“One for the Money” review: or, I listened to an audiobook! Here’s how that went.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich. Recorded Books: 2011. Narrated by C.J. Critt.

One for the Money coverI read a Stephanie Plum novel! And I listened to an audiobook! Or rather, I listened to a Stephanie Plum audiobook! Woot!

Explanation: I’m taking an Adult Pop Lit/reader’s advisory class (which I’ve said before, sorry) and had to read many books from many genres, one genre of which was mystery. I’m not typically a mystery reader, but I do enjoy them when I read them (more on how this class changed my ideas on reading in a forthcoming post…). One of our requirements was also to listen to one of your book choices as an audiobook. I am not an audiobook listener. I have listened to bits and pieces of audiobooks in the past, but never have I listened to one from beginning to end. In short, my mind wanders. I can’t pay attention. But Janet Evanovich got me to pay attention.

This series, if you don’t know, is an insanely popular adult mystery series starring the less-than-professional Stephanie Plum as she fumbles her way through solving crimes. Evanovich titles each book in the series according to the number, the most recent being Hardcore Twenty-Four, coming out in November 2017. Stephanie is a relatable and hilarious narrator who ventures around the streets of New Jersey working for her uncle, a bail bondsman, apprehending clients who didn’t appear for their court dates. So she’s basically a bounty hunter who gets caught up in some sticky situations involving a murder and a sexy Italian man.

I’m sure I would have enjoyed this book regardless of whether I read or listened to it. Evanovich’s writing style is witty and down-to-earth, and I laughed out loud many times while listening to the book. The plot was fast-moving and the characters were developed well enough that there was a good balance between character development and plot. I did not manage to predict the ending, nor any of the twists and turns, though none of them were particularly shocking either. The humor and page-turning plot make it clear why so many people are addicted to these books. I have heard that the series gets repetitive over time, so I don’t know how much more I will continue with it, though I would like to continue to read at least a few more.

On to the audio. The narrator, C. J. Critt, does sound a little bit too old to be portraying Stephanie, who is supposed to be in her early 30s. And many of the lines she delivered would not have been the way I would have imaged them being said. Which brings me to thoughts on audiobooks in general…

It isn’t just the fact that my mind tends to wander that I don’t like audiobooks. It’s also the fact that someone else is interpreting the text for me. The tone of voice and delivery of lines and narration can vastly change the meaning of words (as we all know from misunderstandings that tend to happen via textual communication – tone is everything). So the Stephanie Plum character I now have in my mind is one that is greatly influenced by the way the audiobook narrator read the book. That’s not to say that the way the narrator read it is wrong – it’s just their interpretation, and their interpretation might be slightly different than mine. I did begin to form my own version of Stephanie as I listened along and disagreed with some of the line deliveries. In short, my Stephanie is younger and less confident, and maybe more like myself, as we tend to project ourselves on characters we read about. I’m hoping my version will come to life more when I read further novels in the series without audio. I’m not a big fan of taking away any level of interpretive power from the reader.

Altogether, however, it was a surprisingly enjoyable experience. I laughed a lot and even gasped at some points, and my mind did not wander as much as I expected it to. This is definitely thanks to the humorous narration and fast-moving plot. I would probably have less success with audiobooks that don’t move as quickly and don’t have as much humor. I’m ultimately glad I chose this book to listen to, and I would recommend it to people who enjoy mystery, imperfect female heroines, and witty adult humor. As a person who doesn’t read a lot of pop lit, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and rating this book was easy. Audio 4/5, book 5/5.

5 stars

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