Rogue Touch (Hyperion/Marvel) Book Review

Hyperion Books has launched a series of novels focusing on Marvel superheroines in solo adventures. The first, Rogue Touch, is out this week!

Marvel is used to branching out into other mediums. It’s no surprise that in addition to comics, graphic novels, films, animated series, and toys, they’d go to the less-visual medium of the novel. They’ve had novels featuring their characters before, but now Marvel’s doing something a little different. Teamed up with prolific publisher Hyperion, they released two original Young Adult novels this week: Rogue Touch and the She-Hulk Diaries. This review will be looking at the former.Rogue Touch is definitely a YA book aimed at teenage girls and older, and may not appeal to everyone. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I’m not sure there’s enough action in these pages to hold the comic readers’ attention, and this kind of romance-sprinkled YA isn’t my usual fare.Author Christine Woodward (pseudonym of Nina de Gramont), was chosen for the project. Her previous novels include Gossip of the Starlings, and the teen book Every Little Thing in the World. Her magazine work spans from Redbook to Seventeen, so she knows how to write for this audience. Her grasp of the speech patterns of a Mississippi girl is quite good, as evidenced in the first person writing of Rogue Touch, probably due in part to her living in the South herself.Rogue Touch is a sort-of origin story following Rogue, aka Anna Marie, not too long after she’s discovered her deadly powers. We are introduced to her at her job in a bakery just as she’s being fired. It’s not the first time either. Her appearance—white streaked hair plus long sleeve shirt, leather pants, and gloves in the hot southern summertime—makes her look a little frightening. After her unfortunate firing, she’s soon waiting in line for food stamps.She was never meant for this life. A straight-A student, she would have never expected to be living on food stamps and measly jobs. When she accidentally puts her boyfriend Cody into a coma and discovered her touch was deadly, she had to run away.Part of what I like about Rogue Touch is how Anna Marie deals with poverty. She’s living on food stamps in a crappy apartment with no support system. Sometimes she steals to get by, but there are moments when she feels for those people. It’s survival, but she has a conscience. Her first person narration is probably the strongest point of this novel, and we sympathize with her problems.A big portion of this novel, most of it, is taken up with her burgeoning romance with the mysterious James. He’s a suave stranger with otherworldly mannerisms that makes Anna curious. They end up on the run together when Anna accidentally puts her boss into a coma, and soon it’s clear James is being chased as well. He’s secretive about why. That doesn’t seem to matter though, as Anna shows more interest in James, and honestly would have jumped his bones if she wouldn’t put him into a coma by doing so.Her emotions towards James are somewhat believable for a girl who hasn’t been able to have skin contact with anyone in quite a while, but her pining after James right in the beginning is a little wearing. For several pages, she keeps thinking about how blue his eyes are. Finally she mentions something about him seeming kind, and the pining gets a little less repetitious. There’s a scene where James and Anna stop at a barbeque place somewhere in West Virginia. James doesn’t realize he shouldn’t be showing the hundreds of dollars he stole to some down-on-their-luck locals. Anna predicts right away that they’ll be jumped and sure enough, there’s several wife-beater clad farmers swinging baseball bats at them. James doesn’t react, and Anna saves them both.I’m glad for this, but what worked with this scene is immediately negated by James apologizing, “This is the last time you’ll be the one protecting me.” I’m annoyed by this because it’s the kind of BS Twilight instilled in modern YA books. The boyfriend (which James is becoming at this point) does not need to save the girl. For one, this is Rogue’s book, not his. She needs to be the central actor in her adventures. A main character in a story who doesn’t fight her own battles is a poor character indeed. Luckily she’s not in the kitchen making him sandwiches so to speak, but it’s clear that most of the decisions are made by James and he’s directing their path of their journey.Anna does prove herself. She helps James with everyday things he doesn’t understand. She’s quite sure he’s an alien, and he tells her his real name translates to Touch (which is more than a little ironic), but she admits she’s seen enough weird stuff that she believes it. She doesn’t judge. She’s surprised halfway through the book when all his half-answers lead to the real truth: he’s from the future. There’s yet another twist about her love interest to slap her upside the head by the end of the book, but hey, I gotta keep some spoilers back.X-Men fans, don’t expect Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters here. Contrary to some rumors, there’s no mention of Wolverine, and Anna Marie is the only mutant in the book, as all her stranger foes are from the future and have special technology instead of powers. I’m glad this novel didn’t go the predictable route and show Rogue going into the school. Instead, it’s more of a road trip adventure.The action scenes are fun and are handled well, as the couple get attacked by future thugs, police, and Touch’s bitchy wife Alabaster who sicks monstrous “wildebears” on Anna.The technology was neat in this book too. Touch brought some gizmos from the future like his translator, a device he uses to steal money from ATMs and his time travel disc. I appreciated that the scenes that occurred in the future weren’t all glossy and spacey. The tech was advanced, but it wasn’t all space ships and lasers and HAL 9000. During this future romp, Rogue gains her special green jumpsuit (comics reference!) that allows her to survive the temperatures of the Earth 10,000 years from now and cover her dangerous skin.The story itself is handled alright…but the main part of the novel, her relationship with Touch, is kind of forced and touches on (get it?) the kind of themes I don’t like in YA novels. I don’t like to see the main character suddenly become obsessed with some strange guy. But sure, there was some sweetness in their relationship later on. Romance fans would dig it.Rogue Touch is an enjoyable read, but not amazing. I got some character development on Rogue, but sometimes didn’t feel she was the star. The romance that should have been a side-plot took front and center. Maybe my opinions on this book being “okay” and not “great” is because other superhero novels I’ve read focus more on action.The good news for Marvel/Hyperion is this is an easily consumable book. I know friends of mine who aren’t into superheroes that would enjoy it more than I could. In fact, I dare say this book is meant less for comics fans and more to get traditional YA readers to branch into the superhero genre.Den of Geek Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars.Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all news updates related to the world of geek. And Google+, if that’s your thing!


3 out of 5