Friday, January 14, 2011

In Defense of Stephanie Plum

I picked One for the Money for my FLICKS Book and Movie Club pick this month as I think the Stephanie Plum series is a light and funny set of books, and more importantly, there is a movie version coming out of One for the Money this summer and since this club likes to get together and go to a movie, I thought this would be a good choice. This particular book club also loves a good love triangle, and what could be better than Stephanie, Ranger, and Joe?

Well, it had been awhile since I had read this book and I had forgotten that the love triangle does not get more developed until later in the series. The Ranger I know and love was only fleetingly shown. I also love Lula and Grandma Mazur, but they only have brief appearances.

One for the Money is a good set-up book for the series in its introduction of Stephanie Plum and her new career as a bounty hunter. Stephanie is a lingerie buyer that has been out of a job for six months. She’s out of money and goes to her cousin Vinnie for a job in his bail bondsmen office as a file clerk. The file clerk position has been filled, so Stephanie instead takes the information on Joe Morelli, a former high school love turn nemesis after he wrote about their romantic encounter on the walls of a bathroom. Morelli is a cop accused of murdering an unarmed man and is on the run. Stephanie wants the large sum (ten grand) that she will get for turning him in to turn her life back around. She learns the ropes from the ultimate man of mystery, Ranger, and has some scary encounters with deranged boxer Benito Ramirez. Will Stephanie capture Morelli?

I must admit, I love book club when a book can get people talking. And the best way to get people talking is if they don’t like a book. Often at book club, we tend to pick books that fall within our comfort zone. I like to read books that I normally wouldn’t pick up and learn about new authors or a new genre that I haven’t read before. I think that book clubs are a perfect opportunity for this. I sometimes try to pick books that are different from the normal reading habits of my book club just for this reason.

While most members of the book club liked One for the Money, one member did not. She hated Stephanie Plum, the tone of the book, and couldn’t finish it. She thought it was just a set up for a movie with great lines, but not realistic. This assessment of the book got me thinking about it and about Stephanie Plum, which is exactly what I like a book club to do.

I realized I have a totally different view of Stephanie Plum. I like Stephanie because she is different from most heroines of novels. She is not a perfect person on a pedestal waiting for a white knight to rescue her. She doesn’t live in a huge mansion with a rich family. She is a flawed person that has an addiction to food, crazy relatives, and is majorly indecisive. She has problems with her bills and is not the world’s best bounty hunter. But through it all Stephanie remains positive. She has brunt honesty about her short comings, family, and friends that I find refreshingly funny. I love the first person narrative structure of the book where you getting thoughts straight from Stephanie. I think that Stephanie is a great real heroine. While Stephanie may find herself in situations that I don’t, she reminds me of some of my friends and would be a fun person to have over for dinner!

My friend also didn’t like Morelli and thought he didn’t get much character development. Here I also must heckle my friend. You didn’t finish the book! Morelli is a man on the run so he is only fleetingly in the beginning of the book when Stephanie is on the look-out for him. They have more time together toward the end of the book and I thought the ending was pretty romantic myself . . . but Morelli is a man’s man and romance to him may be eating pizza and watching the game!

Overall though, while I harass my friend, I also want to thank her. I like when someone can truthfully admit to not liking a book, can create a good discussion, and can keep me thinking into the night why I do like my book!

After reading One of the Money again, I realized I liked the character additions and developments that happen throughout the series. I must admit though that I think the series peaked at somewhere like book seven or so. The newest books, while they make me laugh, there seems to be no new character development. I would really like the story to keep moving. Have Stephanie finally pick someone!

What do you think? Are you a fan of Stephanie or did you try to read about her and hated her? Please tell me your story! And what do you think of Katherine Heigl as Stephanie? I am not a fan of that casting.

On a side note, this book was written way before a movie was ever thought of. This book was originally published in 1994, which you can tell when they have “car phones” and a lack of cell phones at critical moments. It was funny to read about the lack of technology!

Book Source: I purchased this book at Target.


  1. Now I want to meet Stephanie Plum. She sounds very real. Terrific review, Laura!

  2. I've read the Stephanie Plum books from the beginning and love them. My only *complaint* at this point that through, what is it now, 16 books?, Stephanie has not grown, at all. She still makes the same mistakes bounty hunting, she still has the love triangle, she still is broke, etc. I think this is a dis-service to the character and the series. After 16 books, a person should grow a little, shouldn't they? Otherwise, I think they are a laugh riot and look forward to #17 coming this summer.

  3. Not every book works for every reader. Glad that your friend made you think about this though.

    I agree that the books peaked a while ago, and while I read each new one when it comes out, I do now borrow them from the library adn not buy them.

    If I sit down and think about the first book that scene where Grandma shoots the chicken still makes me laugh five or six years after I read it! That alone will mean that I still will have a soft spot for these books going forward

  4. I have only read the first two books in this series so far (but I have read several others by this author). I loved the feel of these books and always love the writing style. I can't wait too read more of them.

  5. The book is new to me and I was not sure of what a bail bondsman actually does. This book would be interesting reading for me anyway.

  6. I agree! I think Stephanie definitely needs some more character growth. Just to have her financially stable would be great, but you know I really want her to just decide between Ranger and Joe!

    I agree, not every book works for every reader. I think book club is more fun when there is someone who dislikes the book and is willing to talk about it!

  7. I love this series! You're right, Stephanie is so real. You do have to probably read more than just this first book to really fall in love with the characters but you're also right that at a certain point, they pretty well went as far as they could go doing the same thing.

  8. Like you I felt that One for the Money seemed a little too much like it was a set-up for a movie. A fun read but it didnt make me want to read more. Funny thing is when reading your comments about the Austen challenge amd mentioning Lady Vernon and her Daughter you may want to know that one of the authors wrote a series with a Jersey shore setting that was very funny - I liked it better than Evanovich. Since I am from Jersey I am very picky about getting NJ right and these books did a better job than Janet E imho