Minor spoilery content is inevitable when reviewing this book
You can also read this review on my blog.
She's back! Marshmallows, rejoice! Get ready to indulge in some classic Neptune dirt. I'll admit that I had my doubts going into this book. I was disappointed with the first Veronica novel, so I really had to cross my fingers when I started this. Well, there must be something in the air for sequel writers this year, because this was another supremely executed sequel. If you've read the first Veronica... You're probably shaking your head in disbelief. Trust me, I didn't believe it at first either, but Rob Thomas really pulls this one off. Glad to see that he and Jennifer Graham actually took the last book's criticism into account. And also bought a thesaurus.
The first and most welcome change was the inclusion of characters who took the margin in TDTL. I love the new narrative structure that switches perspectives every few chapters, even if the subplots kind of teeter out and bypass resolution at the end. Keith's storyline was great; I'm glad he didn't spend too long being moody over Veronica, because that would have killed it. Weevil actually gets portrayed as more than just a plot device! Logan is back in Neptune! Mac gets really into the case. And Wallace... well, he's in the book.
Call me a sucker, but oh how I love the puppy. Yes, include a puppy in your novel to steal the readers' hearts. It works. Seeing everyone's interactions with the puppy was interesting too. However, when people say puppies are high maintenance, they mean it. Veronica is zipping all around town and poor puppy is probably being shuffled from person to person and totally confused and whiny...
Veronica's thoughts - like literally, her thoughts in italics - were much more practically used than in TDTL. I didn't have the same problem of getting lost between dialogue and thought process and written notes, which I know is just a small thing, but the story flows so much better if you can actually follow what is happening.
Thomas and Graham absolutely lock in on Veronica's voice and don't let go. At a point near the end, I stopped and realized that even though the text is in third person, I was reading it in my head Veronica-voice-over style. That's how authentic it comes across. And my hat is off to the writers for balancing her successes and failures: because yes, Veronica does screw up sometimes, especially on opinions. She's stubborn as hell and sometimes that clouds her judgment, but I know that it's hard as a writer to include character faults without annoying the reader.
Mad props to Thomas and Graham for taking on a tough topic again. Writing about rape is choppy waters a lot of the time, and disastrous if done wrong. Veronica has a relevant backstory, and that raises the value of her opinion, which I thought exuded adequate but slightly flawed feminism. Very Veronica.
As far as things I didn't like, only two come to mind. The first has to do with Veronica's friendship with Max after Logan leaves, and it's more of a warning than a complaint. I'm glad that V didn't betray Logan by hooking up with Max (I'm talking about the celebration scene at the end). That would have been out of character for her and wouldn't make sense. I did feel the storyline leaning that way, though, which concerns me because it happens way too often that writers, screenwriters, playwrights, whatever will push a couple together for the sake of plot (My main objection to the movie Now You See Me). I do not want this to happen in VMars, and I'm glad it has not so far. There was a moment of dread at the end though, for which the tension was set up nicely and everything, where I got prematurely angry at the book because I thought... You get the point here. The next book better be careful about this.
The other thing is kind of minor. I found myself wondering throughout the book, as someone living on a budget, how Veronica was paying for all this stuff. I mean, obviously the apartment or house or w/e I assume that Logan is paying for, but she flat out takes off for Vegas and books a fancy hotel room. I just don't see how she could afford that and the puppy if she's working a non-paid case, especially if her father is still disapproving of her career choices for money reasons.
All in all, a great read. I will encourage everyone I know to pick this up when it comes out. I will probably even buy a copy for my bookshelf because it might be a good re-read one day. I'm interested to see how this "series" progresses. Kiss and Tell takes place 6 months after TDTL ends, so depending on how many books the series plans to churn out, the next book will really set the pace.