Monday, July 6, 2015

Nancy Drew Diaries #9 Clue at Black Creek Farm

In Nancy Drew Diaries #9, The Clue at Black Creek Farm, Nancy investigates who is sabotaging Black Creek Farm, which grows organic vegetables.  All of the farm's vegetables have been contaminated with E. Coli.

And that pretty much summarizes it.  Can Simon and Schuster think of anything other than sabotage?  Other children's books published by Simon and Schuster do not feature sabotage.  I know, because I have read quite a few of them. 

I do better with series when I read titles in consecutive order.  Since I have had to wait until each new Nancy Drew Diaries title is released, I am not able to enjoy these books quite as much as I otherwise would have.  When I read Nancy Drew Diaries #8, The Magician's Secret, I had just read the Magic Repair Shop series.  I was so annoyed about the contrast between the Nancy Drew Diaries series and the Magic Repair Shop series that I wrote this post.  With Nancy Drew Diaries #9, I had just concluded reading the excellent Tom Quest series.  I found this book to be rather lacking in comparison, even though the book is much better than the previous Nancy Drew Diaries book.

This book opens with a large amount of what I call "organic food propaganda."  I don't have a problem with organic food, but I don't want to read copious amounts of information about how wonderful it is while reading a book for pleasure. It's like reading a Grosset and Dunlap travelogue:  boring!

Nancy and Ned discuss the case in Chapter 3, and during the entire discussion, the text gives a play-by-play description of Ned's eating.  Nancy tells Ned something, and then "Ned dunk[s] what [i]s left of his burrito in a little puddle of guacamole."  A moment later, "Ned glance[s] up from his guacamole, which he [i]s now scooping up with a spoon."  Nancy makes a few more comments, then "Ned [sticks] his finger into the spoon to pick up one last dab of guacamole."  Why do I care?  Is this supposed to make me hungry?

It was during Chapter 3 that I concluded that some scenes in these Nancy Drew Diaries books are juvenile, as in childish. Out of curiosity, I actually scanned a page of text and ran it through an online readability test to see what the reading level is.  The result was grade 7.9.  I decided to check a random page of text from an original text Nancy Drew book selected at random.  I chose a random page from Jewel Box and got a result of grade 5.9.  I then selected a random page of text from the revised text of Old Clock.  The result was grade 5.2.

The reading level is higher in the Nancy Drew Diaries, but the cover art gives off the appearance of a much younger Nancy Drew.  Furthermore, the book seems like a book for younger readers than grade 7.9, because of the manner of delivery and type of content.  Is this a reflection of our current society?  But then, series like the Magic Repair Shop books and Brandon Mull's Beyonders Trilogy, both published by Simon and Schuster, do not come across as juvenile.  What's up with the childishness of the Nancy Drew books?

On page 28, Nancy is annoyed that Bess and George offer Nancy's services.  Why is Nancy so reluctant to take a new case?  I thought she was supposed to love being a detective.

One page 34, we are told that Nancy can't cook.  Why is this depreciation of Nancy Drew necessary?  My problem with this type of statement is that it has nothing to do with the story.  I don't mind Nancy not being perfect, but I have a problem with negative statements being thrown into the text for no reason.  In one of the Nancy Drew Girl Detective books, Nancy breaks into a business, forgetting that it would have a burglar alarm.  Nancy gets arrested for her lack of judgment.  I don't mind that sort of thing, since people do make mistakes.  I do mind Nancy being torn down needlessly, which is how these books seek to make Nancy less perfect.

I was amused at the passage on page 71 where Bess likens Nancy's sleuthing obsession to a bad television series.  While still dismissive of Nancy's abilities, the passage is rather funny.

Page 87 has an example of slipshod writing.  Julie snorts near the top of the page, and Abby snorts near the bottom of the page.  I'm surprised that Nancy didn't immediately snort as well.  How about we all snort?

An eco-resort in Costa Rica is mentioned on page 126.  What is with the recent Nancy Drew books and Costa Rica?  Other South American countries could be mentioned. Besides, other continents exist as well.  So in Simon and Schuster's Nancy Drew world, only sabotage and Costa Rica exist.  Nothing else matters.

The recent recession is mentioned on page 126.  This sort of reference dates a book and shouldn't be mentioned in a series like Nancy Drew which should have a timeless quality to it.

I enjoyed this book, and I enjoyed it much more than I did the previous entry in the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  Nancy does some real investigation, including at night on the farm.  This is good.  However, I also found the book to be lacking, since I had just finished reading all eight Tom Quest books.  Reading an outstanding set of books immediately before this one drew out all the flaws in this book.  If I had just read the first eight Nancy Drew Diaries books immediately before this one, I would have noticed fewer flaws.

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