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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich

No vampires in this series. No werewolves, no ghosts, no fairies, no trolls. The most supernatural thing that happens is Stephanie's intuition when she's on a case.

Well, wait a minute. That's not entirely true. The "between the numbers" books do deal in the supernatural. But the main numbered books do not. Unless you want to consider that Ranger might be more than human, but there has only been one hint of that (Diesel and Ranger apparently know of each other, and how would that be unless... or, maybe not.)

At any rate, the "between the numbers" books were basically just holiday books and really aren't worth reading. So for all intents and purposes, the main part of the series does not deal in the supernatural.

Stephanie Plum starts out unemployed and then becomes a bounty hunter, finding people who skipped out on bail and returning them. As a former lingerie buyer for a department store, she's not really qualified to be a bounty hunter, but she needs the money. Between the gossip she gets from her mother, grandmother, cousins, and friends she manages to pull enough clues together to get her guy (or gal). And when gossip doesn't do it, surveillance and asking questions of strangers and good old women's intuition do it for her. Not to mention dumb luck.

This series has no underlying themes of good vs evil, or the shades of gray in between. Nothing to make you think much about stereotypes. And the kick-ass female isn't often kick-ass, and when she does manage to kick ass, it's usually by accident.

We end up with kind of a love triangle going and Stephanie has two very hot guys in her life. But I can't talk about that without spoiling if you haven't started on the series yet, so that's all I'll say about that.

This series is just an enjoyable read. Entertainment that doesn't make you think too hard, but makes you laugh. A lot. It's kind of the book form of the sitcom.

The biggest thing the series has going for it is that it is funny. Not just LOL funny, but laugh until tears are streaming from your eyes funny. Laugh until you can't breathe and you get lightheaded, funny. Laugh until you have to run to the bathroom so you don't wet yourself, funny.

Much of the humor comes from Stephanie's grandmother. Some of it comes from Stephanie's inability to keep a car. They keep getting blown up, or stolen, or set on fire. It's never her fault, but she just doesn't keep a car for very long. Some of the humor comes from her friends and other family members and various characters she runs across (or who run across her).

I had a hard time getting started on the first book. The first time I read it I didn't finish it. But after a few more recommendations I tried it again and liked the first book okay once I'd gotten a few chapters into it. I'm glad I kept going. It's a really enjoyable series, and the farther you get into it, the better it gets. Even after you've read it, it's something to pull out again if you just need a good laugh.

As I noted before, the 'number' books are the main ones. I haven't even linked to the 'between the number' books, though I did list them at the bottom. If you want me to rate the holiday between the numbers books they get a 2. Don't bother with them. They were ridiculous little holiday novels, they are short and more than a little disappointing when compared to the numbered books, so stick with the numbers.

I've linked to the boxed sets below that include three books at a time, but the individual books are also available if you prefer. The books are written in a way that when you finish one book you want to just pick up the next book and keep going, so the boxed sets are handy for that.

Series Rating: 9

One For the Money (1994)
Two For the Dough (1996)
Three to Get Deadly (1997)
Four to Score (1998)
High Five (1999)
Hot Six (2000)
Seven Up (2001)
Hard Eight (2002)
Visions of Sugar Plums (2003) (don't bother)
To the Nines (2003)
Ten Big Ones (2004)
Eleven on Top (2005)
Twelve Sharp (2006)
Plum Lovin' (2007) (don't bother)
Lean Mean Thirteen (2007)
Plum Lucky(January 2008) (don't bother)
Fearless Fourteen (June 2008)


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