A Long Time Ago, We Used to Be Friends....

Veronica Mars: The First Book in an Original Mystery Series - Rob Thomas, Jennifer Graham

Have you ever had a relationship that you knew wasn’t working, couldn’t work, would never work? But you just couldn’t help yourself, because the way it didn’t work was so damn good?

So this is where my Two-Week Throwback ends. 64 episodes, a movie and now a book series. Which is funny because I read somewhere that Rob Thomas originally intended for Veronica Mars to be a serialized novel before it was picked up as a TV show.

As someone late in the Marshmallow Party, from where I stand, this series does have an addictive quality to it. But if I’m going to put the couch potato critic hat on, everything after the Lily Kane arc just paled in comparison. And that includes our diminutive heroine’s return to the seedy underbelly of Neptune, California. But The Thousand Dollar Tan Line still had the series’ trademark red herrings and plot twists within the plot twists hooked together with enough familiar charm of the cast that will keep you guessing until the very end. 
It was good but not quite there yet, considering.

The story is set a few months after Veronica’s return to Neptune. After abandoning the chance to be a big-shot New York lawyer to prove Logan Echolls’ innocence, she is now back as a private investigator in the town not quite like the one she left behind nine years ago. Now plagued with corruption and an unsavoury reputation, Neptune Chamber of Commerce hires her to investigate the disappearance of a college girl at the height of spring break and curtail the dovetail in their tourism revenues. In her investigation, she entails the help of her old crew: Wallace who now teaches in Neptune High; Mac who gave up her lucrative job in Kane Software to man the desk in Mars Investigations (among other things); and Keith still recovering from the injuries he sustained (in the movie
he nearly got ran into by a car twice while Deputy Sachs was snitching on the sheriff)
(show spoiler)
Things got a bit more complicated when Veronica finds herself get personally entangled with the investigation when she finds someone from her past is involved. 

The thing with this franchise is, it has started to feel like it’s evolving away from being a Rob Thomas creation and towards becoming an amorphous product of its rabid fan base’s collective hearts’ yearning. It’s pretty evident with how the movie turned out: an actual fan fiction laid into film, pre-funded by its fans. I’m actually relieved that Thomas chose to continue the Veronica Mars canon in print where he’d have more latitude to be creative and explore this heroine in a proper and logical context: nine years and a law degree after.

Well there was some visible growth in some areas but most of her old antics, did feel a little too young for her to be believable. In her investigation, she’s required to go undercover among spring breakers, meant to pass as a college girl through her old ditzy, blonde ways and felt it a bit of a stretch to imagine her pulling that off. Her retorts and comebacks sometimes still slide back to her old Veronica ways (especially with Cliff - who I LOVE by the way) and sometimes reflect a bit of more believable edge (particularly with her dad). I wish there’d be more exploration on the disappointing fact that she is in fact back in Neptune, much as Mac and Wallace are also conveniently back in their old saddles (when I think about it, among the cast, only Logan has a complete HEA… so far.)

Perhaps a compromise on the part of Thomas in resurrecting this character for the benefit of the fans by putting her back where she left off but in doing so, rendering the past nine years an exercise in futility. I hope this is not the case. There’s a lot of dark, unspoken undercurrents in those angles that just begs to be explored and appreciated. And this is the perfect platform to run away and go crazy with it. I mean, are we finally going to get a Veronica-Logan smut scene? One that doesn’t fade to black???

(That will probably end up cheesing everyone off, but I’m just putting it out there. And to answer your question, yes Logan is in this book, but not very much. You’re welcome.)

To be honest, I’m not quite sure if I’d have enjoyed this book as much as I did if I didn’t have Kristen Bell reading it to me. She has the subtlest inflections, I love that her narration was distinct even from when she delivers a line as Veronica Mars. Or as Keith. Or as Logan. Or as a guy nervously smoking while he confesses what he knows about the missing girl. Her range is amazing and she managed to pull off these characters without coming across as laughable impersonations. It’s them but it’s her too.

I want Kristen Bell to adopt me and read me bedtime stories.

Then we could build a snowman together. Among other things.

(show spoiler)

Overall I found it an intriguing starting point for The Second Coming of Veronica Mars. It has the promise of becoming something substantial and realistically mature. While still being a lovely love letter to its loyal fans and yes, even those who used to be its friends but haven’t thought of it lately at all.