Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hardy Boys Original Series Summary

I first read the Hardy Boys series over 20 years ago.  I had gone to a garage sale and found a set of picture cover books listing to Desert Giant on the back cover.  I read those books plus some higher-numbered books, including possibly The Secret Agent on Flight 101.

While I enjoyed many of the original text stories, I was overall not impressed with the series.  I recall that I did not like the boys' sometimes rowdy behavior.  I did not like Aunt Gertrude.  I did not like whichever higher-numbered books that I read.  I was left with the impression that I did not like the Hardy Boys series or boys' series books.

I avoided boys' books for around 18 years, aside from a few short boys' series books written by Nancy Drew authors. 

As I have already reported, I gradually acquired some sets of boys' books and read them.  I ended up becoming a fan of boys' series.  Finally, I ran out of new boys' series to try, and it was finally time to try the Hardy Boys series again.  That was my plan all along.

Long ago I sold that set of picture covers that I read years ago, but in the last five years, I gradually built up a set again so that I could try them again.  I had all original text books on hand, and I thought that my opinion might improve after having read so many boys' series in the last couple of years.

I found that I enjoyed the original text stories more than I expected, although I still struggled with quite a few of them.  At that time, I had no desire to read any revised text books.  If I had tried to read the original text followed by the revised text for each title, I would have never made it through the set.

By the time I reached #40, I decided to read up to #58.  By the time I reached #50, I decided to go back and read only the revised text books that were significantly rewritten or completely changed.

Now that I have finished reading the original 58 Hardy Boys books, I can report that my opinion of the Hardy Boys series has improved.  I do like a number of the boys' independent series better, but the Hardy Boys series is better than I once thought.

Early in my reading, I found the coincidences to be a bit bothersome.  I reflected that the independent series are better in that aspect.  Partway through my reading, I was often annoyed about how in every single book the boys and their father seemingly work on separate cases that always turn out to be the same case.  Later in my reading, I ignored that aspect since that is simply the premise of the entire series.

I do not like the treatment of the police in the early books, just like I did not like that aspect before.  The series quickly moves past that phase, so it's not important.

I now like Aunt Gertrude.  I'm not sure why she bothered me so much. I can't say that I liked her very much in her first one or two appearances in the original text, but after those early books, she didn't bother me this time.

The Hardys are not nearly as rowdy as what I recalled.  As best I can figure, I remembered the automat scene from What Happened at Midnight and the conflicts with the Bayport police from the early books so vividly that I had a bad opinion of the boys' behavior in all of the books.  The boys do not behave in that fashion to the degree that I recalled.

I made a list of how much I enjoyed the original text and revised text books.  I did this to try to understand why I feel the way I do about the original text books as compared to the later books. 

    1. The Tower Treasure - OT decent
    2. The House on the Cliff - OT very good
    3. The Secret of the Old Mill -  OT very good; RT good
    4. The Missing Chums - OT very good; RT very good
    5. Hunting for Hidden Gold - OT very good; RT good
    6. The Shore Road Mystery - OT very good; RT very good
    7. The Secret of the Caves - OT good; RT very good
    8. The Mystery of Cabin Island - OT excellent
    9. The Great Airport Mystery - OT excellent; RT good
   10. What Happened at Midnight - OT fair; RT fair
   11. While the Clock Ticked - OT bad
   12. Footprints under the Window - OT bad; RT bad
   13. The Mark on the Door - OT very good; RT very good
   14. The Hidden Harbor Mystery - OT very good; RT excellent
   15. The Sinister Signpost - OT good; RT good
   16. A Figure in Hiding - OT good; RT fair
   17. The Secret Warning - OT bad; RT very good
   18. The Twisted Claw - OT bad
   19. The Disappearing Floor - OT fair; RT good
   20. Mystery of the Flying Express - OT very good; RT very good
   21. The Clue of the Broken Blade - OT very good; RT fair
   22. The Flickering Torch Mystery - OT excellent; RT very good
   23. The Melted Coins - OT very good; RT very good
   24. The Short-Wave Mystery - OT overall very good
   25. The Secret Panel - OT overall very good
   26. The Phantom Freighter - OT good
   27. The Secret of Skull Mountain - OT bad
   28. The Sign of the Crooked Arrow - OT very good
   29. The Secret of the Lost Tunnel - OT very good
   30. The Wailing Siren Mystery - OT excellent
   31. The Secret of Wildcat Swamp - OT good
   32. The Crisscross Shadow - OT good
   33. The Yellow Feather Mystery - OT excellent
   34. The Hooded Hawk Mystery - OT fair
   35. The Clue in the Embers - OT bad
   36. The Secret of Pirates' Hill - OT fair
   37. The Ghost at Skeleton Rock - OT fair
   38. The Mystery at Devil's Paw - OT very good
   39. The Mystery of the Chinese Junk - good
   40. Mystery of the Desert Giant - very good
   41. The Clue of the Screeching Owl -  excellent
   42. The Viking Symbol Mystery - bad
   43. The Mystery of the Aztec Warrior - good
   44. The Haunted Fort - overall good
   45. The Mystery of the Spiral Bridge - excellent
   46. The Secret Agent on Flight 101 - good
   47. Mystery of the Whale Tattoo - good
   48. The Arctic Patrol Mystery - good
   49. The Bombay Boomerang - very good
   50. Danger on Vampire Trail - very good
   51. The Masked Monkey - excellent
   52. The Shattered Helmet - very good
   53. The Clue of the Hissing Serpent - fair
   54. The Mysterious Caravan - very good
   55. The Witchmaster's Key - excellent
   56. The Jungle Pyramid - good
   57. The Firebird Rocket - very good
   58. The Sting of the Scorpion - very good

It didn't help much, since I don't have any obvious conclusions to make.  However, I will report my general feelings about the different parts of the series, even though I can't back up my feelings with data.  I struggled with some books and greatly enjoyed some books from all time periods.  I know for sure that I consider volumes 2 through 9 to be a strong group of books and a pleasure to read.  That group of books is the strongest in the series.

I struggled with many of the original text books from volume 10 through volume 19.  I really wanted to quit while reading volumes 10 through 12, since I was going through a difficult time and the books were not helping me escape.  I also did not like volumes 15 through 19 very much.  Getting through volumes 10 through 19 was not easy.  While I consider a number of the books to be very weak or annoying, my distaste for volumes 10 through 19 may have much more to do with my mental state at the time I read the books.  I read those books in November, which was a dark time for me.  I will probably never read those books again, since they will forever be a part of November 2015.

I also struggled with some of the higher-numbered original text books, but not as much as I did volumes 10 through 19.

Strangely, I do feel that I generally struggled less with the higher-numbered books with 20 chapters, even though those books have weaker stories.  Therefore, my impression is that my overall experience with the higher-numbered books is more positive, even though the stories tend not to be as good.

Again, I do believe this has a lot to do with me and how my life has been since I began reading the Hardy Boys set.  I have been under a huge amount of stress since November, and it has caused me not to feel well much of the time.  For that reason, I need books that are easy and effortless to read.  The books with 20 chapters are easier to read.  That's why I seem to have a more positive view of those books, although they aren't typically as good as as the earlier books.

And that's why other readers should never suggest that someone not read certain books.  I was told not to read the books with 20 chapters.  I did, and I enjoyed them.

I also want to add that I am a girls' series enthusiast.  Even though I have now read many boys' series, I am still a girls' series enthusiast.  Not only that, I am female.  So my perspective on the Hardy Boys series is different than that of the core group of fans, who are male. 

In conclusion, I enjoyed my reading of the Hardy Boys set, at least mostly, and enough that I decided to try a few of the Hardy Boys Digest books.  I sampled a few and liked them enough that I decided to read through that set as well.  I was a bit dismayed by my decision, since reading Hardy Boys #59 through #190 is a big commitment, and reading all of them will take five to six months.

I should also mention that I seem to be enjoying the Hardy Boys Digest books more than the majority of the books in the original 58.  That surely is shocking to most of you, but the Digests are easy and exciting.  The Hardy Boys Digests are exactly what I need at this point in my life.


Homeschool Mom said...

I am amazed at your ability to complete such a task. I would love to do that with one of the series (ND, Dana Girls or HB). Thanks for sharing your insights with us!

drizzz said...

Thank you for doing all the hard work of reading this series and sharing your opinions, I'll probably only read ones that you highly rated.