By Amber Lena
Rogue Touch is an alternate origin story, filling in the gap between when a scared Anna Marie runs away from home and ending, presumably, not long before she encounters Mystique in Marvel's X-Men comics. Told entirely in the first person, it’s a look at Anna Marie’s internal monologue as she comes to terms with the burden of her ability as she truly falls in love for the first time. To all you diehard Rogue/Gambit fans out there, beware: tether your ship to the dock or risk not enjoying what is a very romance-heavy novel.
Much like The She-Hulk Diaries, Rogue Touch is more of a romance with light action than anything else. It all begins when Rogue, still going by Anna Marie, unwittingly harms yet another person with her powers. Forced to go on the run from the law, a stranger who has been hanging around town shows up at her apartment and whisks her away, seemingly on the run himself. It is soon revealed that James, also known as Touch, is keeping just as many secrets as Anna Marie and soon they’re being hunted by both the police and otherworldly forces.
The novel has several characteristics of a paranormal romance. It has the same “girl next door trying to deal with extreme changes in her life who then encounters a mysterious stranger” beginning that we’ve all seen before. Luckily, Christine Woodward proves to be a mite more talented than most teenage paranormal romance writers. The novel has pretty good character development and a few twists at the end to keep it interesting, though the twists aren’t terribly surprising.
Though this expose of Rogue’s heart makes for a good read, it is rather slow at times. The action scenes become predictable, though somewhat more exciting as more of Rogue’s abilities develop. While the narrative is told from Rogue’s point-of-view, the vast majority of the conflict is centered on Touch, where he comes from, and the impossibility of their romance. This has the effect of sometimes sidelining Rogue, despite the story being told by her. However, the narrative does a good job about showing Rogue’s inner turmoil over the life she leads and the necessity of sometimes hurting others in order to survive.
While there are several points at which Touch must save Rogue, she does a good job of saving herself—and him—as well. There is a pretty healthy balance struck that helps dodge the “damsel-in-distress” trope, which somewhat makes up for the predictability of the “lovesick teenage girl” aspect of the story. Though the heavy romance aspect of the novel detracts from the feminist aspects of it, Rogue comes out at the end as a strong female figure.
Ultimately, those looking for a Marvel tale may not be impressed with Rogue Touch. The story exists far outside of the Marvel Universe, with Rogue being the only mutant that directly appears in the story. This book is more suited towards teenage girls who enjoy reading paranormal romance novels than die-hard X-Men fans.
Rogue Touch is available now from Hyperion Books.