Tag: Movie Adaptation

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Posted March 8, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 10 Comments

Norwegian Wood by Haruki MurakamiTitle: Norwegian Wood (Goodreads)
Author: Haruki Murakami
Translator: Jay Rubin
Published: Vintage, 1987
Pages: 389
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Having just arrived in Hamburg, Germany, 37 year old Toru Watanabe hears an orchestral cover of The Beatles’ song “Norwegian Wood” which reminds him of his college years. In high school his best friend, Kizuki completed suicide and Watanabe moved to Tokyo for college in the hopes to escape the pain. One day he was reunited with Kizuki’s girlfriend Naoko and they sought solitude in each other’s company. However this relationship wasn’t the right solution for Naoko and she left for a secluded mountain sanatorium near Kyoto.

Norwegian Wood is often referred to as the best starting point when diving into the works of Haruki Murakami, mainly because this is one of the few books that don’t have a magical realism thread to it. This is a good place to start but what I find fascinating is the way Murakami uses magical realism to explore ideas of the mind. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage and Norwegian Wood don’t have that same fantastical style but they still follow similar themes. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki looks at the psychological impacts of losing friendships, while this novel looks at ideas of memory. From what I have read so far, Murakami’s other books do similar things but the use of magical realism allows him to dive into the mind and explore it as a fantastical world.

I have heard Norwegian Wood described as a coming of age story so many times, but I find it difficult to classify this book as such; for the simple fact that Toru Watanabe is 37 years on at the start of the novel, even though the majority of the novel is set during his college years. I think this is more a reflection on life and love, a novel that explores ideas of memory and nostalgia through themes like loss, depression and sexuality. This leads me to wonder just how reliable Watanabe really is and if there is a ‘rose coloured glasses’ perception happening in the novel. However the way this novel comes together and deals with memory (especially at the end) works so well and I can understand why Norwegian Wood is a Haruki Murakami favourite for many people.

One thing that really stuck with me with Norwegian Wood is the way Murakami developed characters. I found most characters to be complex and well rounded, they all had a unique personality and it was such a joy to read something with such great character development. A favourite of mine was Midori, who reminds me a lot of my wife; a confident and sure character who is at times insecure but has a great interest in talking about sex with others. She was the highlight of the whole novel and I always looked forward to her turning up within the story.

Before I knew who Haruki Murakami was, I saw the 2010 Japanese movie adaptation and thankfully I forgot most of the story. While images and plot points did come back to me as I read the novel, I was glad I didn’t have that outside influence but now I do need to re-watch the movie. Norwegian Wood is a great starting place if you have never read Haruki Murakami before. Apparently Murakami isn’t too happy that this is the novel that people will read or recognise him by, but it really is one of his stand out books. I have so many more Murakami books to read and I am really looking forward to diving into them all.


Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré

Posted January 30, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Book of the Month, Thriller / 0 Comments

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréTitle: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Goodreads)
Author: John le Carré
Series: George Smiley #5
Published: Sceptre, 2009
Pages: 422
Genres: Thriller
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is my second John le Carré novel, the first being The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (which I may need to read again). I remember never really feeling the need to go out and read some more, which would have been a huge mistake. My reasoning for reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was mainly came from the need to have the book read before seeing the movie adaption. John le Carré does a great job writing complex spy plots, but sometimes it gets too confusing and makes it hard to keep up.

The story follows George Smiley (le Carré’s most famous protagonist), a retired intelligence officer working for MI6 (often referred to as “The Circus”) on a quest to discover a mole within the organisation. The characters in the book are so well written, I had to admire the way they all seem so secretive and full of mystery. This is what I expect from a spy novel and John le Carré does a brilliant job in handling them on paper. There is a fine line in how to handle characters like this; too much one way they feel over the top and cheesy and too much the other the mystery will be gone.

The complexity of a novel like this does cause a bit of an issue but in the end isn’t that what you really want? With the twists and turns, you are left never really sure what everyone’s motivations are. John le Carré has a way of under developing characters but never in a way you are annoyed by it; the idea is to keep so much of someone’s character a mystery, with inconsistences that it makes them feel like a real spy. It’s an interesting technique, one that wouldn’t work in most other genres.

Have to give John le Carré credit for the way he builds atmosphere, in a complex plot with numerous characters he still manages to bring a glimpse of London life. Not being to London before, I couldn’t tell you how realistic his depiction is but it feels real. Another thing he does really well is dialogue, nothing feels forced or fake; it all feels seamless and natural.

Now the movie adaptation of this film was particularly interesting. Having read the book beforehand, I really enjoyed it. I had an idea of what was going on, but my wife didn’t, she struggled with the plot. Personally I think overly complex plots make for better spy movies and books, but I think it really helped to have read the book before seeing this adaptation. It was a faithful and enjoyable movie full of all you expect from the book and Benedict Cumberbatch with bad hair.

I’m not going to rush out and read a John le Carré novel anytime soon, but I will come back to him at a later date. I did enjoy this novel; I just feel that the complexity makes it a very difficult book to read. I will have to take my time with his novels, but I’m excited to see what happens in his other books. I’m not sure where to start, do I just read a recommendation, start at the start of the series or just check out his latest book?


High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Posted November 11, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 4 Comments

High Fidelity by Nick HornbyTitle: High Fidelity (Goodreads)
Author: Nick Hornby
Published: Penguin, 1995
Pages: 245
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Rob Fleming is a thirty something London record store owner who has just lost his girlfriend Laura. Rob recalls his five most memorable break ups and then proceeds to get in touch with these girls in order to find out why they all ended up leaving him. Over at Championship Vinyl, Rob and his employees Dick and Barry spend their time demonstrating their vast music knowledge and constructing top five lists for every situation imaginable.

I really loved the movie High Fidelity, one of my favourites for a long time. So I’ve always meant to read the book and I finally got myself a copy. I devoured the book, faster than I expected. The book and the movie are very similar with not many noticeable differences, I was really happy about that. Problem with seeing the movie first is the fact that I keep picturing John Cusack, Iben Hjejle and every character. The only character I couldn’t remember was Ian and I imagined Peter Serafinowicz instead of Tim Robbins.

The only Nick Hornby movie I’ve read prior to High Fidelity was Juliet, Naked and I really didn’t get on to well with it. I was worried that I might have similar problems with this novel. Likely everything think I loved about the movie, comes from the book. The quirky nature, the themes and all those top five lists. Makes me want to watch the movie all over again. Weird but I prefer the movie, John Cusack is a great actor and I think it works better with the aid of audio and visual stimulation.

The thing I loved High Fidelity is the whole self-discovery plot. Rob Fleming begins the novel telling us about his top five breakups and how Laura didn’t hurt him as much as the others. This leads him to contact these five women and find out why everyone leaves him. What he discovered was the opposite and he learns more about himself than expected. The novel ends with not happiness but a deeper understanding of himself and what he must do to achieve a better life.

His love is so centred around his passion for music; he has to learn how to balance his life better. For music lovers, especially those who have an understanding in 80’s and 90’s music should appreciate this novel. For a romantic comedy, Hornby has this unique way of taking the genre that’s demographic is women and writing it with the male reader in mind.

If you liked the movie, then I’m not sure you really need to read the book. If you loved it, like I did then why not experience it in its original format (it’s like the Vinyl vs. CD debate). While it is very similar to the movie it was an enjoyable experience, one I would repeat sometime. It is a short novel so there is no real reason not to read it, except the movie is less time consuming.


The Third Man by Graham Greene

Posted August 29, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic, Thriller / 0 Comments

The Third Man by Graham GreeneTitle: The Third Man (Goodreads)
Author: Graham Greene
Narrator: Martin Jarvis
Published: Penguin, 1943
Pages: 180
Genres: Classic, Thriller
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

American western writer Rollo Martins arrives in Post-World War II Vienna at the request of his childhood friend, Harry Lime. Lime has a job for him but when Martins arrives, he soon finds out that his friend has died. Convinced that Harry Lime’s death was no accident, Martins starts his own investigation, which leads him on a hunt to find the other witness, The Third Man.

If you are a loyal listener of The Readers or follow Simon Savidge’s blog or twitter you may know he recently lost his grandmother. To pay tribute to the memory of Dorothy Savidge he has asked people to read something by Graham Greene, as he was her favourite author. Greene for Gran (or on twitter #GreeneForGran) was born and I took this as an opportunity to try my first Graham Greene book, as well as join in this beautiful memorial to a fellow book lover.

Now The Third Man is an interesting book; it is actually written in preparation to writing the screenplay to what will become a film noir classic. Graham Greene wrote this novella and then converted it into the screenplay. I’m not sure how or why the original novella ended up being published but I suspect that the huge success of the movie may have had something to do with it. So when reading The Third Man you are basically reading the novelisation of the movie; everything is exactly the same.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, the movie was fantastic but then again I’m a fan of Orson Welles (Citizen Kane is the greatest movie of all time) so I might be biased. Who am I kidding, it’s not bias; The Third Man is a classic film noir movie and if you haven’t seen it then you are missing out. It’s hard to review a novella that is exactly the same as the movie, there may not be any point to reading the book if you can watch the movie but I wanted to see how Graham Greene wrote and I think I’m a fan.

What I found fascinating about the novella was the fact that the entire story is told from the perspective of Major Calloway and not the Rollo Martins. Just a quick side note here Rollo Martins name was changed to Holly Martins in the movie just in case you thought I made a mistake there. So I look back at the movie and try to imagine The Third Man from the perspective of Calloway and it just doesn’t seem right, but it works really well for the book. Just another example of what a novel can do that film can’t and gives the novella something unique that you wouldn’t get from the movie.

This only took me about an hour to read (I read slow) and while it is pretty much the exact same thing as the movie, I’m glad I read it. It gave me a sense of Graham Greene’s style and I know what to expect when I try another book (any suggestions). I loved the movie and I think the book is a great companion for fans of The Third Man. Now I want to rewatch the movie, sounds like a good idea right?


The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

Posted August 21, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction / 0 Comments

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael ChabonTitle: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (Goodreads)
Author: Michael Chabon
Narrator: David Colacci
Published: Fourth Estate, 2000
Pages: 659
Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay follows the story of two Jewish cousins. Joe Kavalier is an artist that escapes occupied Czech to America where he meets writer Sam Clay. During the golden age of comics Kavalier and Clay become major players in the industry creating many comic book heroes including The Escapist. The superhero is a Nazi-busting saviour who liberates the oppressed around the world.

I’ve read Michael Chabon before and the thing I really enjoyed about his novels is that they are full of intertextual goodness. With The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, it blends his literary style with elements of alternative history and noir. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay blends with elements of the comic book genre. This is what impresses me the most with Chabon’s style and makes me keen to read The Telegraph Avenue (which I hope blends elements of music into his style). I wonder if all his books are full of intertextuality and will love to find some other novelists that do this; it really works for me but maybe it’s just my love for literary fiction and the genres he blends with it.

There is so much more going on with the novel. The Escapist is used to play out all Kavalier’s fantasies of being a magician/escape artist but he uses the comic books to spread his propaganda towards the Nazis. Most of this novel is set before World War II in America before the world really knew the extent of what the Third Reich were up to. Michael Chabon is a Jewish novelist and his heritage seems important to him and this comes through in his novel.

This novel deals with so many different literary themes; escape from oppression, coming of age, family and relationships. Just writing that sentence makes me think that Chabon might have over done it but really this book comes together beautifully. I don’t often use the terms like magnum opus and tour de force but having read the novel and people’s impressions of this book, it really seems to fit.

Kavalier and Clay become legends in the comic book world and as the world and industry changes, they are repeatedly asked to change and conform but they never compromise. They had a clear message they wanted to say and they refused to change that message. I’m impressed with everything about this book from the blending of comic books and its culture, Jewish mysticism and world history to the character development, proses and my overall opinion of the novel.

If you’ve never read a Michael Chabon novel then I recommend it; I’m not saying start with this novel but look for one with a theme that interests you. Out of the two I’ve read, I’ve been impressed with them both but I have to say The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is masterfully crafted and deserves all the praise it received. I have Telegraph Avenue on the shelf and I’m interested in trying Wonder Boys soon as well. The Escapist was made into a comic by Dark Horse Comics but I think it was part of a promotion for this book. Also the film rights for the book have been sold but with the luck it’s been having I’m doubtful it will ever be made.


The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Posted May 17, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic / 0 Comments

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldTitle: The Great Gatsby (Goodreads)
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published: Scribner, 1925
Pages: 180
Genres: Classic
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Nick Carraway moves in next door to the young and mysterious millionaire, Jay Gatsby. Nick is soon following the dramas of Gatsby’s quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. Often hailed as the “Great American Novel”, F Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus is a portrait of the Jazz Age and the great American dream.

We all know the story, we’ve either been forced to read it in school or we’ve seen the movie, I wanted to reread this in the lead up the terrifying new adaptation by Baz Luhrmann. I remember reading it when I first started become a serious reader and I thought I would look at what I originally wrote and try and dissect and expand on it now that I think I’ve improved in reading critically.

First of all “One of the most interesting aspects of The Great Gatsby is the Point of View”, while this has probably been covered many times by people I will just cover this off again. Carraway tells the story of a group of destructive personalities but first you have to understand Nick before trying to understand the others.

Without going into anything controversial by claiming Nick Carraway was bisexual and in love with Jay Gatsby, let’s just say he idolised him. A Yale graduate, World War I veteran and relatively well off (inherited money), Carraway moves in next door to the charismatic and much talked about Jay Gatsby. But this leads to the question of just what is the relationship between Nick and Gatsby; is Jay using Carraway to get closer to Daisy? I think there friendship was real, Nick envied the person Jay was and he in return grew fond of Carraway.

The book does a decent job at shedding light on the egotistical, desire driven tendencies of human nature.” While this is true I think to expand on this you really need to look at what F Scott Fitzgerald was trying to do with this book, and to do that we must first look at the colour scheme (weird I know). There are two primary colours that play an essential role in this book. Firstly, green, the light over the river on the East Egg dock. The representation of Gatsby’s hopes and dreams, the green light represents the American dream. This would be considered objectification, that Gatsby believes that his American dream is to have Daisy.

The other major colour in this book is Gold or Yellow, the symbol of wealth and beauty. I think Yellow and Gold play as much of a significant role as the green light. This is true American goal; wealth and beauty, to be able to live without a care in the world. This is what I think Fitzgerald was trying to show us; like I said in my original review of this novel, these people are egotistical and desire driven and I think the author wanted us to see that. The problem with a carefree life is the fact that you don’t care about anything other than yourself and you don’t realise just how destructive that can be.

Carraway starts out starry eyed towards high society but slowly becomes more and more uncomfortable with the unrestrained materialism and lack of morality that comes with it.” I think that Carraway found himself sucked into high society and captivated by the presence of Gatsby. While in some respects he remains an outsider, he tries desperately to fit in and pursue the idea of the American Dream. The Great Gatsby tries to highlight the decline of this so called American dream, which originally was about discovery, uniqueness, and the pursuit of happiness but in the 1920s it seemed to decline and represent easy money and a social of leisure.

F. Scott Fitzgerald paints a unique literary picture of the time and life style, with interesting, snooty and slightly annoying characters.” I will admit that I sigh every time I read this sentence. Why was I the type of person that wanted likeable characters? Just because I hate these people, doesn’t mean that the book isn’t great and that they don’t have anything significant to teach. These people are supposed to be unlikeable, Fitzgerald isn’t trying to show us how great high society is; he wants to point out the flaws and what he sees as the decline of the American dream.

Everyone seems so self-absorbed and never think of each other; which helped drive the story beautifully.” We can probably argue if this really is the great American novel or even the great Jazz age novel. I know a lot of people hated this novel but I think there is so much this book can teach us and it’s less than 200 pages. F Scott Fitzgerald did a brilliant job of layering everything on top of each other that I feel the need to read this book again (already) just to see what I might pull out of it this time.

Someday I would like to do a post about motifs because there are so many recurring themes in the book, I think this would be a perfect novel to explore the idea of what a motif is. I read all the reviews from people that hate this book and I feel like I want to use that dreaded saying, “I don’t think you got what this book is trying to do”. But I hope this helps understand what this book really is about; while pointing out what you think I got wrong.

I reread this novel in anticipation of the new adaptation, which I’m scared about; I remember the old movie and think it failed to capture the true essence of this novel. This leads to two questions I want to ask the readers; “Is The Great Gatsby unfilmable?” and “Was Gatsby truly great?”.  I know my answers, so I’ll be interested to see what others think. I’m surprised how much fun I had dissecting my original thoughts and expanding on them.

 


Savages by Don Winslow

Posted January 14, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Pulp / 0 Comments

Savages by Don WinslowTitle: Savages (Goodreads)
Author: Don Winslow
Series: Savages #1
Published: Simon & Schuster, 2011
Pages: 302
Genres: Pulp
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Don Winslow’s Savages starts off with one of the most memorable opening chapters I’ve read; which simply said “Fuck you”. These two words set up the feel of this novel really well. Chon and Ben are weed growers in Laguna Beach, California; their product is top of the range. Ben is the botanist that looks after their marijuana and business; Chon looks after the problems. Then there is O; their girlfriend. When the Baja Cartel takes interest in their product, things are bound to get Savage.

I’ve had this book on my radar for a while but since the Oliver Stone adaptation has been released I made sure I read the book before seeing the movie. This is savage noir, full of quick chapters and in the words of Don Winslow; baditude. Snappy dialogue, noirish themes and the dark gritty plot is what makes this novel such a thrill to read. But when you mix the quick, straight to the point chapters; you are practically flying through this book at an outrageous speed.

This book doesn’t pull any punches; it’s gruesome and disturbing so makes sense that Oliver Stone wanted to adapt it. While Stone was pretty faithful to the book, I’m a little disappointed in the lack of O’s mother PAQU (Passive Aggressive Queen of the Universe). I really wanted to see what they would do with this character but unfortunately she wasn’t in the movie at all. It’s like Stone has cut most of the first half of the book and went straight for the point; the kidnapping of O. Also the DEA turncoat seems to have a much larger role in the movie which turned out rather well (simply because this role was played by John Travolta). Finally don’t get me started with the less than tragic ending; typical Hollywood.

The book works well because of the angst and mental back and forth that was conveyed; particularly with Ben. But the movie just goes for the savage violent point and it is gruesome to watch. Personally I much prefer the book, the wit and insight of Winslow just didn’t translate and the movie just felt more like violence for the sake of violence.

In the end, read the book; experience the style and wit of Don Winslow, because this was the best part. If you want to see the movie, maybe do it as a way to see what Hollywood does to a movie adaptation; while less tragic, it was more sardonic. I enjoyed the book but when it came to the movie I think they took it a little too far. But maybe that is just caused by the visual aspects of watching the violence.

 


Mystic River by Dennis Lehane

Posted October 26, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime / 0 Comments

Mystic River by Dennis LehaneTitle: Mystic River (Goodreads)
Author: Dennis Lehane
Published: William Morrow, 2001
Pages: 401
Genres: Crime
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Dave, Sean and Jimmy where childhood friends, but things changed when Dave gets into a stranger’s car and the others don’t. Twenty five years later all three are completely differently people.  Sean is a detective, Jimmy is an ex-convict and Dave is just a shell of a man; never quite recovering from the emotionally scarring events of his past. Their lives come together again when Jimmy’s daughter is found brutally murdered, Dave returns home covered in blood and Sean is put on the case to find who killed Jimmy’s daughter.

Mystic River is a psychological thriller that never really felt right. Not to take anything away from Dennis Lehane; while this is the first book of his that I’ve read I think he has the talent to write dark, noir-ish psychological thrillers but maybe this is a bad example of his ability. The book opens with the childhood and Dave being abducted by the child molester, which while a terrible thing to happen it didn’t feel like Lehane hit the mark with the attempt to be dark and disturbing with this situation. Then the book seemed to drag on and on until the book finally started to pick up pace about half way through.

When it comes to the crime, I found it rather weird that they would assign the case to someone that knows the victim’s father. Sure it was twenty five years ago but to me it still felt like a conflict. Sure I don’t know too much about police procedure but to me that just doesn’t seem right. Overall, this book didn’t feel dark enough, the writer did seem to make it a dark thriller but I felt like it never got there and fell more into the area of predictable. When I read a psychological thriller, I expect a complicated and twisted story and I don’t think I got it here.

The book was entertaining and I’m glad to have read it but it wasn’t something I would recommend anyone else read. I hope Dennis Lehane’s other books are a lot better because while I can see what Mystic River is trying to achieve I think it fell too short. I think the emotions within this novel were too flat and this was the overall problem. I’ve not seen the movie but I wonder if the tension and emotion worked within it since this adaptation was well received.


Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Posted October 18, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literary Fiction, Science Fiction / 0 Comments

Cloud Atlas by David MitchellTitle: Cloud Atlas (Goodreads)
Author: David Mitchell
Published: Random House, 2004
Pages: 529
Genres: Literary Fiction, Science Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Cloud Atlas is a really difficult book to review; it starts off as a Journal circa 1850 documenting a voyage home from the Chatham Islands, then it’s a series of letters from a 1930’s English musician to a Belgian composer, then a journalist from 1975 investigating for a novel that will blow the whistle on a new nuclear power plant , a 21st century publisher is fleeing from gangsters in a  movie dramatization, a dystopian future story told from genetically-engineered clone’s perspective and finally the post-apocalyptic future where technology is all wiped out. Confusing? Well this book does all come together to make Cloud Atlas a truly interesting book to read but I don’t think it worked as intended.

I think author David Mitchell is too clever for his own good in this book. The stories do all come together and he really shows off by writing each section in the best genre style to suit what is happening but he is just doing too much in this book. I feel like I’m just starting to get invested in the story of one protagonist and then Mitchell jumps to the next one without any sense of resolution. Sure he does return to each story a second time around but by then I feel like it’s too late for me.

David Mitchell really flexes his literary muscles in the book and he is a wonderful writer but there is so much happening and I never felt like he achieved what he was hoping for. I’m not sure cutting from six to three or four story arcs would have helped the book but it might have helped the reader become more invested. I particularly liked the thriller style of the investigative journalist and that gangster story line of the publisher but when their story is just getting exciting it’s all over and we have to move on to the next one.

Cloud Atlas is an interesting, clever book but this doesn’t make it a good book; I enjoyed parts of it and other parts infuriated me. I will say I’m glad to have read it before the movie adaptation is released but it’s not something I ever want to revisit again. I get that he is trying to do a novel about evolution or reincarnation; as each protagonist bares the same birth mark but that element of the book never really went anywhere. I know some people really love this book but I felt like it was too much of a show off. I’d like to read a David Mitchell book where he sticks to one genre instead of all of them.


Guest Post: Venting about Stephanie Plum

Posted October 15, 2012 by jus_de_fruit in Guest Posts / 0 Comments

Outside of the fantasy genre, I’m not sure if there are many series of books that have last as long as Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich. Currently at 18 books, I assume there is more to come.

I found this series after high school sometime. I don’t remember how I first got into it, but I started at Hot Six.  I loved Stephanie and quickly sought out the beginning of the series, and bought the rest as they became available.

Stephanie Plum was fun and witty. She was trying to find her place in the world amidst her troubles with work, her well-meaning family and trying to decide which man was right for her. She felt like someone I could relate to, because she wasn’t that different to me, except that her car was blown up and her life was a bit more interesting because of that.

The series started in 1995 with One for the Money, so the series has now spanned 17 years. Perhaps Stephanie is in some sort of time warp where she doesn’t age. Perhaps it’s like the Simpsons; when that show first started I was the same age as Bart, and as I’ve grown up, he hasn’t. Maybe that’s what happened with Stephanie. Perhaps she’s still in her early 20s. I’m not sure. I don’t know if there have been any mention of birthdays.

I just finished Smokin’ Seventeen. I no longer feel the need to race out as soon as the book is released and devour it the day I buy it. This one has been sitting in my house for over a year and I just never got around to it. Explosive Eighteen has also been out for a while, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever read it.

Since I started reading the series, I have suffered through a few disappointing jobs before finding my dream job; had my fair share of relationship drama before getting married; had a continually changing relationship with my parents as they begin to respect me more as an adult and not just as their child.  I don’t think my life is any less boring because of that, and I don’t think it would hurt to see something like that happen in this series.

Stephanie is still in the same place. Still in the same love triangle, still in the same job despite all her complaints, still causing her parents stress as she continually has her life threatened.  Maybe she doesn’t like being a bounty hunter, but surely at some point, she could get some firearm training so she isn’t so afraid to take her gun out of the cookie jar.  As interesting a choice Morelli and Ranger make, surely at some point her friends have to let her know to stop playing them. If it takes this long for you to choose who you want, perhaps neither of them are for you.

I defended the series for too long. So many people said that it had become boring, but I stuck at it for a while. Now it feels like I’m saying goodbye to an old friend whose life is just taking a different path to me.  She’s stuck in a place that I’ve long moved on from. It used to be charming, but now it’s tiresome.

I would love to see some growth from Stephanie Plum, and if Janet Evanovich was to write it, I’d probably be drawn back into the series, but for now, I think I’m done.

This is a guest post by Mary; not only is she my wonderful wife, she is also my editor and helps moderate the Literary Exploration group on Goodreads. Big thanks to her for this post and everything she does to help me with this blog.