I am a woman who enjoys guilty pleasures. I watch Bollywood movies at 3am. Eat ‘smores when I should be eating carrot sticks. Listen to Young the Giant sing “Cough Syrup” roughly 40 times a day. The way I see it…life is too short to NOT indulge yourself. See the Snickers? Want the Snickers? Eat the freaking Snickers!
Most of my guilty pleasures are harmless. An hour here….50 calories there. Poof gone. Moving on. But that is NOT the case when it comes to my obsessive fascination with all things Janet Evanovich.
Let me explain.
Last July I posted a video on KO TV raging about “authors inability to throw in the towel.” My point was, that at some point (some) authors need to realize they have outplayed their characters. This rant came at the end of a week-long “Stephanie Plum” binge reading (in which I read books 1 – 18 in 5 days.) Consciously I was “over” Stephanie’s quirky cases by book 13, but for some reason (let’s call it OCD) I found myself unable to put the series aside and call it a day.
It was not until I saw Evanovich’s name on the front of “The Heist,” (and then started to read it) that the reasoning behind my obsession finally reared its ugly head.
Her writing is yet another guilty pleasure. (That makes it #4638 for those of you keeping track.)
Evanovich is talented (she wouldn’t be a NYT bestselling author if she wasn’t) but her talent (at least for me) falls in an entirely different rhelm than other authors. Evanovich’s talent (and Goldberg’s for that matter) does not lie in her ability to make me see the world differently, or turn me into a blubbering mess by page 100. Her talent lies in her ability to make me laugh (or at the very least suspend reality.) Her plots are often predictable. Her characters? Two dimensional. But I keep coming back. Why? Because they make me laugh.
Not everything in life needs to be serious. And despite preconceived notions, I am not hell-bent on reading every torturous book known to mankind (though I do keep a list.) Sometimes I want to kick back and let rocket-launchers take center stage. Listen to the inner ramblings of clumsy characters. Bask in the glory of well-crafted ridiculousness.
Which is actually kind of perfect, because “The Heist” had all of the above. (Even the rocket-launchers. Go team “Blow shit up!)
For those of you still reading, let me make this as simple as possible for you. “The Heist” is pretty much “Ocean’s Eleven” meets “White Collar.” If you don’t like either of those, you will NOT like this book. Save your money and move on.
Now, for those of you still with me (after THAT revelation)….let’s talk pacing.
The biggest problem I had with this novel was not the predictability of the plot. (Which I had pegged by page 10.) It was not the (almost) stereotypical characters. (Handsome con-man, workaholic ex-Navy-Seal FBI agent.) It was the stunted pacing that had me flipping my kindle the bird.
For those of you that have actually seen Ocean’s Eleven, you will understand instantly what I’m about to explain. The first 60% of this book was dedicated solely to character introductions. The plot as a whole revolves around a con. A con needs the perfect crew of con-men/women correct? Correct. So for the first half of the book we are introduced to the “players” of the game. Each has a formal introduction (name/age/nationality…etc) and then their “flip reel” is set into motion. (Aka: we get a quick rundown of their circumstance, why they would be perfect, and last how one – or both – of the lead characters talk them into participating.) In a movie, this takes about 10 minutes, but in a book…it takes about 150 pages. Which in turn buries the “anticipated” plot until almost the end of the book. (Making it feel unnecessarily rushed.)
There was also a noteworthy imbalance when it came to narration.
Kate and Nick are both allowed the opportunity to speak in this novel (which makes for great internal cannon fodder.) But the actual “amount” in which each are allowed is a tad disappointing. Nick is (without a doubt) the stronger character of the two. He may be a solitary man, but his bones (characteristically) are much stronger than Kate’s (even though we get to witness her on more of a familial level.) Kate however is the one that takes the wheel in “The Heist.” (Commanding more than 70% of the companion narration.) I’m going to assume this was intentional. (To keep us on our toes when it comes to the lovable con-man.) But instead it only came across as irritating, and lopsided.
So why, with all of the put downs and obvious negativity does this book still hover around the 3 star mark and remain in my “guilty pleasure” list of series to keep on my radar?
Because it’s fun.
Once I put my notes away, and got over my haughty judgemental-ness, I found myself chuckling. Chucking at Willie’s need to have her nipples on display (she’s 50 and likes to steal freight-trains.) Chuckling at Char’s (yes, that’s a stage name) ability to channel Samuel L. Jackson ala Pulp Fiction. (Though he build’s tree-houses for a living, and has a hard time not wetting himself in funny situations) And last grandpa (read: total badass) Jack who can kill a man 16 different ways with a pair of tweezers (and likes to take advantage of his AARP discount.)
Sometimes fun is just what the doctor ordered. And though it won’t win any literary awards, it might just make you smile while sipping a margarita (or 3) by the pool.
Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: Life may be too short for crappy books, but it’s also too darn short to plaster a permanent frown on your beautiful face.