As a writer, I probably don’t read enough novels. Last year I read a total of three, and I read none the year before. This year, I’m going to try to read at least one every month I take off from writing. Seeing that the new She Hulk ongoing series is starting next week, what better novel to read than the recently released She Hulk Diaries? While I’ll state my opinion on the book, this isn’t really a review. This is more about my thoughts on the book as a writer, and whether or not it may influence my writing in the future. And yes I know this is kind of a chick-lit book, but I can enjoy pretty much any genre if it’s good, so is it?
While She Hulk Diaries makes a lot of references to major events in the comics, it takes place in its own universe. 616 She Hulk (main universe she hulk) is publically known as Jennifer Walters, a very skilled lawyer and frequent member of the Avengers. The Jennifer Walters in Diaries is not publically known as the She Hulk, and makes an effort to keep it that way. The important differences between Jennifer and her cousin remain though, including how she retains full intelligence while in Hulk form, and that she loves being a superhero.
As of the start of the book, she’s single, has recently been downgraded in the Avengers from her Hulk’s chaotic partying antics, has no permanent place of residence and doesn’t have a job. Diaries is written in journal format as she’s trying to turn her life around. She has help in the form of a college friend/hairstylist, her old from Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway and a few staff members from the Avengers mansion. Every three or so chapters she turns into She Hulk for various reasons. They’re usually for a quick action scene, but occasionally her transformations are for very well done dramatic scenes.
This book will not win any kind of literary awards, but it was a delight to read. It’s fast paced and it perfectly captures the light hearted nature that most She Hulk titles have. There’s a lot of great humour, both in the events and in the writing style. Her love interest from the past often leads to hilariously awkward moments, and in the writing she often crosses out words in Jennifer’s effort to be more honest with herself. Most of the action scenes are hilariously short as the She Hulk easily takes care of her opponent(s). But even with the fast pace, the plot is fairly strong. She lands a new job fairly early and kicks it off with a major case, one that leads to several depressing moments to balance the book’s mood out.
With that said, the book’s not perfect. While there is a lot of dramatic build-up, there’s rarely any build-up for the action sequences. She often gets a page on her Avengers phone, transforms, and shows up just to end the fight in less than half a page. These scenes are entertaining, but with a few exceptions they carry very little weight. And while it’s fairly common for superhero fiction, the ending is a bit too convenient. There’s a good plot twist though.
My final thoughts as a reader are, well … it’s definitely worth it. It’s a very enjoyable read, with a good mix of superhero action, a legal thriller and a character study. In Peter David’s own words “Those who are unfamiliar with Bruce Banner’s wayward cousin are in for a treat … Whether you like She-Hulk straight up, comedic, or a combination of both, The She Hulk Diaries is the She Hulk endeavour for you.”
As a writer, I don’t think this will change my writing style a lot. That said, it’s the first book I’ve read in years with more than four action scenes, and it was a bit refreshing to see that. My novels tend to have at least six each, although I’m trying to make sure they all have significance for either the story or a major character’s development. The only feedback I’ve received so far says that my pacing is good and the action is fun so I won’t worry too much, but I would like to write more tense scenes without always resorting to violence.
From a character developing standpoint, this might affect my writing a bit. It has a humorous way of delving into Jennifer Walters’ mind. While my writing style is very different, I may try to make my own internal narrations more entertaining and to give each character a more distinct voice. This is something I wanted to do anyway, but still.
So was this worth reading? Oh yes. The Sensational She Hulk is my favourite of the hulks, and for that alone this was worth reading. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in a fun Superhero novel, or even someone who usually only reads comics but would like to give a novel a shot. This is a great gateway book, and a great way to ready yourself for next week’s She Hulk 1.