How Stephanie Plum Lost Her Sizzle

Day 01 – A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would just freaking end already (or both!)

I love the Stephanie Plum books. I love everything about them – I love the flawed and (mostly) unapologetic heroine, I love the quirky and colourful supporting characters, I love the two tall, dark & sexy men in her life, and I love her deeply awesome Grandma Mazur with her funeral obsession and her sawn off shotgun. I love the fact that she can’t keep a car for more than three days without it exploding.

I read once that Evanovich said basically that Steph would always be in her early 30’s and Grandma would never die, which I was quite happy about, because these books do make me feel safe and cuddly.

But, you know, but.

We’re sixteen books in now, and while Finger-licking Fifteen managed to feel fresh and entertaining to me, Sizzling Sixteen failed to launch. We’ve reached serious stasis time. I have been turning it over in my head, trying to figure out why this one out of sixteen freaking volumes is the one that made me go meh. I still read it at a breakneck pace, I still enjoyed the experience. The lack of change is starting to wear on me a bit – for every hint of moving forward there are two steps back, and ultimately the books are chasing their own tail.

In particular, the romantic elements are starting to irritate me. It was obvious from the start that Morelli, the slightly more tamed bad boy, was completely the perfect guy for Stephanie. Ranger, the badder boy who is completely untamed, was a wistful fantasy. (naturally I ship her with Ranger – I always go against canon) The trouble is, Steph and Morelli just fit too well together, so Evanovich has had to employ all kinds of complex machinations to keep them apart. I can buy Stephanie’s fear of commitment, and quite like the fact that he’s the one who wants to settle down and she doesn’t, but it has dragged on so long now that the whole thing is getting tiresome. The books have been following a pattern of getting them back together regularly and then splitting them up again off screen due to random domestic fights. It makes both of them a lot less likeable, and seems to be entirely set up to allow Stephanie to run off with Ranger for sexy interludes, mostly guilt free. Not that I object to the Ranger interludes, it just is starting to feel like all the characters are in orbit, waiting for the last book to arrive so they can all get some closure.

There was a lot of talk recently about how Janet Evanovich has left St Martin’s Press after they refused to pay 50 million dollars as an advance on her next four books. Most people I have seen reacting to this seem to think that Evanovich (or more likely, her agent) was asking far too much. I would respectfully suggest that those people have probably not realised quite how huge Janet Evanovich is. She has not only produced sixteen straight-to-bestseller-lists Stephanie Plum books at the rate of one per year since 1994, but all of those books are still in print, and still selling. Financially, I don’t see why she wouldn’t be worth it, especially (and I mean ESPECIALLY) if it was a retirement plan – not just for Evanovich, but definitely for Stephanie Plum.

I don’t know what was included in that proposed 50 million deal, but what I would really REALLY have liked to see was those contracted 4 books be the last in the Stephanie Plum series. With four volumes to go and a proper end point drawn, Evanovich could have taken all those hints and bits and pieces about Stephanie’s future and actually driven the series to a crashing, brilliant conclusion, rather than just lurching from book to book, the way it currently feels now. One of the cleverest and most admirable things that JK Rowling did was to put a cap on the Harry Potter madness and to stick to it, despite the fact that she would have made so many more millions if she had cracked and decided to write “one more” or another series in the same world. I think it’s time to lay Stephanie Plum properly to rest, before too many more of the fans start wandering away from the car crash.

30 Days of Books [created by [info] alg here]

Day 01 – A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would just freaking end already (or both!)
Day 02 – A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about
Day 03 – The best book you’ve read in the last 12 months
Day 04 – Your favorite book or series ever
Day 05 – A book or series you hate
Day 06 – Favorite book of your favorite series OR your favorite book of all time
Day 07 – Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise
Day 08 – A book everyone should read at least once
Day 09 – Best scene ever
Day 10 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 11 – A book that disappointed you
Day 12 – A book or series of books you’ve watched more than five times
Day 13 – Favorite childhood book OR current favorite YA book (or both!)
Day 14 – Favorite character in a book (of any sex or gender)
Day 15 – Your “comfort” book
Day 16 – Favorite poem or collection of poetry
Day 17 – Favorite story or collection of stories (short stories, novellas, novelettes, etc.)
Day 18 – Favorite beginning scene in a book
Day 19 – Favorite book cover (bonus points for posting an image!)
Day 20 – Favorite kiss
Day 21 – Favorite romantic/sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)
Day 22 – Favorite non-sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)
Day 23 – Most annoying character ever
Day 24 – Best quote from a novel
Day 25 – Any five books from your “to be read” stack
Day 26 – OMG WTF? OR most irritating/awful/annoying book ending
Day 27 – If a book contains ______, you will always read it (and a book or books that contain it)!
Day 28 – First favorite book or series obsession
Day 29 – Saddest character death OR best/most satisfying character death (or both!)
Day 30 – What book are you reading right now?

7 replies on “How Stephanie Plum Lost Her Sizzle”

  1. Kaia says:

    I’m going have to do this. Damn it.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by fangbooks, Tansy Rayner Roberts. Tansy Rayner Roberts said: 30 days in books meme! Day 1 – a series you wish would end already […]

  3. tansyrr says:

    Kaia: I look on it as a blissful 30 days of not having to think about things to blog about!

  4. Sock says:

    Personally, I’m holding out hope that Stephanie will ditch Morelli and marry Ranger. Like you said, they’re boring together, and the back and forth makes them both look like selfish idiots. I say cut the apron strings, give Morelli someone new, and let them both grow. They may grow together, they may grow apart, but either way is better than what we’ve got going on now.

    I also think the stagnation comes in part because there’s never any continuity. Stephanie accepts a job for Ranger in one book, then in the next book she needs money so she accepts a job from Ranger, and then in the next book she needs money so she accepts a job from Ranger… And then there’s the on and off with Morelli. They’re broken up, then back together, then broken up… why not carry over the fact that she sometimes works fro Ranger and let that play out? Why not let her stay off with Morelli for a couple of books in a row? It feels like groundhog’s day. Or worse, like playing the very first Nintendo system, where every time you die, you go back to level 1-1, no matter how far you were. That gets boring after a while.

    As for Evanovich’s deal… Publishing accounting is hard to explain, but it’s like this. Say you have six checking accounts. Four of them are making money. Two of them are in the red. It doesn’t matter how much money you have in the first four. If the two in the red are in the red, they’re in the red. Evanovich sells a lot of books. Her books 1-13 make a lot of money. But her publisher lost money on the last two, and is probably losing money on this one. her last deal also included only 2 plum books. The other 2 books were Diesel books. I imagine this new deal was set the same way. That kind of money on an unproven series (the Unmentionable books aren’t even released yet and already the feedback is that they are not good) is a bad move for hte publisher. She would get her money, sure, but they would never see a dime of theirs. That’s a lot of money to throw away.

  5. Marianne de Pierres says:

    I think it must be time for all those readers to move on to the Tara Sharp novels- don’t you think 🙂

  6. tansyrr says:

    Sock: thanks so much for this insight into the Evanovich deal from a publishing perspective! It will be interesting to see which publisher takes her on next.

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