Title: One for the Money
Author: Janet Evanovich
Review Summary: This book is like junk food for your mind. It’s fun and enjoyable, but it sucks you in with humor and sex appeal rather than good writing.
One for the Money is a surprisingly plausible story about Stephanie Plum, a pretty average woman who loses her job and ends up becoming a bounty hunter. Sounds crazy, right? What makes it work is that she’s not instantly good at it. Her bumbling mishaps and witty commentary throughout are both hilarious and believable. Her strong personality and sheer stubbornness – enhanced by the fact that one of her targets, Joe Morelli, is a guy who slept with her once and never looked back – gives her the perseverance she needs to make the job work.
Although it makes sense that Stephanie wouldn’t be an awesome bounty hunter immediately, I didn’t enjoy reading about an incompetent heroine any more than I liked her being interested in the jerk who slept with her then left her. Obviously, I wasn’t too fond of our leading man either. Without having a character to really relate to, what got me into the book was the humor. Stephanie is a little clumsy and very snarky, both traits which lead to some funny moments. And her grandmother is one of the quirkiest characters I’ve read about in a long time!
The plot was surprisingly complex for something I would describe as the book equivalent of a soap opera. There’s a compelling mystery to solve and you’re given enough information that you can work on solving it. There are also a couple of side plots as Stephanie completes odd jobs to make money while pursuing Morelli. Along the way, a decent number of the supporting characters get very well developed personalities. The reason I would categorize this book as mental junk food, despite the quality of the plot, is the writing. Not only is the writing itself nothing special, the information included in the book is often more graphic than necessary. It frequently feels like the author is going out of her way to entertain the reader with unnecessary sex and violence.
However, I’ll admit it – I like junk food and I liked this book, enough that I’ve also read the second one. I did read it hoping for a little bit more though, and all I discovered is that the series seems a bit formulaic. Between the similarity in the plots of the first two books, the unlikable main characters, and the rather crass writing, I won’t be reading another. There are just too many other books for me to spend time re-reading the same only-acceptably-good book over and over again.