Jan 27, 2012

Book Review: Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

I feel cheated. I spent an entire night reading Explosive Eighteen and at 6 a.m. when I finally put the proverbial book down, I simply shook my head.

All the elements were there for - FINALLY - a fantastic Stephanie Plum novel by Janet Evanovich, but instead of digging deeply into the characters that many have fallen in love with, we were still left with so much surface nonsense. I wonder if the characters actually feel anything.

Perhaps I'm being a bit too harsh, but there was no introspection. You would think after a woman has had her life flash before her eyes about a dozen times, she would at least get some clarity in her life.

The book starts with Stephanie on the way back from Hawaii. I actually found the opening of the book to be a strange start because nothing really happens. She's on a plane. She's drunk and annoyed. But we find out something did happen and leads to the crazy run around Stephanie has to deal inevitably deal with.

O.K. Fine. No big deal. That moves the action portion along.

But how many people are out there actually reading these books to see how Stephanie gets through another bungled mess and how she screws up in trying to capture skips?

There was a real opportunity here to give readers something more – and still offer cliffhangers and questions – with the Morelli/Ranger situation.

Apparently, there was a huge occurrence in Hawaii between the three. It's constantly alluded to throughout the book with a ring-shaped tan on her left ring finger and how she wants to avoid Ranger and Morelli isn't talking about certain things, leading many to wonder who she went to Hawaii with and what actually happened.

When the readers finally do find out, it's a brief three paragraph explanation. I know Evanovich doesn't do flashbacks, but I am sure other passionate readers of this series would have loved to be transferred to that situation when the three of their worlds collide.

But we're not.

This book was a huge let down.

I do love Evanovich's writing style. Her ease with scenes, great pacing and good dialogue is what makes it easy to read until the sun comes up. I just wish she would give her readers something to feel good about once the book was over.


Rating: 2

Explanation: I am not going to do the traditional rating on this book like I have done on the self-published books. Evanovich's is an accomplished author who has been writing for several decades. He works get greater scrutiny because she has a team of people who work with her and pay her for these books. 

I almost feel the rating is as much of an indictment on her editor/publisher as it her because someone should really say "How can we give our readers more?"

Evanivich is a good writer and storyteller. She just needs to finally tell a story worth reading.


  1. I have never read any Evanovich because I don't generally read genre novels, even good ones. What struck me/tickled me about this review was this: "I feel cheated. I spent an entire night reading Explosive Eighteen and at 6 a.m. when I finally put the proverbial book down, I simply shook my head."

    I wish I could/would do that (not the shaking of the head at an unsatisfying read, but the stick-to-it-ivity).

    This book has 320 pages. I read 30 pp an hour, whether it's literary fiction or literary nonfiction or scholarly/academic work, unless the work is very simple (faster) or extremely complex (not much call for me to read that). I can't remember the last time I read for more than 2 continuous hours, even something I couldn't put down (Olive Kitteridge comes to mind, and Boys and Girls Like You and Me), even when I was in residence at a cabin in the woods and was more or less getting paid to read all day.

    You inspire me.

  2. I see that Amazon says the book is 320 pages, but I don't really think that it is. I read it on my Nook, and according to that it was only 193 pages. Considering I started the book slightly after midnight, there's no way there was 320 pages.

    When I opened the book and saw 193 pages in the bottom corner, I already felt cheated because I felt as though it was a Wham-Bam-Thank You-M'aam kind of book.

    I was worried there would be little depth and I was right.

  3. IMO, Janet Evanovich has been cheating her readers for awhile. I am convinced that if the manuscripts for her last four or five books didn't have her name attached to them, they wouldn't have been published.

    I expect a lot from published writers, especially ones who has been published for decades. Some of those writers, like Michael Connelly, Robert Crais and Sue Grafton continue to produce good tales; Janet Evanovich no longer does.

  4. I was able to examine a hardback copy of this book at my spiritual study group this morning, as one member passed it to another. It does indeed have 320 pages, but there is a lot of white space -- wide margins, 1.5 spaces between lines, very loose. I haven't read many things on my tablet, but the "pages" (screens) are more densely-packed, though not uncomfortable.

    My Thursday morning friends think I am a literary snob (I am) and can't understand why I'm not putting out my 35th novel yet, since I've been writing for more than ten years. (It's twenty, but I didn't correct them.) They said I wouldn't like the Evanovich book because it is "too entertaining."

  5. I like Evanovich because it's entertaining. I feel like I can turn my brain off when reading her stuff. She's a good writer. I think she's great when it comes to pacing. The stories have just lacked over the last six or seven or so.

  6. If Janet Evanovich's last six or seven books have been lacking, is she still a good writer? Not sure. I really enjoyed the first twelve books of the Plum series. The rest, well lets just say that I'm not a fan.

    I like literary fiction and well as popular and genre stories, when I find them well done. For example, I am a fan of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves series. I find them frothy and fun, but I also like Wodehouse's skill as a storyteller. I never felt that Wodehouse "phoned" it in or insulted my intelligence as a reader. I cannot say the same for Ms. Evanovich's recent books.

  7. I think she is a good writer. He style is very good and makes the books very readable - even the bad ones. I just think her plots have been seriously lacking of anything we got in the first half of the series.

    I wonder if she is tired of Stephanie Plum and maybe she doesn't know what to say anymore. It is a cash cow for her and the publishing company. Her last two books came out so quickly, I feel like Explosive Eighteen came out to coincide with the movie to just rake in a few bucks.

  8. For me, since Book 12, Janet Evanovich's style has deteriorated along with character development, humor and plot construction.

    I now read her looks out of curiosity, like watching a train wreck in slow motion. I no longer buy Janet Evanovich's books, I borrow them from the library, because I refuse to line her pocket for books that I find subpar and lacking. I used to be a real fan and am a fan of Books 1-12, but not of books 13-18.

    Other writers, namely Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Sue Grafton and Donna Leon have been able to keep long term series fresh and entertaining. But I consider those writers to be skilled story tellers. For me, Janet Evanovich has become a hack, who's stories are hackneyed.