When I read Hive last year, I couldn’t see how there could be a sequel. Plus, I’m not a big fan of series and I enjoy a little mystery at the end of a story so I wasn’t sure if I would read Rogue. But I did and what a perfect sequel!

In Hive we learn the story of Hayley and discover she is living in a vault under the ocean. Her world has definable limits and her society’s language reflects the world in which they live and nothing more. Hayley is curious and wants to know more than just the bees she tends to. At the end of Hive, Hayley has left the world she has known since birth and floats on the oceans of a world beyond her own. This is where the story of Rogue begins.

Bees sometimes run away from the hive; they become rogue. The title of the second book is apt; Hayley was a beekeeper and now she’s a runaway. The world building in both books is phenomenal. Hayley has plenty of questions about her new world and as readers we sometimes know more than she but oftentimes we don’t. Betts has created a world built around the themes of environmentalism and social justice uncomfortably reflecting Australian politics. In the hands of Betts these themes are skilfully woven throughout the narrative without leaving the writing dry nor the reader hopeless.

While Hive was a more gentle book in terms of pacing, I found myself staying up late to read Rogue. I just had to know what would happen next; a hallmark of great storytelling.

Rogue has a terrific cast of characters with plenty of villains and the occasional kind soul. I particularly enjoyed Hayley’s relationship with Kid.

I’d like to finish with a note about the writing; it is sparse and simple and beautiful. And on that note, I’ll leave you with this quote from the book and a reminder to read Hive first:

There was only one distant light now, and it came from my left, out above the ocean. Impossibly, it was the colour of fire, contained as a ball. It rose up along a wall that didn’t burn but changed its colours, not one at a time but altogether, fusing golds, reds, pinks, yellows and blues that shifted together and spread. I sat mutely while ‘sun’ and ‘sky’ worked their bewildering magic.

From the publisher:

There was no going back; there was no choice, anymore. I’d chosen out and this was it: hot-cold, dry-wet, bright-dark and lonely.

Hayley has gone rogue. 

She’s left everything she’s ever known – her friends, her bees, her whole world – because her curiosity was too big to fit within the walls of her underwater home.

But what is this new world she’s come to? Has Hayley finally found somewhere she can belong?

Or will she have to keep running?

The thrilling conclusion to Hive from award-winning, internationally bestselling author A. J. Betts

About A. J. Betts

A. J. Betts is an Australian author, speaker, teacher and cyclist, and has a PhD on the topic of wonder, in life and in reading. She has written four novels for young adults. Her third novel, Zac & Mia, won the 2012 Text Prize, the 2014 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, and the 2014 Ethel Turner prize for young adults at the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards, was shortlisted for the 2014 Queensland Literary Award, and is available in 14 countries. It was adapted for American television by AwesomenessTV, and will soon be available globally. Her fourth novel, Hive, was shortlisted for the 2019 Indie Book Awards and 2019 ABIA Book of the Year for Older Children, and is a notable book in the Children’s Book Council of Australia awards. A. J. is originally from Queensland but has lived in Fremantle since 2004.

You can read my review of Hive here.