The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

January 23, 2011

Patty Crane, Book Review: Evanovich characters speed into graphic novels

JOPLIN, Mo. — I like to read books with recurring characters and usually eagerly await the next one out. Janet Evanovich is one of my favorite authors who have recurring characters so I always watch for the next Evanovich book. A few years ago she started a series with the characters Alex (Alexandra) Barnaby and Sam Hooker but only two titles were published, “Metro Girl” and “Motor Mouth.”

Last summer Alex, the mechanic, and Sam, the NASCAR driver, returned but in graphic-novel form. “Troublemaker 1” by Evanovich and her daughter, Alex, is her first foray into the graphic-novel genre. While she was very excited to pen a graphic novel, some of her fans may have a hard time with this new format.

My experience with graphic novels is limited. On the recommendation of Cari Rerat, Joplin Public Library’s, teen librarian, I read a couple of graphic novels a few months ago. Even though I enjoyed reading one of them, it is not my preferred choice for books.  However, I was curious to see how characters I had experienced through the written word would look in graphic form.

“Troublemaker 1” begins with some references to the previous books (“I once stole an eighteen wheeler and drove it to Miami”) but reading the previous books is not necessary. The characters are introduced at the beginning and the story is not a continuation of a previous plot.

This adventure starts with a voodoo doll and a missing friend. Rosa, Alex’s friend, did not return from a weekend trip to the Florida Keys.  A voodoo doll is found at her station at work with a note attached indicating she is being held hostage.

Felicia, Rosa’s friend, does not trust the police so Alex and Sam, along with Beans, Sam’s Saint Bernard, decide to try to find Rosa themselves. Anyone familiar with Evanovich knows that mayhem will surely follow. In their quest to find Rosa they must deal with voodoo, the swamp and Hooker’s mom, who has just moved to Florida.

“Troublemaker 1” begins the adventure and “Troublemaker 2” is the conclusion.

“Troublemaker 2” finds our fearless duo in Key West searching for Rosa’s boss, Walter Percy. Sam’s boat, the Happy Hooker, is the hostage this time and the couple must deal with a stolen statue, snakes and an irate chicken.

Both of these books are a very quick read and the illustrations are bright and colorful. Joelle Jones did a nice job with artwork. I had to concentrate at first on looking at the illustrations as I read as they are part of the story.

Even though I followed the story easily, at times I felt like I missed something as the story seemed to jump to the next chapter. The flow from chapter to chapter that I perceive in the written word was missing for me in this graphic form.

Also I did not have the same feeling of satisfaction I usually get when I finish a book.  Too much of the ‘work’ was done for me so I was not as invested in the outcome as I usually am when I read a book.

But perhaps that is the point. These were a quick, fun diversion and I encourage you to give them a try. You might find Alex and Sam in the graphic form just as entertaining as the written.

Patty Crane is the reference librarian at Joplin Public Library.

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