Review Blog

Jul 04 2019

Rogue by A.J. Betts

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Pan Macmillan, 2019. ISBN 9781760787202.
(Age:12+) Recommended. Themes: Dystopian, Future, Global warming, Climate change, Refugees. A sequel to the award winning Hive (2017), Rogue takes up the story as Hayley leaves her home beneath the sea floating in the ocean until she lands on an island, there taken in by a family after their grandson stuns her. Recovering she listens and watches: the family does not speak outside their roughly made house, the older man and his suspicious granddaughter go off hunting, while gran stays in the kitchen. Hayley is told of the boatloads of people who try to find their island, and why they must not allow the refugees' equipment to pick up their voices and come ashore. Refugees are meant to go to Tasmania, Terrafirma, where they can be housed, not Maria Island, so they must remain vigilant, alerting the authorities if they see an incursion.
As in Hive, the story moves along rapidly, Betts giving little away hinting of the life being led and what is to come. Full of anticipation, teens will read this eagerly, noting the parallels to our current position within the world and our treatment of those who come to our shores for refuge.
Bitten by a snake, the family risk their lives to cross the water to find Buckley the healer to help her. Here Hayley finds that their blood type keeps them confined, they have opted to stay on Maria to alert authorities about the drifters, but the daughter would love to leave.
Everyone has had a DNA test and their blood type analysed, making a simple test an easy way of telling whether they are allowed into Australia, the Mainland. Drones test from above, but Hayley is undetectable. When she decides to remain on Tasmania and find her own way, she becomes the target of those who see her as a tradeable item and readers will thrill with the story at her attempts to survive alone. Meeting Jacob she goes to Davenport, there to cross to Australia, but confused with a group of drifters, she is taken up by a drone and finds Australia is not what it seems.
A marvellous survival story rich in detail of the possibilities of science used to track our every movement, of DNA and blood tests able to pinpoint every one of us, the implications of this dystopian world seem very real, a position not that far away.
Fran Knight

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