up with – starts calling Faythe and sending her vaguely threatening messages, she doesn’t say anything about it to her father, or to anyone else. Faythe’s reasons for this are numerous – she doesn’t want to remind her family of the extents of her rebellion, she doesn’t want to be seen as incapable of dealing with her ex on her own, and she doesn’t want to risk making Marc jealous. It’s not healthy, but the part about Marc aside, it’s a common mistake made by young people, and serves as a plot device to help Faythe mature.
When Faythe finally figures out what Andrew is calling her about, she goes to the rest of the Pride with that information. And this is where, once again, the plot gets uncomfortable for me. Her eldest brother, Michael, who is a lawyer and gatherer of intelligence for the Pride, has just lost a close friend to one of the rogue killings. He chooses to vent his grief and rage in Faythe’s direction – by slut shaming her the minute she tells them her information about Andrew. And while her father does point out to Michael that the killings of the toms, at least, aren’t really Faythe’s fault, no one – I repeat, no one in that room, including her over protective father and boyfriend says ONE WORD to Michael about not slut shaming. Marc holds her back when she tries to attack Michael in retaliation, but not one other word.
In other news, Faythe continues to make really odd mistakes that could potentially cost lives. In the final act of the book, for instance, she realizes that the escaped stray from the first book was coming after them, and proceeds to lock all the doors and windows in the house. In this process, she somehow manages to lock the killer in the house with her. I’m honestly unsure of the point behind portraying Faythe as sometimes being so blatantly incompetent.
Rogue was only slightly less painful a read than its predecessor, and incorporated most of the bad characteristics of Stray. There is a basic amount of character development involved, but large parts of the prose continue to be unnecessary. Despite this, I went on to read to the next book in the series, Pride.