Book Review: Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich hit the shelves Nov. 22. At my local library there were over 430 people on the wait list for this book. Why? To find the answer to a question that is bigger than “Who shot J.R.?” WHO did Stephanie invite to go along on her vacation? Ranger or Morelli?

Warning: SPOILER ALERT!!! There will be spoilers in this review.

The book opens with Stephanie arriving back in New Jersey from her Hawaiian vacation. Alone. The big question isn’t answered right away and the mystery is added to when Grandma Mazur notices a tan line on Stephanie’s ring finger. Did Stephanie get married in Hawaii? To WHO? Man the suspense is almost killing me.

For readers hoping for a definitive answer to the Ranger vs. Morelli question, I’m afraid that Explosive Eighteen is not going to give you the satisfaction you’re wanting. Morelli was invited to go but couldn’t because of work. Stephanie goes alone but runs into a big dollar skip on the Big Island and needs help collaring him. Of course she calls Ranger to come help with the arrest and they discover the skip is staying in an exclusive “Married Only” resort. Lots of sex ensues until Morelli shows up to surprise Stephanie and punches Ranger. A fight breaks out, the skip takes off and Stephanie follows the skip leaving Ranger and Morelli in an ER getting patched up from their brawl.

Once back in New Jersey, Explosive Eighteen follows the same formula as previous Plum books. Stephanie and Lula are still incompetent, still a little funny. I admit, there were a few chuckle out loud spots which is a big improvement over Smoking Seventeen. The writing style felt very different as well, choppier and faster paced, and some of the dialog seemed out of character to me. I’m wondering if Evanovich has passed off the writing to a ghost collaborator while she works on her other series – Diesel and a new (openly) collaborative romantic suspense due out January 3, 2012 – Love in a Nutshell.

If you are looking for Stephanie to do any deep soul searching about her love life, her lack of skill at bounty hunting, or show any personal growth at all, you will be disappointed in Explosive Eighteen. Janet Evanovich has stated that she doesn’t see any reason why the Stephanie Plum series can’t go on for as many books as Evanovich cares to write, similar to the Nancy Drew series where the characters never age. I don’t know that I would enjoy that, the books between 13 and 18 have seemed tired. What do you think?

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
I wouldn’t waste my money on this one, borrow it from a friend or the library.

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