I was cynical when the Marvel novels were announced, but Rogue Touch isn’t a bad read for a teen paranormal romance. I recommend removing your preconceptions going in, though, since it has little to do with the version of the character you might know.
It’s a literal take on adolescent alienation. Like any teen, Anna Marie longs to belong, to touch and be touched by others, but her condition prevents it.
The details make the book, with cogent observations about growing up poor in the South. Christine Woodward (a pseudonym for Nina de Gramont, which sounds as though it should be the other way around) does a great job making the reader feel how hard it would be to cover all your skin in a Mississippi summer or find a night job where people won’t touch you or remark on your wardrobe.
Anna Marie had previously been taken in by an aunt who thinks she’s evil. She feels obligated because the child is family, although the aunt hates Anna Marie’s parents for being rebellious. So Anna Marie has no one to turn to after she runs away, after she put her boyfriend Cody in a coma by kissing him.
She meets another weirdo at the welfare office, James (aka Touch), someone who clearly doesn’t know a lot about how the world works. The book takes an unexpected turn once James and Anna Marie go on the run together. James has his own secrets, and they drive most of the plot, turning the book into a science fiction road trip.
Unfortunately, there’s a significant lack of positive female roles in this book. Other than Anna Marie, there’s her unpleasant aunt, an exploitative boss, and an evil ex-wife. Cody’s mother, the only woman nice to Anna Marie, does swirl through her memories at times, but we don’t see enough of her to consider her more than a plot device, the ideal of what a wife and mother should be, taking care of the men in her life.
I’m not sure who’s going to most enjoy this. If you’re not already familiar with Rogue of the X-Men, you’re going to find the ending unsatisfying. If you are, the SF aspects may be off-putting, since it’s not typical for the character (nor is her behavior). Perhaps young women who enjoy genre mashup novels will find and appreciate this book. (The publisher provided a review copy.)