Monday, August 18, 2014

Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich: A review

(Note: This summer I'm posting some of my old book reviews here - reviews that were published on Goodreads but never before here. This one appeared on Goodreads on August 4, 2009 as I was beginning to fall out of love with the Stephanie Plum series.)

Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15)Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So what's with Evanonvich's sudden obsession with farts?  And why is it that only one of her characters performs this most human of functions?  It seems like on every third page of this book Lula lets go another big one.  Always Lula.  Obviously, it is supposed to be hilarious.  Now if RANGER let go a big one, that would be truly hilarious!  Oh, I forgot.  Ranger is perfect.  He doesn't fart.

And herein lies my problem with this book.  Yes, it is another quick, funny trip through the whacked-out landscape of the underbelly of Trenton as seen through the eyes of Stephanie Plum.  It has all the touches we've come to expect.  Stephanie and Morelli are on the outs so there isn't much hot sex this time - only implied and/or interrupted hot sex with Ranger and/or Morelli.  But everything else is here - the crazy skips, the wacky friends, the insane Grandma, the longsuffering Mom and Pop Plum, the exploding cars.  Still, I found it oddly unsatisfying.

Analyzing it, I decided that the source of my discomfort is the fact that Lula has become the butt (pun intended) of all jokes.  She seems to exist as nothing more than a cartoon character, someone at whom we are supposed to laugh knowingly and indulgently, secure in the knowledge that we would never do anything that buffoonish.

She is a fat, black, loud former prostitute who lives to eat fried chicken and have sex.  In other words, she is a cardboard stereotype of the kind that we see in so many movies and sitcoms.  I understand that these entire books are peopled by stereotypes and that we are not meant to take them seriously.  And yet...I am particularly offended by Lula. Not because I am a fat, black, loud former prostitute who lives for fried chicken and sex, but maybe, mostly, just because we share the same race - human.

I believe most sincerely though that most fat, black, loud former prostitutes have more to them than this series would indicate, and would it kill Evanovich to give this character a little depth?

Oh, well, I suppose I'm spitting in the wind.  As long as these books continue to sell millions of copies and wind up on the top ten of the New York Times best sellers, why should Evanovich change her formula?  I probably wouldn't either.      


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