Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line
By Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham, Read by Kristen Bell
Length: 8 hours, 42 minutes
If you’re like me, you’ve already been to the movie theater, or hit up your VOD (or both!) and spent nearly a couple of hours of bliss. And if you’re like me, you finished watching the movie with a big smile on your face, but were left craving a little bit more
Enter the first Veronica Mars novel. When I first heard about this book, I was – to put it mildly – a little anxious. I’ve been burned by extended universes of other franchises before that seem to be spinning their wheels. Could the authors actually capture the spirit of the show, or would it feel more like a cookie cutter mystery? And as to the audiobook, I was worried about who they’d hire to capture a character as iconic as Veronica.
But then I saw the movie, and had to look up the book immediately after. That’s when I discovered it was narrated by none other than Veronica Mars herself: the one and only Kristin Bell. Hook, line, sinker. And so I’m gonna do something I normally save for the end of the review, and talk about the narration first.
Kristin Bell is a very good actor, and it turns out she’s also an excellent audiobook narrator. It helps, of course, that Veronica Mars is the perfect role for her – and she performs it with all the charm, confidence, vulnerability, and snark that Thomas and Graham could type. And The Thousand Dollar Tan Line feels like Veronica Mars. This is something I was still anxious about – whether Thomas and Graham and even Bell would be able to capture the spirit of a visual medium, and translate it to prose. To be fair, I don’t know how it works in text, but it pays off in Marshmallows in audio. In addition to Bell reprising Veronica, it’s tons of fun to hear her reading her co-stars parts – doing her best impressions. I think her Mac is the best, but I also enjoyed her Keith Mars. It’s a very comfortable, natural reading.
Two months after the events in Veronica Mars, it’s spring break in Neptune, and Veronica is called in to investigate the disappearance of a missing college girl. While she’s on the case, things get more complicated as another girl goes missing. Weevil and Logan have small but effective rolls, while Mac and Wallace take much more active roles in the investigation. And Sheriff Lamb? Ugh. Just when you thought the dude couldn’t be any more of a corrupt bastard. There are plenty of tense scenes – one features a bunch of kids on their spring break making out while the movie Spring Breakers plays in the background, which I found particularly disturbing. But best of all, Thomas and Graham bring back a character from Veronica’s past who we haven’t seen in a long time, and use it to mine way more emotion than I was expecting from this tie-in novel, and further complicates Veronica’s life.
I’m happy to say that everything I loved about watching Veronica Mars was evident in this book. The mystery was complicated, twisty, and satisfying, and Thomas and Graham managed to bring life to these familiar characters on the page, making them feel like the old friends that they are.
I could’ve done with more of Veronica and Keith (and to be clear, this is how I ALWAYS feel – even if the whole story is Veronica and Keith), so I’m particularly pleased by the way the book closed, and I can’t wait to see how things go with the rest of this series. If it’s two things us Mars fans have, it’s hope and perseverance.
For those of you who don’t know Veronica Mars, this is not the book for you. Not yet. You need to go binge watch seasons 1-3 and the movie, then come back and listen. Like now, Sam! Veronica is one of my favorite pop culture characters – right up there with Han Solo and Fox Mulder. To call her a mash-up of Nancy Drew and Philip Marlowe does not do her justice – you’d need to sprinkle a healthy dose of Tom Joad in there as well, because Veronica’s stories typically deal with the plight of the lower class, who often get screwed by those more powerful and wealthy – with Veronica fighting to protect the downtrodden. This book is no exception.
The Thousand Dollar Tan Line was exactly what I needed after seeing the Veronica Mars movie. It kept me hooked for the duration, and when it was over, left me hoping there’d soon be more. We Veronica Mars fans, I fear, are just like our hero – we’re addicts that can never be completely satisfied. That said, this was a good one, and it’ll help tide me over until the next Veronica Mars story.
Special thanks to Random House for providing me with a copy of this audiobook to review.