Friday, November 4, 2011

Mystery Novel: Smokin Seventeen, Author: Janet Evanovich

Will I be switching to Diesel only?

I thought I didn't have a subject for a blogpost tonight but then one came to me and I groaned. Cause I just haven't wanted to acknowledge it.

Those of you who haven't read Smokin Seventeen by Janet Evanovich and don't like spoilers should skip this.

And those of you who have various complaints like - why can't she just choose one man - or why don't the characters grow up - or why does she keep doing the same things in all the books; like blowing up Steph's cars - this really isn't for you either.

All those complaints have been aired ad nauseum and, I wish this wouldn't invalidate anyones feelings, but they frankly bore me. Evanovich wrote a book called How I Write where she lays out the formula (though I don't remember her coming right out and calling it that) that she uses when she writes. It's a legitimate formula that starts with her choosing a crime. And it's a formula that has produced many books that have given me great joy.

Which is why I was so surprised at 17. See in books 1-3 the characters were circling each other and sizing each other up and getting to know each other. Then in 4 Stephanie did the deed with Joe. And in 5 & 6 she played with Ranger but there was a line she never crossed because of Joe. In 7 Joe officially broke up with her and Ranger pushed her and they had sex. And it was good. But it was once. Then she went back to Joe. And for the next 9 books, through many compromising positions with Ranger, she again never crossed that line because of Joe.

So in books 4 through 16 there is lots of actual sex, or at least allusions to it, and with the exception of that one incident in book 7, it's all with Joe. Twelve books of sex with Joe. One actual completed sex act with Ranger.

Because Stephanie loves Joe. And she knows he loves her. And even when they're fighting, she considers Joe her boyfriend. And she knows Ranger is never going to have a real relationship with her, even though in his own way he loves her, too. And Joe does have a relationship with her. It's dysfunctional but it's a relationship.

In book 17 all of that changes. Evanovich suddenly casually tosses Stephanie into bed with Ranger as if it's been happening all along. As if it isn't a violation of the character she herself has created. The rules she made for all of us to follow in the world according to Plum, and then casually broke as if they meant nothing.

And I felt betrayed. See that's what this is really all about. The strange relationship between reader and writer and how in some ways it involves trust. Even though Evanovich is a woman whom I've never met, she hurt me. She broke my trust.

And now instead of looking forward to Explosive Eighteen to come out on the 22nd of this month with my usual innocent, open-hearted, longing, I have walls up. Will she betray me even further? Has she set the characters I love on a course that I won't want to follow?

I know she has a right to do with her characters what she wants.

It's like when Joni Mitchell went from folk to jazz. She had a right to evolve that way. But I had a right to say I don't enjoy listening to her new jazz style. On the other hand when Bob Dylan went from acoustic to electrical and people had fits, I barely noticed and continued to love him.

Evanovich has a right to do with her characters what she wants. And I have a right to react how I want. I just hope she doesn't do something that so goes against the rules she has established with these characters that I no longer want to read them.

Cause I would count it as a loss and I don't want to associate this series with loss.

At least with Evanovich we do have Diesel to look forward to. Wicked Business comes out next June and it will be fun.


  1. Excellent post -- your points are valid. I love
    Evanovich, but I haven't read 17 yet because, after hearing some things about it, I've been shying away from possible disillusionment. I think I may wait until 18 is out, see what the buzz is about IT, and then decide if I'm going to pick up the series again.

  2. Well, huh. I don't have much of an opinion on the subject because, having read some early, stand-alone Evanovichs and been left rather meh, I never bothered to start them. However, if I had, I probably wouldn't have continued as I don't care for that type of formula. Personal taste and all that. I hope 18 lives up to your expectations.

  3. Linda - wise choice. I sure wonder where she's coming from but maybe I don't want to know.
    Delia - you know the best books Janet Evanovich ever wrote - Motor Mouth and Metro Girl. I'm not sure which comes first but they are two books about a couple, not a triangle. Sam Hooker is a lovable, cretin, Nascar driver and Alexandra Barnaby is a super intelligent, mechanic type who can fix an engine and engineer new technology. And they're funny as hell.

  4. That's why I haven't read these: Because eventually someone will give a recap, and since they are basically all the same, I'm now pretty much caught up on the whole series. I tried to read the first one, but just couldn't get into it.
    I haven't read Metro Girl and Motor Mouth yet, but they are on my TBR list. I enjoyed the Full series. I think that would've made a good movie.
    I only read a few of the earlier ones before I gave up on all of them. Meh.
    Do the Diesel books have a bit of paranormal in them? I'm not as familiar with those.

  5. Hmm. Metro Girl was one of the ones I read. I guess it just wasn't for me. I tried an SEP recently and felt the same. I believe we've discussed my missing gene before. ;)

  6. Well, we've discussed my take on Plum before. I think Evanovich betrayed her readers a loooong time ago. I haven't read one since about 7 or 8, when I finally gave up on them. I tried another series recently that developed into a triangle, and I didn't like it either. I guess I just don't go for the "two guys are crazy about me but I can't make up my mind" idea. For a month or two, maybe, but years later? make up your freakin mind. But I know how frustrating it is to feel betrayed by a favorite author, I hope she comes through for you in the next one.

  7. I loved the first few--read to maybe around 6? I own a few more after that, which I'll probably read at some point. But, even having read her writing book, it sounds like maybe she's calling them in these days. Which can happen. It's why I respect Crusie for considering stopping her writing. (Not that she's calling them in, but I mean--recognizing that maybe you're about to jump the shark.)

    I do think it's a betrayal, however, to do something that doesn't make sense in the world of a book. Changing from folk to jazz is like switching from writing thrillers to weepies, like Grisham, or romance to thrillers, like many have done. But she shouldn't be leading up to a Ranger-sleepover without setting it up properly.