‘Rogue’ by Elle Kennedy: A darker tale about a bad boy and a ‘good girl’ gone authentic

This Rogue book review takes a look at the second book in Elle Kennedy’s Prep series. We push forward into Casey and Fenn’s relationship, but also dive deep into the mystery of that fateful prom night, unearthing some secrets many, many people at Sandover would like to keep buried.

After Misfit, I was so grateful I didn’t have to wait long for Rogue to land in my hands. I really enjoy spending time with (most of) these characters, and I don’t know what I’m going to do while we wait for an announcement about the next book. But, until then, I have a Rogue book review to deliver, so here are my most eloquent thoughts… yeah, right. Here is a jumbled mess of opinions as I try to keep myself sane waiting for the next installment of this saga.

Starting off, this book provides us with points of view from five different characters, and a few of them change from Misfit. We hear far less from R.J. and Sloane, and get tons of time in Fenn and Casey’s heads. This makes total sense, because R.J. and Sloane are an established, happy couple, and Rogue is mostly the story of Casey and Fenn’s relationship rollercoaster.

And a rollercoaster it is, but a fair one for a story about high school kids who have gone through half the things the main characters of the Prep series have endured. While I enjoyed the bond that Fenn and Casey forged through their friendship, the story of their trip from friends to, basically, enemies to lovers is a long and complicated one.

I may have had some issues with why people reacted so harshly toward Finn after this book’s first big reveal. I mean, I understand Casey’s hesitancy toward him, but others’ open hostility left me scratching my head. But other than that, watching Fenn and Casey’s bond get tested time and time again by their own actions and the world around them is gut-wrenchingly compelling. I felt for both of them through different parts of this sequel, but am ultimately glad they were able to see through the murky fog of the present to find their clear, sunny day.

Fenn has a twisted way of looking at his relationship with his father, who is not up for any father-of-the-year awards, but who doesn’t seem to be openly terrible. He is cynical of anything his father does, and shows little respect for his dad or the women he surrounds himself with. When his father’s newest wife comes with a built-in brother, Fenn seems to actually give R.J. a chance, which provides Fenn with at least one person in his life with whom he can have a genuinely healthy relationship. Yes, there are some bumps in the road courtesy of the events of Misfit, but they navigate those and come out the other side. Fenn and R.J.’s relationship is one of my favorite parts of the Prep series so far. I love that even though both have their doubts about their parents, and neither is particularly trusting, they both have found true kinship in each other. I hope that as the Prep series goes forward into (hopefully happy) romantic relationships for other characters, we don’t lose touch with this great friendship/brotherhood. I hope I get to write more about these in my future Prep series reviews, especially after getting up in my feelings about their closeness in this Rogue book review.

Rogue book review

When it comes to Casey, the most intriguing part of her story was watching her teach the people around her to stop associating her with purity. Everyone’s first descriptor for her would be sweet, kind, or nice, and they all seemed to think that meant she needed to be sheltered, that she couldn’t be allowed to make mistakes, that she couldn’t live her life boldly like her sister, Sloane. Watching Casey navigate a road from innocent to authentic was mesmerizing. I loved seeing her take control of her own life, seeing her demand that her loved ones and friends see her as the whole person she is, instead of the version they all had on a pedestal for her to live up to. I wish more books took the time to examine the “good girl” personality-type. It’s one specific aspect of fiction that has gone unchecked for too long. I should have known Elle Kennedy would be the one to break the glass encasing all those “good girls.”

In addition to the complicated love story that is Casey and Fenn’s chapters of Rogue, we also get chapters from Lawson and Silas’ POVs. I have to say, these characters took sharp turns for me in this story. Misfit really endeared them to me, as Silas seemed like a more cautious version of R.J., and Lawson was the lovable chaos-agent who uses sex and drugs to hide his honest emotional wounds. I was fond of both of them for all sorts of reasons, but we didn’t know them supremely well, so getting more of them in Rogue left me feeling closer and more emotionally involved in one of their stories… and estranged me almost entirely from the other.

It’s interesting to me that Lawson is the one who gets my sympathies and affection, especially given his behavior and actions throughout Rogue. He doesn’t always do the right thing, and he never thinks about how his actions are going to affect anyone else, but he is still more likable than the other original member of the friend group, who I’d almost like to not have to even name.

I don’t think I can remember a fictional character that has inspired such a 180-degree flip from me before. Silas was one of the characters I was most intrigued to see more of in Rogue after finishing Misfit, but after reading its sequel (and writing this Rogue book review) I really have no interest in figuring out what has made Silas the man he is. Rather than being the best behaved friend, he turned into a terse, disgruntled asshole. I don’t know what Elle’s plan is for the strong, silent jerkface, but if she plans to redeem him, it’s going to be the hardest and longest road a fictional character will ever have to traverse—at least for me.

But yeah, ultimately, I’m dying to know what the end of Rogue means, where the next book is going to pick up, and who could possibly take on a fixer-upper like Lawson, if he’s even the central character in the next new adult tale. I am beyond excited to meet this person, but I can’t imagine who they are and what qualities they possess that will make them his perfect match. If he’s even the next character on the block for a happy-for-now ending. And if it’s Silas’ turn for redemption, I will be shocked to see how Elle manages to turn my opinion about him after his behavior in Rogue. I will only believe it’s possible once I’ve read it.

‘Rogue’ hit bookstore shelves March 7, 2023

Buy Rogue by Elle Kennedy on Bookshop.org, Sourcebooks, or Amazon. You can also add it to your Goodreads list.

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