Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review: The She-Hulk Diaries by Marta Acosta

The She Hulk Diairies is a Marvel novel focusing on the life and struggles of Jen Walters as she tries to come out from under the shadow of She Hulk and find a job and a boyfriend of her own. As She-Hulk, she's in trouble with the Avengers for her destructive behavior. As Jen, she need to find a new job and wants to find a steady boyfriend (Shulkie is known for one-night stands). She is also pining for a one-weekend encounter she-as-Jen had some time back, one that she thinks might really have been true love, but who never called her back--and she's not going to take the first step. She does get the job, meets two possible true-loves, and eventually starts listening to all the people telling her that she really ought to stop drawing the boundaries so firmly between Shulkie and Jen.

This was mostly a fun read, though my overall response is decidedly mixed. I enjoyed Acosta's ability to blend of the superhero and superhero science with the mundane world we all know. Without quite warping our world out of shape, Acosta makes room for the existence of robots, aliens, and super-advanced science, pointing out the legal problems some of these things cause and that Jen Walters, as a lawyer, has dealt with. I was on the fence about the choice to give Jen a somewhat scatterbrained first-person voice. On the one hand, it was appealing. On the other, it didn't really sound much like a highly-educated, highly successful lawyer who, however messy her personal life, probably knows how to keep very good records.

I also liked the Walters/Shulkie dichotomy. It's clear to the reader early on that this is not a true personality divide, not of the Banner/Hulk variety, but a more willful decision to keep the parts of her life separate, and watching the "two" of them accept this was enjoyable.

The romance, sadly, did not work for me at all. Jen talks a lot about the great sex the couple had, but it is more than three-quarters of the way through the book before the man himself reappears (That's not really a spoiler, right? I mean, you had to know he would, given the type of book it is), and he does not make a good impression. First of all, he's engaged to someone else, but he still wants to work on the old relationship, and he starts right off by demanding Walters drop the case she's on because she'll be prosecuting an innocent man. How is she to know the man is innocent? Well, she has to take her ex-lover's word for it: This is a good guy. Right. So someone who desperately needs a job and has just landed a good one, is supposed to throw over her assigned case and probably lose the job because her one-time weekend lover says so? When she doesn't drop the case, he promptly turns sulky and claims she wasn't the person he thought she was. This left a very bad taste in my mouth, and the one or two flash-back conversations later didn't soothe me, even if scientific love songs are appealing. Sadly, love interest number two has problems of his own, though it is in his favor that he likes powerful women.

Overall, She Hulk Diaries was an enjoyable, fluffy read, but not without its flaws.

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