Rogue: Untouched is the second book in Marvel and Aconyte Books’ Marvel Heroines line; a collection of novels focusing on female characters. Written by Alisa Kwitney (Cadaver & Queen), Rogue: Untouched follows the titular character in an alternate version of her origin story. The usual players are all there and many of the events are the same but Untouched has a definite romantic side to it, what with Gambit being a part of the story from almost the very beginning, a departure from the fact that he first appeared nine years after Rogue was introduced in the comics. That romantic side is at times a detriment as, like other characters in the novel, Rogue ends up feeling sidelined in her own origin story.
May 4, 2021
Note: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
At times, the book feels like one of many young adult fantasy novels where the main character is a young woman who is kidnapped by some sort of bad guy and is forced to adapt and escape. Oh and also the love interest is a bad boy who secretly has a heart of gold. Which is fine. I’m sure that some of those books are great. It just makes this one feel very same-y with the only real difference being the fact that this time the main character is Rogue from X-Men.
Despite that, Kwitney very obviously has experience writing romantic novels. You can tell that Rogue and Gambit’s more romantic scenes are written by someone who knows what they’re doing and that’s to the book’s benefit. On the other hand, something that very much isn’t to the book’s benefit is the character of Darnique. In Rogue: Untouched, Darnique is introduced as Rogue’s best friend and co-worker. About 85 pages after her introduction, she promptly disappears after helping Rogue with her hair, only mentioned once or twice as Rogue monologues while in captivity. Each time she appears or is mentioned, she is taking on a supportive role when she isn’t even physically present in the scene. Darnique exists only to support Rogue and say a few funny lines along the way. The Black best friend has been a trope of rom-coms and rom-com adjacent media for a long time. Clueless has Dion Davenport, 10 Things I Hate About You has Chastity, and High School Musical has both Chad Danforth and Taylor McKessie. All of these characters have two things in common, they’re Black and they serve as the nice side character who supports the main character, often at the detriment of their own place in the story.
If that hasn’t turned you off of reading it, Untouched is at the very least quick read, clocking in at just over 350 pages, and the pacing is solid. There wasn’t one moment where I felt like I was suffering while reading this and that’s something worth mentioning considering that some books that I’ve read with similar plot elements have made me consider that perhaps ripping my hair out would be a better use of my time then finishing the book.
Perhaps I’m not the intended audience for this book; maybe that’s why it just wasn’t a hit with me. If that is the case then fine, I can accept a book not being meant for me and I’m able to understand that I don’t have to like everything I read. It’s just a bit of a shame that a book I was so excited to read let me down in the ways it did.