Summer Book Club Review: 24: Rogue

Welcome to VGBlogger’s Summer Book Club! All summer long, we will be providing weekly book reviews across a wide range of geek favorite categories, including art, comics/graphic novels, fantasy, gaming, and sci-fi. So whether you’re heading out for a road trip, going on vacation, lounging beach/poolside on a nice sunny day, relaxing inside away from the summer heat, or simply searching for a good read to fill your free time, follow our Summer Book Club for our top picks of what you should be reading during these hot summertime doldrums.

24Rogue

I absolutely love 24, but, as much as it pains me to say it, I absolutely hated Live Another Day.

I hated punk rock Chloe. I hated Kate “the show creators are trying way too hard to make me the female Jack Bauer” Morgan. I hated that they brought Audrey back just to–spoiler alert–kill her off for shock value. I hated that so many other old characters like Cheng Zhi and James Heller returned, as they just felt like lazy, formulaic retreads for a miniseries that was supposedly going to shake things up a bit. I hated Margot Al-Harazi as the villain–not to mention that whole weird, incestuous vibe going on with her daughter and boyfriend/husband/whatever he was. I hated the Adrian Cross character so much that just the sight of his face and sound of his voice made me want to turn the channel until any scene he was in was over.

Most of all, I hated that it wrecked what I thought was the perfect sendoff at the end of what was planned to be the series finale in Season 8, with Jack and Chloe sharing a deeply touching moment that was powerful because the their emotion when saying goodbye to each other was being channeled through Kiefer Sutherland and Mary Lynn Rajskub ending their 24 journey together (or so they thought). You could tell that Chloe’s tears were Mary Lynn Rajskub’s tears, not acted crocodile tears. Bringing the show back only to end it with Jack yet again being crushed by the loss of a loved one, going on another vengeful rampage, and trading himself in to be locked away and tortured for the umpteenth time just didn’t work for me. The show had run its course, and I was ready for the closure that Season 8 delivered.

Okay. Rant over. No one I know really watches 24, so I’ve been holding all that in with nobody to vent to since the show ended last year. Now that that’s off my chest, I’m ready to move on, fondly remember (and continue to re-watch) the show’s first eight seasons, and even cautiously open up to experiencing new stories in the life of Jack Bauer. Enter 24: Rogue, a new action/thriller novel from Tor/Forge and author David Mack.

The events of Rogue take place beginning at 8:00 P.M., some period of time after the close of Season 8, filling in the time gap with a story about one of Jack’s rogue missions during the four years between the original series finale and the happenings of Live Another Day. (Rogue apparently also takes place after another tie-in novel titled Deadline, which I hadn’t heard of before now. Obviously I have not read that first volume, but fortunately I didn’t get any sense that there was any direct story continuation that I was missing.)

Now a fugitive wanted by Russia and the U.S., Jack is running his own operation, working undercover in an attempt to infiltrate and dismantle the network of weapons dealer Karl Rask. Traveling aboard a gun-running freighter ship, Jack’s lone wolf op turns south in a hurry as his false identity fails to hold up to scrutiny and a band of Somali pirates hijack the ship. What at first seems like a standard pirate plunder becomes a serious threat to global security after a secret shipment Rask has onboard is stolen and a whole host of global factions–Al Qaeda, Australian Special Intelligence Service (ASIS), Russian Spetsnaz, U.S. Navy Seals, and an Australian PMC–gets involved in the chase for this precious cargo of mass destruction.

Rogue maintains the multi-perspective storytelling format of the show, each chapter spanning an hour (yes, there are twenty-four chapters), and split into different parts that jump around to what’s happening with all the different characters and factions at play. However, unlike the show, the story stays laser focused on a singular arc, without branching off and getting bogged down by some of the show’s soap opera-ish side stories, such as the absurdist, never-ending drama with Jack’s daughter, Kim, in Season 2, or the Season 6 love triangle between Chloe, Milo, and Morris. Jack does meet up and work with a new character–a female ASIS agent named Abigail Harper–and the gradual development of their partnership at least adds an extra dynamic to the main plot.

David Mack’s writing style stays faithful to the TV series, and authentically captures the Jack Bauer persona. 24 fans will appreciate the references to past events, the time cues that replicate the show’s real-time urgency, and the judicious use of Jack’s iconic phrases. For those who may be wondering, I counted three ‘Damn its,’ two ‘We’re running out of times,’ and only one ‘Son of a bitch.’ I initially planned on tallying a Jack Bauer body count, but it didn’t take long to lose track of the death toll. So forgive me for not being able to tell you exactly how many mercenaries, pirates, and terrorists he offed–just know that it was a lot. I also like how certain moments foreshadow events and character relationships to come in Live Another Day (even if I don’t particularly care for that half-season).

Even though it takes place over twenty-four hours instead of only two hours–and yes, events do occur in real time–Rogue‘s narrative scope is more comparable to the interquel style of the 24: Redemption made-for-TV movie than a fully fleshed out season, which, frankly, is all I personally look for from a tie-in novel. Some fans may lament the lack of CTU melodrama and the broader character relationships of the TV series (those elements are a big part of the 24 aura), but overall I found that Rogue nailed the show’s pacing and blend of action, espionage, and political intrigue, so much so that I literally became hooked into binge-reading through all 346 pages within a couple nights, unable to stop until I found out what happened in the next hour, and the hour after that, and then the hour after that.

24: Rogue was published by Tor/Forge and written by David Mack. It is available now at Amazon and other book retailers.

Disclosure: A copy of 24: Rogue was provided to VGBlogger.com by Tor/Forge for review purposes.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!