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Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Review: Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum #17)

Book cover of Smokin Seventeen by Janet Evanovich
Lula was doing nail polish repair when I walked in.  She was wearing a lemon yellow spandex dress and four-inch black platform heels, and her hair was a big pufflball of neon green. 
"Is that your real hair?" I asked her. 
"No way.  This here's a wig.  We had to do surgery on some of my hair since the chicken from hell got into it.  Was that another new car you drove up in? What happened to the Shelby?" 
"Exploded." 
"Shit happens," Lula said.
-- Smokin' Seventeen


Janet Evanovich’s new book, Smokin’ Seventeen, sold more than 200,000 copies when it was published on Tuesday.  Even if you don’t follow publishing numbers, you can probably guess that’s a lot for ONE DAY.  Those numbers are a testament to the huge popularity of Evanovich’s inept New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum.  There’s a reason the Plum books are so popular that they achieve instant #1 status and are about to be made into a Katherine Heigl movie (ugh).

Goodreads synopsis: Where there's smoke there's fire, and no one knows this better than New Jersey bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum. The bail bonds office has burned to the ground, and bodies are turning up in the empty construction lot.  To make matters worse, Stephanie is working out of a motor home she shares with a dancing bear, and Joe Morelli's old world grandmother has declared a vendetta against her.  And just when Stephanie decides it might be time to choose between the two men in her life, Morelli and Ranger, a third man from Stephanie's past moves back to Trenton...

My thoughts: I liked Smokin’ Seventeen a whole lot more than I’ve liked the past several Stephanie Plum books.  In my mind, Books 1-11 rocked – they were funny and hugely entertaining, even if the mysteries were somewhat predictable.  But you don’t read Stephanie Plum books for the plot – you read them for the quirky characters and the comical situations in which Stephanie is constantly caught.  Books 12-16…well, they just weren’t good.  They were repetitive and boring.  I stuck with them, but if Smokin’ Seventeen hadn’t been good, I might have given up on the series.

Happily, Smokin’ Seventeen was far better than the most recent books in the series.  Evanovich has cut out the weird and goofy plot twists and gone back to focusing on the characters that made the series so popular in the first place.  Loony Grandma Mazur, former ho Lula and all the others are back, but there are new criminals to hunt down and, of course, a couple crazies who want to kill Stephanie.  Joe Morelli and Ranger are in the book a lot, both wreaking havoc with Stephanie’s overactive hormones (see spoiler note below).

I’m glad that Evanovich is back in form, and I hope she can keep the series going longer.  Explosive Eighteen will be published in November, so readers only have to wait six months (instead of the usual year) for a new full-length Plum book.


**Minor spoiler/caveat below**


Someone else might be able to confirm/deny this, but I’m fairly certain that this is the first book in which Stephanie slept with both Morelli and Ranger – in consecutive nights, literally hours apart.  Super skanky, right?  If it were anyone other than Stephanie, yeah, it would be.  But for some reason, something that would make me throw any other book at the wall was (sort of) okay here.  Evanovich explains away this bed-hopping by having Stephanie put under an old Italian curse so she literally can’t control herself.  I still don't really like it, but just this once I’ll let it go.
Romance novel book reviews by Sarah The Brazen Bookworm

12 comments:

  1. So glad to hear good things about this one, because I've read everyone of this series. This one is on my Nook right now waiting for me to dive in.

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  2. I actually just group this one with the past few releases...not enough originality to make me happy!

    Also - I think the only other time she had sex with Ranger is Hard Eight, so until this book she managed not to be completely slutty :P the whole sex vordoo whatever thing was reeeeally weird.

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  3. That's what I thought, Allison! And at least in that book she and Morelli were broken up. Of course, if I had both Morelli and Ranger trying to seduce me, I don't know that I could trust myself to not be totally slutty! :)

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  4. I have to say that I don't quite get why both times she slept with Ranger, she thought she had a urinary tract infection? What's with Ranger anyway? Maybe she should see a Dr?

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  5. Evanovich ignored her characters back stories in this book. Joe and Ranger have been neutered for all intents and purposes. Stephanie acts dumber than Snookie from "Jersey Shore". She sleeps with two men back to back and has no Catholic guilt? Lula eats her way through this book. What is the purpose of the dancing bear? I wish I could return my copy of this book for a refund.

    This books makes "Jersey Shore" look like intelligent television. Random House needs to demand that someone help Evanovich put together a strong plot and get her characters back on track.

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  6. Smokin' Seventeen is geared towards juveniles who watch reality and trashy talk shows. It may have sold 200,000 copies the first day, but how many would be returned if they could be. It was a disappointment and a waste of reader's hard earn money. It made the three main characters lose credit-ability, wiping out their past history. Lulu spent the book eating her way through it. Nothing could be called funny or amusing. It was disgusting... Evanovich's sex book as she has called it is a dud! It is not what the readers wanted to see. The sad old tired triangle needed to be put to rest after book 12.The series should have ended after book 12 if this is what the author thinks her writers want. No character development, no story line and aren't we all lucky part two will be out in November. Evanovich is stuck on her past accomplishments, hasn't written a good Plum book since twelve and I doubt there will be a good one again. I expect to see Snookie turning up to be Stpehanie's new BFF if Evanovich has her way.

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  7. I read it on my Kindle - and was so disappointed I requested a refund. Evanovich has decimated her characters. There was a quasi plot / mystery but too easy to figure out. The potty humor from the previous lack luster books was gone - but so were the wonderful laughs from the first books.

    All in all this is a 'borrow to read book' not a book to buy, read, and keep to re-read. I was sorry I wasted my hard earned money.

    I'm a Babe - but I'm not looking for a quickee between Ranger and Steph - I want the seduction, the growth in a personal relationship - they don't have to be a couple they just have to have potential of being a couple.

    I never will understand Steph's attraction to Joe just because of the back story presented by Evanovich but he was definitely not the character from previous books - neither the nice Joe with an attitude nor the Irate Italian with hand gestures.

    Personally, this book felt like JE phoned it in, with no consideration of who her characters are - she wrote 'the sex book' and that is literally what this is a book with a few unworthy sex scenes and little else -

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  8. This is the first book since Twelve Sharp that I can hear Janet Evanovich's voice in the writing. It hasn't been there except for a brief bit in Finger Licking Fifteen. While JE appears to be back, it's not the same JE that so many of her fans and readers came to love in books 1-12 of the series.

    Smokin' Seventeen is an improvement over books 14-16, but not enough of an improvement. The plot is tepid, but then JE's plots have never been particularly inventive or complex. The bad guy virtually had a neon sign over his head saying, "Yep, I'm the bad guy", for all the obvious hints he dropped. The characters still didn't ring true to me but they have improved from the prior three books.

    I agree with other reviewers on this site, save your hard-earned cash. Smokin’ Seventeen is a book that you borrow to read, not buy to read.

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  9. I was so excited to read this book, the other story lines were intetresting but I completely agree with your comments about Ranger and Morelli. When I read this it made me so mad, I was about ready to stop reading it all together. Stephanie comes across as stupid and airheaded. I'm a total cupcake - and what she did to Morelli in the book makes me think he can do so much better. Blaming a curse for her sleeping around was petty and a ridiculous way for her to not feel guilty about cheating on Morelli. The first time she slept with Ranger, I could accept it, they were broken up. But now they aren't. She has no right to get pissy and jealous when Joe talks about Terry....if shes going to play the jealous girlfriend, don't be such a hypocrite! I think maybe Janet was told to sex up the story but this is crazy. I won't be as eager to read 18.

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  10. Smokin' seventeen was sadly lacking compared to the earlier Stephanie Plum books.

    Check out my review of it here:
    http://readingwhiledreaming.blogspot.com/2011/09/smokin-seventeen-review.html

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  11. I AM A RANGER AND STEPHANIE COUPLE FAN! I FEEL LIKE HER AND JOE ARE JUST HOLDING ON TO A CHILDHOOD PUPPY LOVE AND TRUE FRIENDSHIP. THAT'S WHY THEY CAN'T AGREE TO GET MARRIED. BUT I WAS HIGHLY DISAPPOINTED IN HOW JE CHEAPENED HER RELATIONSHIP WITH RANGER AND JUST BASICLY MADE HIM HER DILDO. THAT MADE ME WANT TO STOP READING THE BOOK! BUT LIKE ANY TRUE FAN TILL THE END I HELD OUT HOPE THAT SHE WOULD GROW UP THE REST OF THE CHARACTERS AND THE BOOK WOULD BE BETTER THAN BOOKS 13-16. THE ONLY CHARACTER THAT HAS GROWN AND CHANGED IS RANGER'S CHARACTER WHO WENT FROM JUST A BOUNTY HUNTER, EX STREET THUG, EX SPECIAL FORCES TO A BUSINESS MAN WITH A COPORATION. BUT I HATE TO SEE HIS CHARACTER KEEP HANGING AROUND TRENTON WAITING FOR STEPHANIE TO GROW UP. THIS ENTIRE PLOT HAS TURNED TO STRONG MALE CHARACTERS TO WIMPS AND STEPHANIE'S CHARACTER TO A DUMB BIMBO! JOE SHOULD WIND UP WITH TERRY BECAUSE I THINK THAT'S ALWAYS BEEN IN THE BACK OF MY MIND SINCE HER CHARACTER WAS INTRODUCED.

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  12. I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED WITH LULA AND TANK? I FEEL LIKE THAT STORY JUST STOPPED WITH NO TRUE ENDING WITH TOO IMPORTANT SUPPORTING CHARACTERS!

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Thank you for your comments!

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