Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review: Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum’s life is set to blow sky high when international murder hits dangerously close to home, in this dynamite novel by Janet Evanovich.
Before Stephanie can even step foot off Flight 127 from Hawaii to Newark, she’s knee deep in trouble. Her dream vacation turned into a nightmare, she’s flying back to New Jersey solo, and someone who sounds like Sasquatch is snoring in row 22. Worse still, her seatmate never returned to the plane after the L.A. layover. Now he’s dead, in a garbage can, waiting for curbside pickup. His killer could be anyone. The FBI, the fake FBI, and guns-for-hire are all looking for a photograph the dead man was supposed to be carrying.

Only one other person has seen the missing photograph—Stephanie Plum. Now she’s the target, and she doesn’t intend to end up in a garbage can. With the help of an FBI sketch artist Stephanie re-creates the person in the photo. Unfortunately the first sketch turns out to look like Tom Cruise, and the second sketch like Ashton Kutcher. Until Stephanie can improve her descriptive skills, she’ll need to watch her back.

Over at the Bail Bonds Agency it’s business as usual—until the bonds bus serving as Vinnie’s temporary HQ goes up in smoke, Stephanie’s wheelman, Lula, falls in love with their “largest” FTA yet, lifetime arch nemesis Joyce Barnhardt moves into Stephanie’s apartment, and everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii?!
Morelli, Trenton’s hottest cop, isn’t talking about Hawaii. Ranger, the man of mystery, isn’t talking about Hawaii.  And all Stephanie is willing to say about her Hawaiian vacation is . . . It’s complicated.

I'm a HUGE fan of Janet Evanovich and the Plum series. I love Janet's quirky style and relatable characters. I love getting lost in Trenton, New Jersey and spending time with inimitable Grandma Mazur ... not to mention the yumminess that is Joe Morelli and Ranger!

With that said, Explosive Eighteen really didn't live up to my expectations. As with Smokin' Seventeen, this book had a different feel to it ... but not in a good way. It was almost like someone ghost writing for Evanovich. The characters are still there, but I found myself thinking, "Morelli would never do that," or "Stephie doesn't say those things." Some reactions were over the top, others missed the mark. It was just off somehow.

It also really bothered me that after a long running tension between Stephanie and Ranger, they now share a quick second and it's done. Where's the mystery? Where's the guilt for having feelings for Ranger? Where's the conflict?!

The plot really dragged for me as well. It just felt like meandering. There wasn't a purpose for everything. Just a lot of black on white to pass the time, which is so not like Evanovich. Yet another reason I question the "feel" of the story. Up to this point, there's been more depth, more subplots and exciting conundrums. Eighteen simply fell flat.

I'm still the biggest Evanovich fan ever, but I can only commend Explosive Eighteen as mediocre. Here's hoping there's something bigger in store for Stephanie and the gang in the future. 

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