Review: Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

Explosive Eighteen hardback cover
Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich
Series: Stephanie Plum (# 18)
Release Date: November 22, 2011
Publisher: Bantam
Pages: 320 pages, or 5 CDs
Source:  audio book from library

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 Hawaii to Newark, she’s knee deep in trouble. Her dream vacation turned into a nightmare, and she’s flying back to New Jersey solo. 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. And a ragtag collection of thugs and psychos, not to mention the FBI, are all looking for a photograph the dead man was supposed to be carrying.

Only one other person has seen the missing photo—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 things are going from bad to worse. The bonds bus serving as Vinnie’s temporary HQ goes up in smoke. Stephanie’s wheelman, Lula, falls in love with their largest skip 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.

Review:  I’ll start this off by saying that there are possible spoilers coming…

I’ve been reading this series for years and I used to devour the books as fast as I could, but these days I wonder why I even bother.  In the beginning, I loved the freshness of the characters, the situations that Stephanie found herself in and even the love triangle between Morelli, Ranger and Stephanie.

But around book 9 or so, the freshness wore off and I felt I kept getting a rehashing of the same old story.  We know there’s going to be a car mishap in each story (it’s usually an explosion).  Stephanie is still inept, won’t use her gun, can’t seem to manage a tazer, and runs to Ranger for help in capturing her easy skips.  Lula continues to get more and more outrageous and is as inept as Stephanie.  And then there’s Stephanie’s inability to choose between Morelli and Ranger and they just seem to accept the fact that she’s sleeping with them both and not pushing for a decision.

Here’s my problem.  I keep coming back to this series expecting more.  Expecting growth.  And every time, I come away mad that I wasted time on this series because it’s not there.  At this point, I don’t even bother BUYING the books.  I rely on the library to support my unsatisfying Stephanie Plum fix.  And imagine my disappointment when I got the audio book from the library and it was only 5 discs long.  I was able to listen to it in one day at work… and often found myself tuning out because I felt like I’d heard it before.

The only thing preventing this book from getting only 1 star is that I did have a few laugh out loud moments and thought the basic plot was promising.  Too bad the execution of it was lackluster and more often than not, I was shaking my head and questions why I was even bothering.  Like many other one-time fans, I think it’s time that Evanovich either breathes new life into the series by seriously shaking things up or she needs to wrap it up.  She’ll no longer be making money from me as I refuse to buy these books anymore.

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