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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stephanie Plum, Ho Bag

Genre fiction (any genre, pick a genre), is unique from most other types of fiction because, by it's nature, readers are deeply invested.  The book doesn't even have to be part of a series for this to happen.  As genre readers, there are just certain conventions that readers hold dear.  That we hold up as truth.  When a genre author is doing their job well, the characters should leap off the page and feel "real" - even when we know as competent adults that they aren't.  They're "characters."  It's this feeling of "real" that keeps readers coming back for more.  Says me.

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.

Ho Bag.

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.

Ho Bag.

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.

Which sounds like I'm ready to break-up with this series doesn't it?  You'd think that, but no.  Again, listening not reading.  And honestly, even with Stephanie being an inept, won't own her skankiness, ho-bag - I'm not angry enough yet to call it quits.  To quit on a series, I really need to be angryHulk-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?


KT Grant said...

Is it the fade to black sex with Ranger?

I'm with you. I felt right from the start Stehpanie and Joe were a couple and although Ranger is le nom, Janet didn't write it the correct way (at least for me) where it's believable for Stephanie to be with him. I don't mind her flirting with Ranger, but she always ends up with Joe and having sex with him multiple times over the course of a book, although it's more implied than show.

I quit Anita Blake when she became a paranormal ho bag because her creator went off the deep end. It stills hurts because I invested so much into that series.

Wendy said...

KB/KT: Nope, it ain't fade to black. It's out there, and in your face. Now, this is Evanovich, so we're not talking R-rated or anything - but yeah.
Descriptive Ranger AND Morelli sex in this book.

KT Grant said...

I read on Goodreads that Stephanie has sex with Joe and then with Ranger right away?

Wow, before it was fade to black, now she's adding sex? I guess it worked for her ebcause didn't she sell over 100k on release day? Looks like this may be the norm now with Stephanie.

Unknown said...

I quit after the third book. That was a while ago but I think it was because I became uncomfortable with the stereotypical secondary characters and I could only see it becoming worse.

A Library Girl said...

...She had sex with Ranger?!

I had assumed that Ranger would always be a "look, but don't touch" kind of guy for her. They would never do more than kiss and smolder, because Stephanie wasn't so stupid as to not realize that Ranger wasn't the type of guy to stick around and be in an actual relationship. Plus, I think that Stephanie would drive Ranger crazy if she was around him for too long.

In the last Plum book I read, it seemed like Stephanie and Morelli had achieved something fairly comfortable. Maybe it wouldn't always be exactly what Morelli wanted, because Stephanie's not the sort to stay and home and raise a bunch of kids, but it was something. If she was going to end up with somebody, I figured it'd be Morelli.

I always read the books - I think I only listened to maybe one or two of them. The past few Plum books I read were...okay...but definitely showing the signs that the series had outlived its welcome in my reading life. As yummy as I've always thought Ranger was, I'm not sure I could bring myself to read this book for Ranger sex - I think I'd be too pissed at Stephanie. As it is, she's done plenty of things in the past that made me wonder why Morelli and Ranger keep going after her.

Buriedbybooks said...

I still haven't listened to the 16th one. Just can't get in the mood. I have to say I love Lorelei King's narration.

I don't mind the Plum series giving me the same book over and over because I know it'll be formulaic. That's part of the charm, really. The mysteries have *always* sucked.

It's more TV series caper stuff than drama filled Movie material.

But yeah, I've had some issues with how much of a hypocrite Steph is. She's allowed to lust (and now have sex with?!) 2 different guys, but Morelli's a big jerk for even looking at other women?

Um. No.

I'll still probably pick this one up on audio though.

Wendy said...

KB/KT: Since I was listening, and not reading, I never truly gauged her time frame on the bed-hopping. But her and Ranger "do it" several times - even once in public. In a parked car. Seriously. As far as "heat level?" It's Evanovich - so probably somehwere in the nebulous PG to PG-13 range.

K Reads: Yeah, it did get worse. I can mostly roll with it, although 98% of the time I want to shoot Lula. Repeatedly.

Library Girl: Yeah, that. You can't tell me there aren't smarter girls in Jersey who are just as good, if not better, in bed than Stephanie and who would cause WAY fewer headaches. I mean, these guys could always look ME up - but it would require a trip to the other coast :)

Wendy said...

Amber: I keep listening for what they are. They're brain candy, and I even sometimes get a laugh out of them. But the last several? The laughs have been in short supply. I think because the formula is really straining at the seams.

And OMG - yeah re: Steph the hypocrite. It really annoyed me in this one.....

Bri said...

(I havent read all the comments yet, so apologies if I am repeating other comments) morelli one night, ranger the next - literally! and would have been ranger again the next morning if they had more 'raincoats'. not cool. ITA with you wendy on this one. i thought her and morelli were together, even though they did not define it.

however, I still keep reading. i know what to expect, i now get them from the library instead of buying them, but I read. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I went to college in that part of NJ, so a lot of the places she mentions, especially the mall, are places I have been.

The next one is coming out in November. I dont know if I should be worried that it is so fast. Apparently, the cliffhanger at the end of 17 is going to be the beginning of the book. there was a post on Evanovich's website that they are not putting up excerpts this time b/c of spoilers.

we'll see...

Kat Lively said...

I got as far book nine before I gave up. Surprisingly, the bouncing between Joe and Ranger didn't do me in, but rather the repetitiveness of the series that far back. Grandma likes to shoot things, Lula likes to eat. Steph's bail bondsman cousin is a perv. Everybody screams at each other. Okay, enough.

Unknown said...

Right, Lula. That was the character that bothered me the most. So many of Evanovich's characters are stereotypes and I can forgive a lot when it is a comedy but... there was just something about Lula that made me... uncomfortable. Once I realized she was going to be a recurring character, I cut my losses.
I still have the first two books on my keeper shelf although I haven't read them in years.

Anonymous said...

the straw that broke the camel's back for me on:

1) Anita Blake series - quit at Narcissus in Chains because I couldn't swallow Anita's increasing powers and her sleeping with everything and everybody (still going on to this day I think)

2) Stephanie Plum - love triangle broke it for me, I liked Ranger being elusive and preferred Stephanie to be with Morelli but seriously, when the stories stopped having plots in them is when I bailed. Compare the first three with the latter novels after I would say Hot Six.

3) just dumped Karin Slaughter, I don't care for the direction of the series and especially with the author combing both her Will Trent series with her Grant County series

It's hard to quit a series but when I don't like the characters anymore or care for the direction of the series, I quit, give it up and move on to other more deserving books


Barb in Maryland said...

Hi Wendy
I only made it through 2 1/2 Plums. I couldn't even bring myself to finish #3. Didn't like Grandma, wasn't overly fond of Stephanie.
I tend to give up on a series when I either lose interest in the characters/story line (Hello, Sookie) or the author pisses me off (Dana Stabenow, I'm looking at you!).
Never got into the Karin Slaughter books.
I still read all the JD Robb. I tend to read more mystery series that romance series. I never got into the Julia Quinn or Stephanie Laurens series, for example.

nath said...

Hmmm, I think I gave up on the Plum series on book 9. The breaking for me was when it was clear the love triangle would never be resolved. Ugh.

You know what though? I was browsing the bookstore the other day and picked up this one just for fun and opened it randomly... and I got the part where Steph let herself in Joe's house... after having dinner with David? Whatever. At this point really, I just don't get why Joe doesn't dump her and move on. I mean, yes, he loves her... but everyone has a breaking point... and I don't know, a man such as Joe, I would have thought he'd reached his breaking point a while back.

LoriK said...

I quit on this series at around book 9 or 10 and have never regretted it. Once you've read a few of these you've read them all and the triangle is one of my least favorite tropes.

This tri is of the especially annoying sort where it drags out forever and will never, ever be resolved because the author wants to keep both fanbases on the hook. That just feels like manipulative BS to me and I don't play that.

If I had read this far, this one would have been a wall-banger for me. If Joe was doing with some other woman what Stephanie has been doing with Ranger she'd pitch an epic fit and I'm sure readers would back her up. The double standard is not OK.

Wendy said...

Bri: It's so hard to quit once you're invested, and if the author has given you reading enjoyment in the past. I really need to hit that "angry" level before I can sever the cord.

Kat: And at least one car gets destroyed. I've always wondered how Stephanie keeps getting insured? After a while, don't insurance companies cry uncle?

Keishon: Things really slid south when Evanovich quit "credible villains" and started giving readers "wacky senior citizens" as skips. And it's SO hard for me to quit series. I really need to hit that "angry" zone. Hence putting up with Patricia Cornwell for as long as I did *sigh*

Bafriva: Yeah, I'm much more of a mystery series girl than a romance one. And I suspect that's why it's so hard for me to "break up" with a mystery writer. I've been reading that genre A LOT longer and nostalgia tends to kick in.

Nath: That is SO true! Could you see a guy like Joe, in real life, putting up with that nonsense indefinitely? Uh, no. Well, unless he had zero self-respect, but then he wouldn't be Joe anymore :)

LoriK: I haven't gone looking for more chatter, but yeah - I can see readers breaking up with the series over this book. The only reason it wasn't a wallbanger for me is because I was listening to it in my car. How does one wallbang a book that way? Drive the car into a wall? LOL

JamiSings said...

Well, by now you all know my feelings about Patricia Cornwell. So I'll address another - Piers Anthony.

I mostly read his Xanth books, but he whined so damn much about how he did write other books I gave them a shot.

Mercycle was just too preachy for me. (Actually, anything that has an environmental message drives me bonkers. See, my father is a PhD chemist who SPECIALIZES in making fossil fuels more environmentally sound. So a lot of those type of books are filled with stuff I happen to know for a fact is 100% nonsense and exaggeration.)

Firefly - Ug. Just - ug.

As I read his other series, stand alones, and of course Xanth I started to realize - this guy has a huge hang up on grown men having sex with underage girls. He actually thinks it's OKAY to be a pedophile or an ephebophile. In his Immortality series it actually ends with one of the characters becoming God and she decides it's okay for a 40+ year old man to have a sexual relationship with a 16 year old girl "if they really love each other."


It even invaded the Xanth series where a 16 year old girl ends up with the centuries old Justin Tree. (He was turned into a tree at some point in his past by a sorcerer who could change the forms of living things.) Bad enough he was obviously trying to promote a Xanth video game (that I never saw come into being) in several books, but this obsession with a grown man having sex with children? Piers, you sure your name isn't Victor Salva? (For those not in the know, Salva is the writer/director of Powder, Jeepers Creepers, and Jeepers Creepers 2, he's also a convicted pedophile. Though he prefers to rape little boys, not little girls.)

That was it for me. Sometimes I miss reading about Pantrees (trees that are shaped like pans and grow panties) and bushes that grow pies, but it's not worth it for the pro-pedophilia messages Piers fills his books with.

The man needs help. He also needs to be investigated to see if he's a child molester. He sure is obsessed with the thought of having sex with children enough.

AlohaJan said...

Just yesterday I gave up on the MaryJanice Davidson's Undead series whilst trying to read #10. Time after time I couldn't figure out which of the 10 characters in the room were speaking. Drove me nuts. Taking it back to the library without finishing it. Taking her off of my RSS feed.

Wendy said...

Jami: OK, ick. Just....ick.

I love historical romances, but thank heavens authors tend to "age up" the heroines. Would 16-year-old heroines be accurate? Sure. Do I want to read about them? Uh, H to the L to the NO!

Jan: I don't mind head-hopping, but when it's done badly? It is the worst. Just the pits. If I need a road map to decipher who the heck is saying what the author loses me quickly.....

JamiSings said...

I know, Wendy. Though - at the time they were written, the books were actually contemporary - so if it was written in the '80s it was set in the '80s - except for the Xanth stuff which being fantasy could actually take place any time. Sometimes if a character ended up in Mundania (our world) it would be hundreds of years ago and sometimes it would be the 20th century.

lisabea said...

"The problem comes in when Stephanie has smokin' hot sex with Ranger in this book."

Problem? I'm wondering if this is the new editor/publisher saying: Make Something New Happen For God's Sake.

And I guess I'm the odd gal out here, because I love Ranger. Let's go, Steph. Dooo eeeet.

(Ho Bag LB)

My WV is conical. Just thought that was funny.

PK the Bookeemonster said...

I read mostly mysteries and will drop a series if it gets .... beyond. Sujata Massey had an interesting series of her character living in Japan and getting into antiques but when she became a superspy....? Sometimes you just outgrow the storylines. Or stories (Hello George R R Martin and Robert Jordan before he passed). And even Sue Grafton, it WAS a contemporary PI series and now it's historical by staying in the 80s. I will go back someday but when we outpaced her I had to leave her behind.
JD Robb just has magic and makes it work after 30 something books. :)

joykenn said...

Thank God I never liked the first Stephanie Plum I tried to read! I will keep with a series until I get angry at the endless repetition and lack of growth of the character. At some point silly hangups become just annoying. Get over it already or get some therapy.

So how do you keep a series alive? The secondary characters get developed more and have their chance to grow--La Nora in the Death series is fabulous at this. But as Patricia Cornwell proves this can become ridiculous if you don't have imagination and have to reach too far into another genre to develop them. I expect Davidson to bring in aliens next. I'm really sorry all the fairy politics were introduced into Sookie's story. Sigh...just one more of those and we'll see.

A Library Girl said...

@lisabea - Oh, I like Ranger too. I just don't think he'd be a particularly good match for Stephanie - I'm sure the sex would be great, but there's more to a good relationship than just sex. And the really expensive cars that Stephanie goes through like potato chips.

Plus, as far as I'm concerned, if I'm supposed to be seeing these characters at all like actual people, the things Stephanie does should have consequences. You can't tell your guys "You can't be with anyone else but me" and then hope around in multiple guys' beds without there being repercussions. That's one of the reasons why I finally managed to quit both of Laurell K. Hamilton's series - I got tired of her main female characters hypocritically doing the things they told their men not to do. Am I supposed to say "Yay, you go girl!" when the women get to sleep with all the hot guys and then tell those same hot guys they must be monogamous or they will be dropped like hot potatoes? Maybe that's the response authors like Evanovich and Hamilton are expecting, but I just can't.

Unknown said...

I keep reading Stephanie Plum books because they are mostly just habit now. I like them... I just don't love them anymore. I wish Evanovich would quit writing them, or at least give us a number for the final book so we can see an end in sight. ha
I find it interesting that you only listen to them and I totally get that. I am like that with James Patterson..for some reason the audio versions are really well done and I find the times I have actually read Patterson that I haven't enjoyed them.

DianeN said...

I've become ruthless about quitting series that no longer do it for me, whatever "it" is. I never got into Stephanie Plum, so never had to break up with her, but I've severed ties with any number of series over the years. Take J.R. Ward, for instance. I adored the first 3 BDB books, recommended them to friends, got into the online scene, etc., but the love didn't last for me. Now I think about the ridiculous jargon and gratuitous product placement and wishy-washy heroines and I'm actually glad the honeymoon was brief! But I do believe in second chances, and I've really enjoyed J.R.'s fallen angel series so far. I may quibble with her style (or more than quibble!) but she can tell a story, for sure!!

Tracy said...

*snort* Ho bag lol I don't read this series but I've heard some interesting things about it. I think I'll give it a pass. :)

I usually stop a series out of boredom or disinterest. When the next book comes out I think: do I really want to read it or can I live without it? If I can live without it I just pass. Of course sometimes I pass and then kick myself afterwards. lol

Kristie (J) said...

I gave up on this series around 13 I think. I'm such a Morelli girl it was driving me crazy watching her bounce back and forth. By the sounds of it I'd be throwing this one against the wall. I think Evanovitch painted herself in a corner with the triangle and now neither side can be happy. Should she choose my guy, it would always be in the back of my mind that she banged Ranger, thus cheating on Joe, thus making me unable to forgive her. It makes mer very sad but this series is dead to me now. Both in the same book? Can't handle that. And the fact she doesn't own it seals the done deal.

Wendy said...

Lisa: I'm actually a Ranger girl, but over the last several books I've really gotten the Stephanie And Morelli Are A Couple vibe. So to have her *bam* have crazy hot monkey sex with Ranger now? And still have her talking/being with Morelli? Yeah. Ho bag. LOL

PK: Grafton is another one I listen to on audio exclusively. The last several were ho-hum for me, but I thought U was pretty dang enjoyable. First one I really liked since....oh probably Q.

Joy: Another author who is really good at it is Tess Gerritsen. She allows her characters to grow without rewriting history. That was the thing about the Cornwell series that drove me nuts. The characters morphed into pod people.

Samantha: I go to audio a lot for mystery/suspense. I like listening to that genre, and it's a way for me to "keep up."

Wendy said...

Diane: The BDB thing totally passed me by. I read the second book and did see why some readers loved them - but for me? The dialogue drove me bonkers.

Tracy: I'm really good at picking and choosing within romance series. I'll read book one, skip book two if I'm not interested, and pick up book three. But mystery series? I'm rather militant about reading in order.

Kristie: This one would have driven you insane. The more I think about it, the more I find I'm annoyed with Stephanie for not "owning" her behavior. Sure, go ahead and screw both guys - but don't pass the buck off on Grandma Bella. Geez.

CindyS said...

For me, it was the funny. Books 3 through to about 7 had me in stitches but after that, she lost the funny part.

If I think back to my first 'break-up' it was Julie Garwood. She lost the magic that made her H/H sizzle. I made it through 2 of her contemporary books before realizing I couldn't follow her anymore.

I now think it's funny that I would say 'I would read the author's grocery list!'. Turns out, I wouldn't.

I have only gotten mad at 2 authors - Suzanne Brockmann and J.R. Ward. It was my own issues whether the overall story arc was killing me OR, and I think this is the real reason, characters that were once interesting were made into mush. That said, I do feel like I could go back now as long as I knew not to get attached to a particular character. Getting burned a few times is not worth it!.


Wendy said...

Cindy: A big reason I've kept on with Stephanie is that I could typically count on one LOL moment during the course of listening. But the last several? Yeah, not so much. Still, it's filling a "brain candy" niche for me - so I'm keeping on.

OMG - "mush" to describe characters. I may have to steal that one....

Cursing Mama said...

I was utterly taken aback when Stephanie hopped in Rangers Bed and felt no shame. It was so out of character that I question which Evanovich is actually writing these things anymore - it would certainly explain some of the last few craptastic offerings. I think this may have been the one that jumped the shark, but I'll admit to losing focus back around #9.

Wanderer said...

I've only done audibooks with this series too :)

In this book I felt like JE's humor was definitely stronger than in the last few books. I was very happy with that! But yeah, I hear ya about the bed hopping. Considering Steph only slept with Ranger one time MANY books ago, to have her sleep with him several times in a short book felt very out of character. Having said that, I still enjoyed the book and laughed a couple of times..."Beep, beep, beep, beep" LOL

I also agree it's definitely clear that Joe and Steph are a couple and I wished a couple books ago that JE would give them their HEA and spin off Ranger to a Range-Man series and have him find someone ala Mr & Mrs Smith.

Btw, IIRC I believe she slept with one guy and then the other the next day - in answer to one of the comments above.

As for when to call it quits on a series, I find that I have a very low tolerance for paranormal series. The main two I've quit are Anita Blake and BDB. I definitely prefer a paranormal series that has a finite number of books. Most recently was the Fever series by KMM where I read the final book and was very satisfied with the ending. But....this week I read that there will be 5 more books in the Fever world. As much as I enjoyed the series, what the hell! I want closure.

As for these light and breezy reads and cozy mysteries I find I'll read them as long as the author keeps writing. Most recently I've read Lois Greiman's Chrissy McMullen series, Toni McGee Causey's Bobbie Faye series and Susan Enoch's Samantha Jellicoe series and I would LOVE if those continued. So yep, I'll be reading Steph Plum #18 when it comes out :)

In short, for me:
Long paranormal series BAD
Long cozy mystery series GOOD

Carrie#K said...

I read one of Stephanie Plum's early ones when it was still all the hype and it just didn't grab me.

Series I have broken up with: Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone. PKthebookeemonster had it right, once she was no longer contemporary, it got dull. Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak - well, I might not have actually broken up with her. I might just be waiting for a few more books to be published.

Actually, that's the worst. Books come out so slowly lately. I've completely lost interest in Jamie and Claire in Diana Gabaldon's books now.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, never read this series but for me mostly the point that I start thinking about whether I really want to continue reading a series is when it goes HC. I very, very rarely ever shell out the money for HC, so that makes my wait for the next installment in a series longer. If I am then still interested in the book, I will continue reading the series (Psy/Changeling). But when the point comes where the series goes HC and the books are either not worth that price to me or the last books were just meh, then I will quit the series.
I quit BDB because it really didn't work for me anymore after Phury's book and I quit the Darkhunter series a few books after Acheron's - it was the same story (which I can live with) but suddenly there were so many new secondary characters introduced and the world building got confusing and the quality wasn't the same anymore IMO that I decided to quit.
So, it is mostly that the books lose their appeal over time and then get 1) too expensive and I forget about them while waiting for the MMP or 2) they lose the something that kept me hooked in the first place which usually happens over a few books.

Marguerite Kaye said...

I tried to quit, because around about book 9 or 10 I got bored, but I just can't break the habit. For me, the Morelli/Ranger thing is getting tedious, not even so much becuase Joe's feelings are involved (thought that's some of it) but because Stephanie just won't make up her mind, and that's gone beyond tedious. Plus, she's been taking poor Joe home for dinner since very early on - surely that's commitment of some sort!

Best series at the moment for me is Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brody books. I LOVE them with a huge big love, and I'm gutted that she says she's not writing any more at the moment.

Anonymous said...

I like the books but I just wish that JE would make Steph's character refect her intelligence in her job and her personal relationships. Just own up to it already and admit to Morelli that she doesn't want to become her mother. As far as Ranger if she wants more than he can give, move on. I still don't see why she has to choose and can't just have some fun while she's figuring it out. If things don't get better in #18 I think I'm done.

What does it for me to leave a series is the inconsistencies in the story lines. Patricia Cornwell lost me because of this.

Joni Holt said...

I'm just on book 6, so not sure when I will quit. However I did quit Karen Slaughter when she killed off Sarah's Hubby. That really bothered me. And I no longer read Iris Johanson because I was only reading the Eve books, and after the whole Bonnie thing was resolved I no longer had an interest in her. Just looking for someone new to read now. Any ideas would be great :)

Wendy said...

Joni: For funny I like Laura Levine's Jaine Austen series. For not funny - I adore Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli/Isles books. The TV series lost me after one year, mostly because I felt they changed too much of the source material. But I'm still in love with those books!

Aquaria said...

Wow. Judgmental, much? Stephanie has never really committed to either man. That means she's free to do what she wants, and that includes sleeping with who she wants, when she wants. She doesn't owe Joe or Ranger or even you any explanations.

I don't care if she sleeps with them alternate nights or even hours. She's an adult. She can do that if she wants. As long as she and her partners practice safe sex, I couldn't care less.

As for why she's in this spot, Stephanie is confused, because Evanovich is confused.

Evanovich's mistake is that she started out with Morelli definitely being the one she intended to have Stephanie be with. Ranger was supposed to be Stephanie's bad ass sidekick, a very common staple in the mystery genre.

Badass sidekicks have some specific characteristics that good authors have to use to keep them firmly in place as the badass sidekick. He's the protatongist's enforcer who's scary at how brutal and efficient he is, almost more machine than human. Which is not someone readers can really warm up to. That's what Ranger was supposed to be, the mostly loyal sociopath who could do the dirty work that Stephanie couldn't do physically or morally, much like Hawk in the Spenser series, Bugowski in the Gennaro series, or Joe Pike in the Elvis Cole series.

When authors create these guys, they're supposed to make sure that you, the reader, are uncomfortable with the idea of getting too close to him. You can't make him all that likeable. He's supposed to be the kind of guy who's capable of anything, his morals in a gray-to-black area. Only his association with the protagonist(s) keeps him from sliding completely into darkness.

So he's supposed to be the kind of guy that you're darn glad is on the hero's side, because you know how dangerous he'd be if he weren't.


Aquaria said...

But Ranger got away from Evanovich, the second she made him likeable, and human, starting around Book 5. You can't do that with the badass sidekick. He's so badass that if you humanize him, people will start looking at him as the hero, or darn close to it. He's the guy who gets things done. Readers love characters who don't dither around, and face things head on.

By making Ranger a can-do guy who's super-smart, wealthy, someone with excellent taste, someone funny in his own way, and totally sexy, she put herself into a total bind with making Morelli the man of Stephanie's dreams.

He's not the man of her dreams anymore. Ranger is. Ranger can give Stephanie everything she actually dreams of: Plenty of financial security and a life of adventure. Morelli became the schlub who'd give her the ordinary life with the sweet little house, and a life of drudgery, cleaning house and wiping snot off kids' faces. There's no excitement in that. There's no future for the series in it. If Stephanie chooses Joe, the series is over.

If Evanovich were smart, she'd send Morelli packing and turn Ranger and Stephanie into a modern day Nick and Nora. Edgier and a little darker, but the same sophisticated crime fighters. They could travel the world, solving crimes. Stephanie would need to grow up a lot first, and take a hard look at what she really wants in this world. And Evanovich would have to realize the hole she's dug for herself.

I don't think she's capable of it at this point. If she hasn't comprehended yet that she can't save Morelli, it won't happen. She's only had every chance since at least Book 10 to settle the issue, and, eleven books later (as of this writing), she still hasn't done it.

There was a glimmer of hope in 12 Sharp when she seemed to realize that Ranger was the new alpha male, the future of the series. It's not a coincidence that it's the best-written book, with the most depth of characterization, and the most coherent and cohesive plot. She had a great, fascinating character to work with and hang the series on.

But then JE backed away from it, and keeps trying to squeeze the square peg of Morelli into the Ranger-shaped hero hole. So with each passing book since 12, the series has become progressively more mediocre, when it wasn't downright vile, as in book 14.

Anyway, the more she tries to save Morelli, the deeper the hole gets, for Morelli and the series. It's not fair to Morelli, who was an awesome character in the beginning; however, he's been on an inevitable slide to irrelevance since Book 5, and it shows ever more with each passing book.

When you're in a hole, stop digging.

Judy731 said...

I agree with Aquaria. Stephanie should partner up with Ranger, work for him, be HIS woman, lover. His life is dangerous, but exciting. I love Ranger!

Judy731 said...

I agree with Aquaria. Stephanie should work full time for Ranger, traveling the world with him to solve crimes. I like Joe Morelli, but there's no comparison to Ranger! Please keep Stephanie and Ranger together, and don't be so stingy on the love scenes. You can prolong them at least a little bit!

Unknown said...

Can't stand Ranger. He adds nothing but perversion to the books.