Sunday, June 23, 2013

Marta Acosta "The She-Hulk Diaries" (Hyperion, 2013)

I’ve only a passing familiarity with the She-Hulk, but the concept of a tie-in novel was simply too good to pass up.  I’ve always found the idea of a Hulk/attorney to be fairly hilarious, so why wouldn’t I want to read about her?

Just like what it says on the tin, The She-Hulk Diaries take the form of Jennifer Walters’ (Shulkie’s alter-ego) diary.  As the novel opens, she has been kicked out of Avengers Mansion, lost her job, and is basically broke.  She creates a series of resolutions, and her efforts to complete these become the driving forces of the story.  This is really Jennifer’s story.  She-Hulk is a peripheral character, not the focus of the story.

That being said, Jennifer is a wonderful protagonist.  She’s smart, funny, capable – yet just enough down on her luck to avoid being a Mary Sue.  Acosta has set her up with personal issues that make her relatable, but she never falls into the trap of being whiny or self-absorbed.

I was a bit surprised at how much Jennifer’s love life, or lack of one, dominates portions of the book.  There’s a resurfaced old flame, as well as a mysterious new man who pursues Jennifer.  While this plotline was well handled, I found that I really didn’t care.  (And here I realize that I’m not the target audience for this novel.  So YMMV may vary.)  

All in all, The She-Hulk Diaries was a light, fun, hilarious read.  Absolutely great summer reading.  My enjoyment was diminished by the romantic subplots, but they didn’t detract from Shulkie as a feminist superhero.  And for many readers, these same plots may be a strong selling point.

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