What it’s like to read Janet Evanovich for the first time

by on October 30th, 2015
What it’s like to read Janet Evanovich for the first time Cover Image

Okay, I’m using the term “read” here liberally as I’m really listening to her audiobooks. But the sentiment is the same: after a long aversion to mainstream romance and mystery, what do Janet Evanovich’s stories have for me?

Caving in to one of OverDrive’s auto-generated recommendation that I should try out Wicked Business, I listened to a sample of the book and discovered a familiar voice. Lorelei King, talented performer of my beloved Mercy Thompson series, reads Evanovich’s Wicked books too. I have really enjoyed King’s tender interpretation of the Mercy Thompson books–she has whisked me up in wistfulness before–so I was tickled to find that her voice narrates more stories in our collection. (You never think to search by reader, do you?) 

So here I am: logging in to check out book 2 of the Lizzy & Diesel series. Book 1–Wicked Appetite–may have been checked out. I filter my OverDrive search results to only those that are checked in, because, you know, I need the book now.

The Wicked Business audiobook is only 6 hours long, so it goes by quickly if you listen to it while cooking, cleaning, and crafting. It may have been King’s reading that made me listen to her book during chores, instead of my new favorite Google Music “Diva House Anthems” mix. But I was pleasantly surprised at the writing behind the reading, too.

I shouldn’t be. Evanovich has written more than 50 novels, and readers on Goodreads have “shelved” her books more than 3 million times. (Shelves are curated lists, whether it’s just an “I’ve read this” list or a personalized list like “fluffy fluffy fluffest.”) Her punchy one-liners are also perfect for Twitter–she doesn’t even need to tweet anything new!

So the prolific Evanovich has this extensive oeuvre that I disdained and pre-judged as “not my style.” Thanks, but no thanks, to that bridge to nowhere, I thought.

But you know what? She’s clever! And entertaining. And she does corny well. I honestly enjoyed it. The characters were well-developed and likable, and the plot (odd couple with special abilities and zany sidekicks team up to fight evil) moved along at a speedy pace. That is pretty much all I need to read a book these days.

Complaints I’ve read about the Lizzie and Diesel series focus on how formulaic Evanovich’s writing has become. After 50 novels, should one be surprised? But even one reader who complained about the book ended her review with, “Not her best work by far, but because I’ve started the series I’ll probably finish it.” 

That quote excellently sums up my own obsessive consumption of series books. The book is mediocre, but I have to see how things play out! And in the week since finishing Wicked Business, I have already finished book 1, Wicked Appetite.

Anyone out there care to share what they love and hate about Evanovich books? I’d love to hear it.

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About Melody Dworak

Melody Dworak
Melody buys books for the second half of the nonfiction Dewey numbers on the 2nd floor. She has recently been bitten by the fiction bug, but loves those historical reference questions regardless. Visit the digital collections she manages at icpl.org/magazines and history.icpl.org.