Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How Far Is Too Far?

I listen to the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich on audiobook. I've always listened to this series on audio, having never "read" a single one of them. Ever. Now, I know myself well enough to know that if I did "read" these books, I would have chucked this series to the curb ages ago. The monotony would have gotten to me by now, especially since I can't remember the last time the author gave readers a credible villain and halfway decent mystery. But as far as listening to them? I like them. They're undemanding brain candy.

That being said, I just got around listening to Finger Lickin' Fifteen and have to say it....


Way too much Lula. Dear God, way, way, way too much Lula. Between the author regaling me with Lula's farts (Seriously? Fart jokes?!), and constant harrumphing (is it just me or does this character talk in grunts entirely too much?), I was past full-up. Oh, and for the record? Exploding diarrhea caused by bad barbecue? Not funny. I'm not even sure it's funny to 13-year-old boys.

All of which got me thinking on the subject of fluffy reads and just how far I can be pushed into "wacky territory" before my suspension of disbelief snaps. Now, obviously, I'm a big fan of fluff. I mean, I just enjoyed a mystery that featured a heroine thwarting the advances of a would-be Romeo from Uzbekistan. So I'm not incapable of shutting off my internal monologue when it comes to Funny Ha Ha books. So while Uzbekistan suitor is OK, a celebrity chef getting decapitated in broad daylight, in the middle of a street, in Stephanie Plum's Trenton, New Jersey was too much for me to roll with.

Yeah. Decapitated. In the middle of the day, in the middle a street. Also, I found it unsettling that a celebrity chef gets his head chopped off in Trenton and the media isn't crawling all over the city like a cockroach on a week-old Tasty Kake left out in the sun. And exactly how much sense does it make that Ranger asks for Stephanie's help in tracking down the guy sabotaging his business? I mean, hello?! Ranger is Batman. Stephanie is...well...totally inept.

On the bright side, I got my yummy Ranger fix.

So gentle readers, how wacky is too wacky? What has been known to push you over the edge and snap your suspension of disbelief in half? And for that matter, does anyone out there actually like the character of Lula? Seriously? Inquiring minds want to know.


LoriK said...

I like funny, but I'm not a big fan of whacky. I tend not to be able to suspend belief in the way required for whacky to work. I did enjoy the first few Plum books but I got fed up & bailed after 10 or 11 (and given what I've heard about how things have gone since then I don't regret it at all.)
Even when I was enjoying the books though I didn't much enjoy Lulu. She always struck me as less a character than a walking fat joke.

Lynette said...

LOL. Like you, I still read the books, even if they're library reads and I get them when I get them. Like you, the series is getting to be too much. I stopped buying them after 7 I think. Then my online book group keep raving about them and I said let me give them another try and I re-read the series up to where it was and reverted to picking them up a the library when I see a new one is coming out.

The shine if off for me. How many Grandma jokes? How long as Stephanie been a bounter hunter? Shouldn't she have gotten a little bit more experience by now? Yes, Lulu is annying as heck. Where is the plot? The last one that had a decent plot was High Five.

And for goodness sake. How long must we suspend disbelief that two, strong Alpha men are going to sit around and wait for Stephanie to make up her mind of which one of them she wants to be with?

BTW, I'm a Ranger girl.


joykenn said...

I never got past the first one...in fact I didn't even finish that one. Something about the "voice" really turned me off. I like disorganized heroines but find "wacky" vaguely discomforting. I like smart heroines who don't always have their life together but still have a smidge of common sense.

Mollie said...

I gave up awhile ago. So I can't really weigh in. My fav. was Grandma Mazuer. :)

Gail said...

My tolerance for wacky often depends on multiple factors. If I like the characters enough I'm prepared to laugh off some of the more absurd stuff. With the Plum series I had three things that stopped me from reading more books. Firstly I hit the point where I realized that the relationships were unlikely to truly progress in any reasonable time frame. Second the wackiness level was increasing in ways I was finding less and less funny. That is in part linked to the final straw which for me was when I realized that in all the books I'd read there was no progression in Stephanie's competence. At that point I started to looking at some of situations as stupid instead of wacky. Sigh. I really liked the series in the beginning.

Lyndee said...

Now, I'll admit it: I'm not picky. I'll read almost any cheesy, ridiculous drivel, and goddammit, I'll like it. I can handle a lot of wacky.

But what you just described sounds like way to effing much. Fart jokes? Diarrhea? Decapitation? Is this being written by a 6th grade boy?

Mayberry Mom said...

I listen to these on audio too. The reader does a great job with the voices and that makes it funnier to me. Lula's character drives me crazy. The #1 thing that makes me nuts is that a skinny author should NOT put weights/sizes into the book without doing research. Seriously. Lula is 5'5" and 200 lbs and she's supposed to be able to sit on a 6'3" man and crush him?! SERIOUSLY!! *rolls eyes* and the farting, yeah, my 10 year old might get a kick of that, but I don't.

My biggest thing with the suspension of disbelief is that people (grandma and Lula) are whipping out guns ans shooting at people in broad daylight and nobody blinks an eye or gets caught. Maybe NJ is different that WI, but I really can't see that happening!

Keira of LoveRomancePassion said...

Haven't read this one yet... the fart jokes make me think that I should stay clear away but then you said Ranger fix and I love Ranger -- Joe is nice and all but Ranger is like drool...

Venus Vaughn said...

I LOVE Lula.
I like the series, and recognize it has flaws, but Lula isn't one of them. At least not for me. And I say this as a fat, black woman who has never had a flatulence problem nor a solicited sex for money.

Every one of Evanovich's characters is a caricature, with the exception of Morelli. Lula is one of the more entertaining characters.

Then again, I am an advocate of folks reading what they enjoy and not wasting time on something that doesn't work for you. So I heartily encourage you to give up on a series that is not bringing you joy. Think of all the reading time you'll free up for bigger and better westerns?

A Library Girl said...

I feel a bit bad saying this, but when I read this book, well, I was kind of hoping that Evanovich was planning on killing Lula off. Or at least sending her somewhere else. I'm so tired of her, and have been for a while. I also kind of got the feeling that Stephanie's getting tired of her too - I mean, supposedly Lula is in danger of getting killed, and yet Stephanie barely works up the energy to help her out. Even then, what probably inspired her to work up the energy wasn't feelings of friendship, but rather a deep desire to get Lula out of her space.

This series was my brain candy for a long time, but I think my brain candy has gotten stale. :(

Kwana said...

Wow I learn so much here. Like you I also listen to these on audio. It's like watching the movie in my head.

Unlike you I really like Lula. She's one of the reasons I keep coming back. Though in the last book I was disappointed with all the fart and fat and food jokes. I was hoping for more Lula character development and giving her a bit more emotion with Tank. I also like when she brings Stephanie down a peg or two and shows she has what it takes. Somewhere along the line I missed her height description and never got her at 5' 5" In my head she's 5' 10 at least.

Now crazy for me to say but like everyone sure Ranger is the fantasy but I'd go for Morelli. Talking to Ranger would have me pulling my hair out.

Wendy said...

I always get the best comments when I blog about Evanovich :) Instead of replying to everyone separately, here are some more thoughts:

I actually liked the Lula character in the very early books. Especially coupled with the creepy villain Benito Ramirez (Best. Villain. Ever. in this series). But as the books moved on, she went too far into caricature territory...for me at least. Now it seems like all her jokes are about food and farting. I was really hoping the Tank relationship would stick for the "depth" that someone mentioned - but alas, no.

And I shouldn't just pick on Lula. I mean, Grandma Mazur is starting to bug me too :)

For the Ranger fans here who haven't read 15 yet? Yeah, lots of Ranger in this book. Oodles of him. Which actually made me quite happy. Part of the reason I keep listening to these on audio is because I like getting my Ranger sexy-talk fix. Morrelli's OK, but Ranger flips that fantasy switch that's hard to deny :)

Samanthadelayed said...

I love Lula and have to say she is one of the reasons I am still reading the books. I am more of a Morelli girl though.
I wish that Evanovich would give us some kind of idea when the series is going to end. It would be more enjoyable reading them if I knew there was an end in site ;)

BevBB said...

And exactly how much sense does it make that Ranger asks for Stephanie's help in tracking down the guy sabotaging his business? I mean, hello?! Ranger is Batman. Stephanie is...well...totally inept.

This just cracked me up because my first thought was that maybe it was Ranger's idea of seduction?


Otherwise, I got nothing because I stopped reading these books so long ago I have no idea which one I stopped on. I think my favorite character was the Buick, though. Wasn't it called The Blue Beast or something? Gotta love that. :D

OTOH, not enough to keep reading for. o.O

JamiSings said...

Hm - you just convinced me to never pick this up and stick with The Dresden Files. At least "wacky" in there involves things like reanimating a dinosaur skeleton or describing Bob The Skull's obsession with romance novels and Victoria's Secret catalogues. And nary a fat or fart joke in sight. (As someone who's 5' 3" and 248 pounds I'd probably want to rip off Evanovich's head if I read her books.)