As I have mentioned on this blog several times before, I am a huge Veronica Mars fan. I religiously watched the television show over a decade ago when it aired on UPN/CW, and was a proud backer of the Kickstarter campaign that brought Veronica’s story to the big screen last year. I have since kept up with the series by reading the novels that creator Rob Thomas and co-author Jennifer Graham have written, which basically pick up where the movie left off. The latest, Mr. Kiss and Tell, came out in January.
For the most part, the book was exactly what I’ve come to expect, with characters I know and love. There was murder and mayhem, and corruption and crime. I mean, when is there not in good old Neptune, California?! But while this latest novel had all of the requisite plot lines and plot twists, there were still a few pieces that felt out of place.
First of all, I didn’t think Thomas and Graham did as good of a job making the book accessible to people not entirely familiar with the Mars mythology as they did with the first novel, The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line. For example, there were references to “09ers” that were never explained (it hints at the zip code for the ritzier section of town), as well as a comment from Logan, Veronica’s boyfriend, that her friends have been calling him “not Piz.” If you’ve been following the series or have seen the movie, you’ll know that Piz was the nickname of Veronica’s previous love interest, the one she left for Logan. If you haven’t, I’m sure you can infer that Piz is an ex-boyfriend, but you’ll be missing the complicated backstory, which helps explain the tension between Veronica, Logan, her friends, and her father.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware that Mr. Kiss and Tell is part of a series and is building off of everything that came before. But one of the things I liked the best about the movie and The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line was that they felt accessible to newbies, as well as die-hard fans. This time, I wasn’t really sure that a casual reader would be able to follow along as easily – or find the book as enjoyable.
The other piece of the novel that I struggled with was the story line involving Eli “Weevil” Navarro, one of Veronica’s high school chums and the former (maybe) leader of a local biker gang. While I don’t want to get into specifics and potentially ruin the tale for other people, he did things that felt extremely un-Weevil-like to me and just didn’t sit quite right.
Then again, as Logan reminds Veronica (and us) at one point, there are nine years of story that we are missing. We don’t exactly know what these characters have gone through, how that has changed them, or what motivates them now. We, like Veronica, are judging them by how we remember them from their high school/early college days. But people do grow up. And the real world is more complicated and grayer than either we or Veronica would like to admit.