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401 of 431 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2011
I am the eternal optimist so, against my better judgment, I preordered the Kindle version of this book. First a little background -- When I first began this series I was in love with all the main characters and found the side characters amusing enough. Stephanie was quirky and a little flaky, but she was funny, too. I couldn't read the books fast enough. And there were those really sexy scenes in the first few books creating the triangle between Stephanie, Morelli and Ranger. There was some real tension there that made us fans come back for more. Then, after about book #10 or so, the books really became the same old thing over and over again. Stephanie's life was going nowhere. The Great Love Triangle, which was intriguing at first, was going nowhere. Stephanie's relationship with both men was shallow at best and, now (especially in this book), is both shallow and creepy. In fact, one has to wonder why two such gorgeous men would hang around so long putting up with the immature person Stephanie has become. Both men appear to just wait around to respond to some stupid request of Stephanie's without blinking an eye. The above notwithstanding, the last book gave me the impression (mistaken, as it turns out) that the series might get better. It didn't. I realized that I don't like any of these characters anymore. I've always appreciated both men in the stories, but I leaned heavily toward Ranger. I think I'll hang on to the image I have of Ranger in my own imagination from now on and forego any more of JE's books before she further emasculates him and turns him into a total stooge. So sad, I wish the series had ended before without leaving this bitter aftertaste.
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300 of 330 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2011
I was really disappointed with this book. After my aunt persuaded me to read the first book in the series last year, I fell in love! I usually enjoy all the craziness Stephanie gets into, but this is getting old. The Morelli/Ranger/Stephanie love triangle has been played out waaaaay to long over the last 6 or 7 books, and we had no details about anything that happened in Hawaii except for half a paragraph. Stephanie used to be able to fumble her way through captures and it was fun to read, but now she just relies on Ranger and Morelli. I liked Lula before, but only as a SIDE character. It just seems like JE is churning out books, and it seems as if she has lost the IT factor the books had earlier.

I'm hoping to come to Amazon.com next week and see an update saying that JE forgot to attach the last 10 chapters to the book, so here's the rest of the story.
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96 of 103 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2011
CONTAINS SPOILERS~

I think this pretty much sums up how I feel about the book: I just finished reading it a few hours ago and I can't really remember what happened. In fact, the entire series has become something that I don't really remember. The first books were so good, they drew me in, they made me read nonstop for days to catch up on the series. And now here we are at 18 and I almost had to MAKE myself sit down and read it. I probably wouldn't have finished it at all if I didn't have a friend that was waiting to talk about it with me. It was 300 pages of nothing, or more accurately, 300 pages of the SAME thing, just surprisingly more boring the 18th time around. More Stephanie being outsmarted by idiot criminals (that is one thing I do remember. She let that guy steal her car AT LEAST THREE TIMES, are you kidding me with this? Yes, please bring your bag to the door again, it's not like the purse snatcher is going to snatch it again), more flip-flopping between men (I have nothing against women taking charge of their sex lives and sleeping with who they want but when you're acting like you need to choose one, but continue to string along both? I don't know how they haven't both dumped her yet), even less character development than ever thought possible (although I'm surprised she actually managed to fend off that guy in the parking garage. I literally did not believe it when I first read it. Snaps for you, Ms. Plum) and none of that realness that drew me in in the beginning.

I know that I shouldn't expect literary masterpieces, but the beginning of this series was so good that it set high standards. Standards that are not being met anymore. How long does she honestly think she can drag these on for? I've come across very few positive reviews for the last few books. I find myself wanting the series to end just so I can have some closure, because we all know Stephanie will never choose between Ranger and Morelli until the last book. The love triangle worked out really well for the first few books but it's now years later and it's getting old. I don't even understand how Stephanie has managed to string along these two guys for this long. What is it they see in her? I wish they'd both move on. This series should end with Stephanie alone because they finally came to their senses and moved on to women that wouldn't toy with them without choosing one of them to stick with for 18 years.

Which brings me to another problem I have with this book. There's no more passion. No more emotion. Everything went by so fast, yet somehow dragged on forever. They made such a big deal out of Hawaii and then she took one paragraph to finally explain it? The Hawaii story alone would have made a better book than this stupid photograph business. Sometimes I have to wonder if Janet is even writing these books anymore. My friend and I have more fun listing all the facts that are wrong in the book than we do reading it. In the first few books, Stephanie was so alive, so real. She could have been any one of us, any one of our friends. Now she feels dull, one-dimensional. The writer has disconnected from her and because of that, so has the reader. I guess this is what happens when the pay check is more important to the author than the characters are.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2011
Janet Evanovich has given us "Explosive Eighteen" as a second in one year gift. Highly anticipated by her followers, it was hoped to resolve the uncomfortable mess made of the characters in "Smok'in Seventeen". Readers did receive the answer as to who went with Stephanie to Hawaii. But as far as the characters evolving (or in Evanovich's case regressing) into some sort of realistic people; readers were left high and dry again.
True, this series is supposed to be in the "cozy genre" and as such keeps the fluff and humor light and witless. There were so many plots and sub plots in "Eighteen" it was almost advantageous for the reader to keep notes. The use of a truly evil villain showed promise. However that resolution was given almost as an afterthought without Stephanie facing her fear and conquering it.
The love triangle wasn't and shouldn't be resolved. Instead of each of these men encouraging the growth of a more mature and responsible woman; they have been emasculated into supporting her juvenile dependency for sex. The references and (in this reviewer's eyes) demeaning stereotypical depiction of Lula as a 'heavy, black ex-hooker'was over-the-top offensive.
For a reader who doesn't care about character development or intricate plot, this book is a quick, light read. It does have action and many quirky side characters.However for dedicated followers of the series, who have matured through the years, the disappointment and frustration that their beloved characters have not, weighs heavy.
Janet Evanovich cannot please everyone. If she indeed wants to write to a younger crowd, she needs to alert her past followers so that they can be prepared. Or better still branch out and give the interesting characters their own series. Robert Crais did that with the Cole/Pike series quite successfully.
All in all: new readers to the series will probably enjoy "Eighteen" Past followers can see in it that the series is going nowhere. Sadly only 3 stars.
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85 of 95 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2011
Pre-ordered and read it cover to cover on the kindle last night. Kept wondering if I had already read this? I checked the release date and realized that there was no way I had. And yet...it was the same old, same old story. Come on Janet-have some respect for your readers and expand your story. Sorry I spent the money on this, if I could I'd ask for a refund. I hope she gets the message and has a fix for this. I've read every one in the series. Hope she either kills it off at 18 or gets some new material for 19. Personally, I'll wait and check it out from the library or buy used.
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74 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2011
First let me get the requisite summary of the Morelli/Steph/Ranger triangle out of the way.

Stephanie loves Morelli. Except she thinks she loves Ranger. Except Ranger has made it pretty clear he has issues and just isn't interested in anything beyond friendship and physical pleasure. So maybe she loves Morelli by default since loving Ranger seems a little pointless. Except Morelli is kind of pissed about that whole Ranger thing and besides, what if Ranger ever did become a possibility? There she'd be, loving Morelli when Ranger could have been a THING. So she'll just give up men totally. Except whenever Ranger or Morelli happen to want sex. Or, she wants sex. Besides, she loves Morelli. Except when she loves Ranger. and in the end...... blah. I don't even care anymore.

So there's a whole bunch of people who want something they think Stephanie has and they're threatening all sorts of bodily harm to make her give it up. Since she threw it out, it is a good thing they are morons and really inept at actually causing bodily harm. Then there are some "skips." They are morons. Stephanie and Lula spend days trying to catch the morons, except Stephanie and Lula are also morons and fail. Then Joyce goes missing. Turns out that Joyce is a moron too. Then Lula for the third or fourth time in this book alone eats herself into massive digestive upset and gulps a bottle of love potion. (Yes, that's what I said just go with me here)....

Okay, I almost put it down at this point. I have the new Stephen King to read and Thanksgiving dinner to plan after all. But like the good little Plum-verse soldier I am meant to be I carried through to the serendipitous end where all ties up nicely in Trenton and the cliffhanger is dangled to tempt us into another period of fuss over which man should it be?

I didn't like it much. It isn't romance anymore, if it ever was. It isn't action adventure. It isn't comedy. At least not comedy that I enjoy. D+
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81 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2011
So, here I am again. I swore I wouldn't read another Evanovich Plum Novel--after my last review of 17, I swore tooth and nail to my husband, my mom, and my blog readers that I wouldn't read it! So...I went to the library. I really just had to know if it was as bad as the previous one. After being teased that she might make a decision in 18, I let my small curiosity overshadow my intellect.

Remember back in the day of the early awesome plum books, where Stephanie felt BAD for kissing Ranger when she was dating Morelli? Remember back in the day where she swore she would never be like Joyce the whore? Remember? Well, it seems Stephanie has inhaled too many donuts, smoke fumes--from her cars always catching fire, and hair spray, because after she slept with Ranger and Morelli on back to back nights in 17, cementing her in my hoochie hall of fame; She is now sleeping with both men regularly in 18. How many times was it? 3 or so with Ranger? 2 or 3 with Morelli and then I'm sure her and Ranger had more sex in Hawaii than we were told. I mean, dudes--it's Ranger...and Hawaii. I would! Well, I would if I wasn't conflicted or dating another man, but hey, that's me. I have morals and scruples and a code of non-whorism.

I wish Joe had caught Steph having sex with Ranger in Hawaii. That would have been good. I also wish we got to see Joe and Ranger fight. That would have been panty melting too. But No.

Picturing Lula in all black with painted on pants and boob squish, does make me laugh. I did laugh a little. But it doesn't make up for the complete 180 degree turns every character in the Plum series has taken. Her mom is a lush, Steph is a whore, Ranger has no sack, Joe lost his possessive balls too, Lula still thinks too much about food, but she at least strives to be better...sometimes. When it's easier ;)

It seems that after 18 books, Ranger and Morelli have lost their balls. Huh. Who would have seen that one coming. Heh, I said coming. Did Stephanie here that? She probably is one of them right now, and while in the throes with whomever it is, is secretly wondering how long she has to wait to sleep with the other one so she doesn't seem tacky. Should she take a shower first? Nah. Why bother? She is just going to get sweaty again.

I jest. Sort of. I know, If I get so angry about the direction, why do I keep reading? I keep hoping things will change and they have! Finally, they have! Only for the worse. I remember thinking, why does she keep getting back with Joe? She should give Ranger a turn. Only, not this way. Why can't she have a relationship again? For a whole book, let her be with Ranger! Then at the end, have Joe tell Ranger to meet him at midnight, in the dark park, alone. with no guns. Only fists. YAY!

Pulease.

Janet Evanovich? What on earth are you doing to your characters? They have completely morphed into pod-people. They have been replaced with robots!

Lula got on my nerves. She reminded me of Boomer from ESPN with his "Whoops!" with her "Bams!"

So, once again we are left on a 'cliff' only this time? I am not falling! I am going to back away, gracefully from the edge, and bow down to the awesomeness that Stephanie used to be, and keep her alive in my memories.

I am getting off the crazy train. If I want to read cars getting blown up, her sneaky snarkness, and some hot glimpses of two actual men...I'll read the early plum books.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2011
I'm sorry to see the Stephanie Plum series had been going downhill over the past few books, each one is worse then the one before. Honestly, this one isn't even readable.

In this go around, someone slips Stephanie a picture, and for a while, she doesn't even know she has it. When she finds it, she gets rid of it and doesn't give it a second thought. The problem is that everyone wants to know what's in the picture. Everyone from the FBI, the fake FBI, Joe, Reanger, and a serial killer. The serial killer wants it bad enough and sends some of his thugs after it, and they'll stop at nothing to get it. With all of this going on, Stephanie has to go after her usual skips, and she has a hard time nabbing them as usual. Also, she still hasn't made up her mind out Joe and Ranger.

There are so many things wrong with it:

1-The Skips: She has to go after her usual skips, and stumbles and bumbles along the way. One of the skips keeps doing something to her, and how Stephanie deals with it isn't logical. Matter of fact, it's kind of stupid. As with her other skips in the book, it takes her a long time to get the people she's after. WHen she goes after the skips, it takes away from the story. I'd rather have Stephanie deal with the main bad guy, and not worry about the other skips.

2- The Development of the characters. I should say, the lack of development of the characters. The haven't developed in 18 books, all are the same. Grandma has to go to funerals, the father doesn't do much, if anything, the mom drinks - and in this book, the drinking is increased, a lot, Stephanie can't pick between Joe and Ranger (more on that later) Lula is annoying, and Stephanie hasn't grown, nothing has changed.

3- Joe and Ranger. This plot is a joke. For 18 books we're heard about Joe and Ranger, Joe and Ranger....it's past tiresome, and beaten to death. Stephanie should have picked long ago, now it's become a joke, and not a funny one. In this book, something happened in Hawaii, and that problem follows Stephanie back to NJ and everyone wants to know. At this point, the reader doesn't even care.

4- The lack of a plot. The plot in this is pretty stupid. The plot of the serial killer is so weak, Evannovich stretch's it to the breaking point. There aren't any plot twists to keep the reader glued to the story. Not even small one. Nothing.

5- Lula. With each book, she gets more annoying. She does several things that are so annoying. I can't say what they are because that would be a spoiler. I will say that she has a catch phrase, and uses it all the time that it grated on my nerves.

Overall, this isn't readable. I picked up a copy from the library, and still feel cheated. I'd urge Evanovich to end the series before it's to late, but I'm afraid that it's well past the point and the damage has been done to characters that I've enjoyed reading about. As the saying goes, "All good things must come to and end." I just wish Evanovich ended it with the books still being good.
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95 of 113 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2011
Ah Stephanie, could your life get any more messed up! Our intrepid heroine finds herself on a plane flying home from Hawaii all alone. She sits next to a noisy guy who later disappears. When she arrives at her mother's she finds a photo that isn't hers and tosses it in the trash. Big Mistake! Everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii and there is a lot of speculation about the stripe of white flesh on her tanned ring finger.

As usual, Stephanie finds herself in the middle of a big mess with little to no understanding of why. She has lots of bad dudes, good dudes, bad dudes posing as good dudes and the like chasing her around Trenton. She and Lula go after some interesting FTA's which leads to more confusion and trouble for Stephanie. Joyce Barnhart makes a significant appearance and continues to be a major fly in the ointment. A good part of this story we have seen before in other incarnations but it still works.

I have to admit I did not have any laugh out loud moments but I did find the suspense level was kicked up a bit to compensate. The never ending question of Ranger vs Morelli continues but I think there are some definite leanings in this book. Ms. Evanovich is not completely back to the hilarious early books but this one is an improvement on the lackluster numbers 14-16 books.
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47 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2011
Just received an email from Amazon for 'Editor's Picks' books. With such extremely horrible reviews, and from what the majority of reviewers have said it just plain stinks, why is this book on the 'Editor's Picks' list? Who puts it on there? It makes me seriously question Amazon's ethics in recommending books to be pushing what is obviously garbage.
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