Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Stephanie Plum, Ho Bag
So what happens when a character in a genre book goes off the rails? Well, it depends. What one reader is willing to forgive in a character can, and sometimes does, vastly differ from what the reader standing next to them will.
Which brings me to Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich, the 17th (well duh) entry in the Stephanie Plum, inept Jersey bounty hunter series. When I first joined online Romancelandia way back a trillion years ago, a new Stephanie Plum book was anticipated, dissected, and ravenously devoured. Think about the hysteria over the early J.R. Ward novels and you'll have a decent comparison. But as the series has droned on, and as the author has essentially given readers the same book over and over and over and over and over and.....ahem - again. Well, a lot of people have moved on. I, however, have not. Oh don't get me wrong. I'm not what you would consider a rabid squee'ing The Author Can Do No Wrong fangirl. No, I just keep listening because I haven't gotten pissed off enough yet to quit.
I think, that's the key. I listen. I have never, ever read one of these in print format. It's been audiobook all the way since #1. If I were a reader? Yeah, I probably would have thrown in the towel already, because my reading time is valuable. My listening time? Not so much. I mean, I'm trapped in my dang car during my commute anyway. Stephanie Plum or inane DJ chatter? Hmmm, what to choose, what to choose.....
So what were my thoughts on #17. Well? Stephanie has turned into a slut. Now, I know - she's been bouncing between two men for ages, and she's just now a slut? Hear my out....
I've always felt that Stephanie should be with neither man in her life. She shouldn't choose either of them. Joe wants to change her and Ranger would never be a true partner. If a man wants to change you? Yeah, no thanks. And if a man is always going to hold some of himself back from you? Yeah, no thanks. But, since those are our choices, I will say that Morelli has mellowed in recent books. He's not quite as authoritative. I see him and Stephanie as "in a relationship" - even if they won't put a name to it. Hell, in this book - he even says he "loves" her. Now, this is Evanovich so it's not a mushy declaration - but Morelli says the word "love" in Stephanie's general direction. Which in my mind means - the guy cares about her. He's not just in it for the sex.
The problem comes in when Stephanie has smokin' hot sex with Ranger in this book. I can't entirely blame the girl - but now that it feels like Morelli and her are a "couple?" And Joe says the L word in the course of the book? Yeah. Skank Alert At 12 o' Clock. Look, I'm all for keeping your options open, but what is good for the gander needs to be just as good for the goose. Stephanie gets jealous when other chicks come sniffing around Joe. He cares about her, and she knows it. And she still bangs Ranger.
Yeah, I just said that.
I know that may sound strange from someone who reads some pretty skanky erotica, but the minute there are "feelings" involved and someone could get their wee lil' heart stomped on? Yeah.
However, this wasn't actually the entire issue for me. If Stephanie wants to be a skank, she should at least own it. Which she doesn't. She blames her bangin' Ranger on the fact that Morelli's creepy grandma Bella put a spell on her. A horny spell.
Seriously, shoot me.
So yeah, not only is Stephanie now a ho bag, but she's a ho bag who won't even own her own skankiness.
There's also a thin mystery angle here, which is actually thinner than usual. I know, it's hard to believe that's possible - but it is. Now, I know nobody actually reads these books for the mysteries - but this one was obvious and telegraphed early on, and no amount of the author throwing around a half-baked, runny-egg red herring was enough to make me overlook it.
Seriously. Thin. Epically, colossally thin. Kate Moss isn't this thin.
Hulk-mad, Hulk-smash, feeling like I'm being taken advantage of, angry. And since I've always firmly believed that the author will never resolve the love triangle, that the author will continue to give me the same book over and over and over and over....sorry....again? Yeah, I know what I'm getting. And I'm not angry. Yet.
But I can see and understand why some other readers are.
Discussion time: When do you call it quits on a series? What tends to be the final breaking point for you? The straw that broke your reading back?