Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bond Girl

One of the best things about my friends is that they are all little book freaks like me...well not quite like me, I'm my own special brand of freaky, but still way into books.  The best thing about having book buddies is getting reccomendations and book swaps that happen with fabulous frequency.  One of those books was the start of a series called One For the Money by Janet Evanovich.  It was not a type of book I usually pick up, but she said I would enjoy it and I'm glad I listened to her.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Stephanie Plum is a recently divorced, recently unemployed 30 year old Jersey resident.  She is in desperate need of money, having sold almost all of her possesions (or in the case of her car had them repossessed) just to keep the lights on.  Her overbearing mother suggests that she check with her cousin Vinny to see if he needs any filing done.  Filing is not what Vinnie needs, he needs somebody to track down and bring in people who have missed their trial date.  If she can manage this she gets a percentage of the returned bail money as her fee.  The biggest fish for Stephanie to catch is Joe Morelli, a cop accused of murder...and a guy who has gotten into Stephanie's pants on occasion.  Stephanie being brand new to all of this is coached by Ranger, a pro who takes the poor girl under his wing and trains her the best he can.  With this minimal training and some new supplies Stephanie sets off to catch her fugitive.  One of the tips leads to Benito Ramirez, a proffesional fighter with
violence against women issues.  He takes Stephanie's rejection personally and starts to stalk her.  As the case progresses Stephanie finds herself in situations that she never imagined possible and learns as she goes.  She befriends two hookers named Lula and Jackie who end up giving her information on women linked to Ramirez dissapering.  One of these woman was one linked to the Morelli case.  At some point Stephanie "requisitions" Morelli's car, causing him grief, and being saved by him on occasion.  Eventually Morelli tells Stephanie that he will work with her to clear his name and in return she can turn him in after they get proof of innocence so she can still get her money.  Chaos, intrigue, and blowing up cars ensues. Eventually they think they have everything figured out and Stephanie turns Morelli in.  Unfortunatly when she gets back to her apartment, Ramirez's manager is waiting to kill her, as she knows to much about everything.  She is saved at the last second and all the bad guys go to jail.  Morelli is released, and mostly forgives her for all the grief she understandably caused him and Stephanie decides that she likes the life of a bond girl...at least for now.
I orginally brought this book with me on my road trip to counter balance a couple of books I knew were gonna be heavy...the problem is I could not put this book down to start those.  Lucky for me it is a series so I have more to look foward too.  I think what I liked best about this book is how well put together it was.  The main character had a believable back story, a good motivation to go into this unusual job, she had no super skills, or amazing beauty, or unusual smarts, her only real defining factor was her desperation, and her incredible ability to wrench the good side out of a bad situation. She is not good at her new job and requires a lot of help and training to become even adequate.  By the end of the book, she knows she still has a ton to learn before she can consider herself even a decent bond girl.  The various other characters made perfect sense in their enviroment, right down to the appliance salesman/blind date.  The settings were done in a way that I feel like I could probably navigate my way around this town with little trouble, but the descriptions never dragged on.   I also liked how the author dealt with her women characters.  I know I have been having issuses with a couple of books lately, escpecially ones by women authors, so it was refreshing to see some of these issues dealt with so well.  Stephanie is a belivable woman.  She is of an age of most readers who will pick this book up, she has been through some realistic stuff, and she is dealing with a lot of the same issues the readers are probably dealing with.  The character is not hopless though, she works her way through things with a desperate wit that is both relatable and entertaining.  I liked that while the
character was not a super knock out beauty, she was aware of her attractiveness and owned it. She also awknowledged and owned her own sexuality in a non-destructive way which was awesome.  The other issue I thought was well done was the violence towards women angle.  I have been reading a lot of books where it is condoned, or glossed over, or forgiven, or turns the woman into either a gibbering dehumanzied victim, or a wild, uncontrollable, revenge seeking bitch.  In this book the violence was not glossed over, it was borderline unconfortable in its realism.  The character of Ramirez (the main perpatrator of said violence) was constantly getting off the hook because of his celeberty status and the fact that he mostly beat up women who seem to not matter to society, hookers, poor women, women who did not have the resources to make a proper fuss.  I personally felt that the author did a fantastic job of showing how often this happens in society, and then made sure her woman beater got jailed.  She did all of this while still keeping a fairly light hearted, entertaining narrative that made you keep turning the page.  The few critiques I have relate to the fact that this book was published in 1994 and several plot points depend on the lack of cell phones and internet or Stephanie being a little dumber then need be, but hey that is getting super nit picky.  Needless to say I really liked this book and hope the rest of the series lives up to the first one.  I give this book 8 out of 10 junky cars.
What book(s) have you read and loved on a reccomendation?  How does when a book was written affect it's future readability?  Did my feelings on how women are portrayed in books come out clearly?  Did you see the movie?

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