Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review: Smokin' Seventeen

Smokin' Seventeen
Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This latest installment of the Stephanie Plum series doesn't add anything to the series until the "punchline," which is the culmination of the entire book. One could make the argument that it is different from the sixteen before it, but, beyond surface elements, I couldn't see a single reason to tell people to keep reading to this one, unless you're that enamored of the series.

In this book, people are turning up dead in the lot of the bonds office. Stephanie is sickened by this fact, but she still has to pay the bills, so she's hauling in weirdos who didn't show up for court. This time around, she has a senior citizen who thinks he's a vampire, and a big, tough guy who hangs around his apartment naked because he has nothing better to do. Because, why not combine all the weirdness of the previous books' skips? Meanwhile, Stephanie's family is trying to set her up with an old classmate who wouldn't be all bad, if he would hear her when she says, "No."

That Evanovich has a positive message for women everywhere is new, and appreciated. Everyone pushes Stephanie to ignore her instincts where Dave is concerned, but she repeatedly tells him she doesn't want him around, he ignores her wishes, and she feels increasingly creeped out. She's justified in this, in the end, and I was glad to see a fictional representation of a stalker who lets himself into a woman's living space being dangerous. There are far too many fictional representations of that being romantic, these days.

The major difference between this book and the sixteen before it (plus the between-the-numbers) is that there's a lot more sex. Stephanie is cursed with a spell that's supposed to make her slutty, and so she feels little compunction in acting on the urges that have been building over the last 16 books. While we're not looking at romance-novel-level detail, there is less left to the imagination than in previous books. The cynic in me wonders if Evanovich really needed to change it up that much to keep her on the bestseller list.

Overall, if you like the Stephanie Plum series, you'll probably like this one. Don't go in expecting a lot of changes or for anything to be shaken up or decided. Stephanie continues to dither about her love life and eat things that are terrible for her, Lula continues to perpetuate stereotypes, Grandma Mazur continues to be a batty old lady, the love interests continue to be sexy and noncommittal.

If you're a completionist, or you really like reading basically the same book over and over, feel free to read it. But, if you're just getting into the double digits on these books, and you're wondering if it's worth it to keep going, you may want to stop now.

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