12:00 pm EDT, March 25, 2014

‘Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line’ book review (spoiler free)

Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line expands on the newly revisited Veronica Mars universe and gives marshmallows more time with the characters they love.

'Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line' book coverVeronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line is the first novel in the new Veronica Mars book series. Based on the show created by Rob Thomas, the novel follows 28-year-old Veronica Mars as she settles into her new (old) life as a Private Eye in the seedy Neptune, California.

An original mystery by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham, Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line picks up right where the events of the Veronica Mars movie leave off.

It’s spring break, which means Neptune is crawling with co-eds. When a girl goes missing while on vacation with some of her girlfriends, Veronica Mars takes on her first case after returning to Neptune. Like the residents of Amity Island, the fictional resort town in Jaws, the people of Neptune will do everything it can to make sure their peak income season isn’t jeopardized.

In true Veronica Mars fashion, nothing is quite as it seems and Veronica soon finds herself dealing with people far more dangerous than she had originally planned. But when a development in the case brings someone important back into her life, Veronica must do something even more challenging: confront her past.

Review: ‘Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line’

Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line is just what you’d expect from a Veronica Mars novel. Nothing more, nothing less.

One of the benefits of having Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line released so soon after Veronica Mars is that we’re able to spend more time with characters who we love but who didn’t get a lot of screentime in the movie. We also get a few of our lingering questions about the characters answered almost immediately after they’re introduced in the book.

The novel’s plot progresses in the same way that it would in an episode of the show. There are a few red herrings as well as a sort of plot twist/game-changer that occurs towards the end. Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line is really easy to read, almost to the point where it feels like you’re watching the show rather than reading a book.

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While the predictability of the novel’s format is comfortable, it also feels a little bit stale. The mystery itself isn’t quite up to par with some of the best Veronica Mars plot lines, but it’s entertaining enough to maintain engagement. At times, it feels like the plot is centered around bringing back the important character from Veronica’s past, but that’s neither a good nor bad thing because it is an interesting twist to see that particular character again. However, the resolution to the novel’s mystery does leave something to be desired.

Though the mystery plot isn’t served well by the novel’s tendency to mirror the show’s beats, the characters and their interactions certainly are. Scenes between characters like Veronica and her father are structured in a way that perfectly mirrors the show’s pacing. It’s impossible not to read the dialogue between the characters without the actors’ portrayals in mind. Because the novel shares the same beats as the show, the characters’ witty banter and one-liners evoke audible laughter (especially when the lines come out of the mouth of a certain fan-favorite character).

One of the biggest differences between the novel and the show/movie is that the novel is narrated in third-person point of view. It actually works really well in the novel form because we get to take in more of the world than Veronica sometimes allows us to see, including her true feelings about events that unfold in front of her. We’re even made privy to some of the thoughts she would only normally convey through a facial expression, including those towards her best friends. Even though every chapter of the book (except for the introduction) follows Veronica’s movements and actions only, it’s an interesting shift to observe her instead of being forced to identify with her.

All in all, Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line is an enjoyable read that will please any and all marshmallows. While it does leave some aspects and plot construction to be desired, it’s a good first venture into the novel form for Veronica Mars and there’s nowhere to go but up.

Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham is available now through Vintage.

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