For those of you who are unaware, Marvel has decided to branch out into the realm of chick lit by partnering up with Disney-owned publisher Hyperion. When I first heard about this I was actually kind of excited and the books have gotten fairly decent reviews from various online news and review sources. I know what you’re probably thinking. Chick lit? Really? Marvel. C’mon. And I thought the same thing, too. But I also figured that no matter what we got it couldn’t any more campy and ridiculous than what we usually get in the comics anyway, right? I mean, comics are the king of camp and silliness even when they are trying to be serious. It just happens. Whether it’s the totally not anatomically correct boobs, awkward poses, or anything that comes out of Spider-Man’s mouth there’s plenty of silliness to go around.
Interestingly enough, the two books that Marvel decided to publish first (and I honestly have no idea whether or not there will be any others) take two very different paths when telling their stories. Rogue Touch – an alternate history and origin story for Rogue of X-Men fame – is a very serious coming-of-age story that would hold it’s own better as an independent title than a Marvel tie-in. Meanwhile She-Hulk has Jennifer channeling her inner Sex in the City monologues basically 24/7 and providing the ultimate, stereotypical chick lit experience with just a little bit of added superhero. One decides to be very emotional, the other uses OMG on every other page. (I’m not even sure that’s an exaggeration.) One I thoroughly enjoyed reading, the other I kind of struggled to complete.
They are two very different books with arguably two different audiences. And they made interesting choices with both. I read through them both and I thought I would share my thoughts.
Let’s start with Rogue Touch.
Author: Christine Woodward
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Genre(s): Coming-of-Age, Romance, Media Tie-In, Superheroes, YA Fiction, New Adult Fiction, Science Fiction
I actually thought Rogue Touch was a really great book. The problem is that I don’t know why it’s a book about Rogue. The story picks up with a young, eighteen year old Anna Marie on the run after her fateful encounter with Cody Robbins. Unfortunately that’s about all of the original back story that is kept intact. The Rogue we know is there, I suppose. But we’re going to get there in a much different way than we have before.
We pick up with her working nights in a bakery until a strange young man crosses her path. Before she knows it the two of them are on the run together as she has to evade the cops and he needs to evade someone and something else entirely. They have a slightly ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ sort of relationship as they steal from random ATMs and road trip across the United States. The title of the book comes from their nicknames for one another. He calls her Rogue because of her personality and she calls him Touch. It’s a romance story at it’s core but not in the way that screams Harlequin/chick lit. It’a calmer, slower paced romance.
I guess that’s natural when you can’t exactly have any physical contact with one another.
Watching a young Rogue deal with her powers and their consequences was nice but it was a very solid departure from the origins we’re used to in the comics. I liked Touch as a character though his original assumed origins were much more reasonable than the truth that was ultimately revealed, I thought. But for the most part it’s a very solid story. I read it on and off again between classes and I was always wondering what would come next and what the future really had in store for Rogue and Touch.
Mostly, though, the best part was watching Rogue grow. She was just a scared teenager putting of the tough act when we first met her. But as she goes along with Touch she grows and rises to the challenges put before her. It was nice, too, watching her and Touch open up to one another. Rogue had never known anyone with the sort of secrets she has kept about herself before him and it was good to watch her find that kindred soul.
All that doesn’t sound too bad, right? It’s a great coming-of-age story for a young adult or new adult audience. I’m just not sure if it’s meant to appeal to comic fans or X-Men movie franchise fans. Either set of fans is likely to be disappointed to find that the Rogue they know is very different and dealing with very different situations than they likely expected.
It really wasn’t a bad book at all. I liked it. But I swear, I don’t understand why Hyperion didn’t just peg this as a young adult/new adult novel and nix the Marvel property references because really the only one we had was Rogue herself. But hey. I guess if you have the rights to the property go for it!
Now, let’s talk about Jennifer Walters’ issues, shall we?
The She-Hulk Diaries
I’m going to start this out by saying that I don’t actually read chick lit regularly, I’ve never watched Sex in the City (even though I referenced it earlier), and I was pretty hesitant going into this one in the first place. Not to say that I didn’t want to like this book. I really did. I love Jennifer Walters as a character and I love She-Hulk. Plus I’m a law student. She’s a lawyer. My dream is to have ABC someday make a courtroom drama starring Jennifer Walters representing human and superhuman clients alike. At the very least she deserves an Agents of SHIELD cameo.
The point is, I struggled to get through this book not because of the character or the story – both were actually really great. I struggled because of the format. I’m sorry but I can only take so many ‘OMG’ and related acronyms before I want to chuck my iPad across the room. It was hard to put up with it to get to the heart of the story which was actually pretty compelling. The book is told in diary format from Jennifer’s own point of view. That’s fine. I like diary format books. My favorite books growing up were the Dear America series and even now I still want to track down the international versions of that series.
I actually was really interested in the slowly developed legal cases that were going on sort of in the background. Jennifer’s inner thoughts were really fun and she was a fun narrator when she wasn’t dropping chat speak all over the place. And there are some fantastic moments where we get some cameos and mentions of some of our favorite Avengers – including her cousin Bruce Banner!
But man. Just the way it was written was a big turn off for me. So was the whole New Years resolution to find a man and whatever. Some of the guys she chased after – and had chased after in the past – were fun characters to explore but for the most part I find any plot like that lacking. Another thing that bothered me was sort of the way She-Hulk was portrayed in contrast to Jennifer. It wasn’t always a problem but at times I was just… I don’t know. Tired of Jennifer complaining about her at times. But at the same time I totally understand being upset about having your life uprooted at times and your reputation marred by some hulking mass of green superhero partying hard and making a mess of things. So it didn’t bother me that much, I guess.
I don’t know. I wanted to like this one. And I did to an extent. It was okay. If you’re a chick lit fan and more forgiving of all the ‘OMG’ moments then you might actually like it. It sticks to the actual comic source material a lot better than Rogue Touch did certainly and has a lot of fun with it, too. Which was nice. As a huge Marvel fan I appreciated all the little things they threw in there.
All in all, it was probably a good book for someone who likes more blatant chick lit and who has fewer expectations. So just because I didn’t like it as much as I had hoped doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out. It’s definitely geared towards the chick lit audience but also comic fans which is an interesting mix. I’m not sure how big of a demographic that actually is but it’s a very strong, well written book for the genre. It just wasn’t my thing.
Will Hyperion and Marvel team up for any future entries into their chick lit series? I’m not sure. I think that both Rogue Touch and The She-Hulk Diaries were very strong first novels for a future line of comparable stand-alone books. I think the She-Hulk Diaries could even be well poised to branch off into it’s own little series. But who knows! We’ll have to wait and see what Marvel and Hyperion have to say after they’ve been on the market for a while, I guess.
Have you read either of these books? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!