Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Nancy Drew Wanderer Books

The Nancy Drew Wanderer books consist of Nancy Drew #57 through 78.  The imprint changes to Minstrel beginning with #79.  Coincidentally, the reading experience changes with #79, so this is a good stopping place to make some observations.

On July 24, I wrote:
I do not like several of the lowest-numbered Nancy Drew paperback books.  The books are a bit uneven for a time.  The lower-numbered Nancy Drew paperbacks were published in a time of transition.  Harriet Adams' health had failed, and Nancy Axelrad took over writing the books.  After Nancy Axelrad, the books were written by a number of different people, and during this time, the Stratemeyer Syndicate was sold to Simon and Schuster.  From that point on, Simon and Schuster was completely responsible and made necessary subtle changes to the series, like dumping Burt and Dave.

After this long transition, which occurred from #57 up to around #80, the series settled into consistently good titles.
These comments were based on my memory of reading the books around 10 years ago.  I was correct that the period of transition continues up until around #80.  I was also correct that the books are uneven and that I do not like some of the books.  10 years ago, it was true that I did not like "several" of them.  However, my opinion deteriorated greatly upon this reading of the books, and I now do not care for many of them.  In fact, I was quite surprised by how negative my overall experience was in reading these books.

Here is the tally, and I have noted the author for each book since an obvious pattern exists with respect to the authors.

#57 (Adams) - dislike
#58 (Adams) - love
#59 (Axelrad rewrite of Adams text) - dislike
#60 (Axelrad) - hate
#61 (Axelrad) - strongly dislike
#62 (Wagner) - like
#63 (Axelrad) - dislike
#64 (Ballad) - like but not as a Nancy Drew book
#65 (Axelrad) - strongly dislike
#66 (Lawrence) - dislike
#67 (Ballad) - like
#68 (Wagner) - like
#69 (Lawrence) - mostly like
#70 (Wagner) - love
#71 (Lawrence) - dislike
#72 (Lawrence) - dislike
#73 - love
#74 (Lawrence) - like
#75 - strongly like
#76 (Wagner) - like
#77 (Lawrence) - mostly like but the book is strange
#78 (Lawrence) - dislike

Out of 22 books, I do not like 10 of them, while I like 12 of them.  I dislike 45% of the Wanderer books, which is much more than several of them.

Overall, my reading experience of the early paperback titles was quite difficult and really wore on me towards the end of the Wanderer books. 

I concluded partway through the books that I strongly dislike all books written by Nancy Axelrad.  There is not a single one of them that I like.  I have a more positive feeling about the books written by James Lawrence, although I still dislike over half of the Lawrence books.  Many of the Lawrence books grated on my nerves due to the cute references like "sapphire" eyes and restaurants like "Golden Pavilion."  I also grew quite tired as Nancy "swallowed sighs" and "swallowed hard" as she did throughout the Lawrence books.

#79 is the first Minstrel book, and the series takes a different tone from that book forward.  I have already read the first several Minstrel books again, although I have not yet reviewed them.  The tone evens out, and the first few stories are consistently good, unlike so many of the Wanderer books. 

Several people have reported not liking the early paperback titles and deciding not to collect the paperback books based on those books.  Should anyone decide to reconsider, try reading perhaps only #70 and #73 from the above group and then skip to #79.  #58 is also an option, although be forewarned that I am one of the very few people who dares to admit to loving that book. 

2 comments:

christophermencken said...

I did find that in the original ND series I cared about were the ones where Mildred Wirt had the heaviest hand. By the time they'd got into the 1950s, "Wooden Lady" "Ski Jump" etc., I thought they'd lost much of the zip.

Going through now the Judy Bolton series, which has been an interesting comparison.

Haven't read much of any of the newer ND series in the past around 1970

Fun blog! Thank you.

sequesterednooks said...

There's definitely a tone shift with #79. It still stands out to me as the funniest Nancy Drew book. I read Vanishing Veil a few months ago, and the humor was similar. Do we know the author of these volumes?

I have to admit a fondness for several of low-numbered Wanderers, but I think it's because I only owned a few as a child and read them over and over.