Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Nancy Drew On Campus Series

In the Nancy Drew On Campus series, Nancy, Bess, and George are freshmen at Wilder University.  Nancy purposely decides to go to a different school than Ned, because she wants to experience college on her own terms.  Not surprisingly, Nancy and Ned break up shortly into the series.

Nancy, Bess, and George end up in different dorms, so they have little contact with each other. The girls all acquire their own friends plus a large entourage of other acquaintances, far too many for the reader to be able to remember.  The large cast of characters greatly detracts from the series.

Nancy becomes a reporter for the university newspaper.  In each book, she solves a mystery. The mystery is but a side note as most of the text is devoted to the many new acquaintances that each girl has.

The basic premise of the series is good.  Nancy working on a college newspaper and doing investigative reporting is a great idea.  Having more mature stories is good as well.  The problem is that the premise was poorly executed.  The series was written in the most boring fashion possible.  I found the first book to be bland but passable.   By the fourth book, I was thoroughly bored.  I struggled through the fifth and sixth books, and then started the seventh book.

In #7 False Friends, I came upon this passage on pages 12 and 13.
Just then Nancy's hand was grabbed, and she felt herself being whisked off the path and into the cavelike coolness under a giant weeping willow.

"One word from you, and I'll, I'll—"

"You'll do what, Jake Collins," Nancy replied dryly.


Nancy felt a soft, still slightly unfamiliar mouth press against hers.

"Do that," Jake said.

"Ooh," Nancy replied, a sheepish grin tugging at the corners of her mouth.

She raised her ocean blue eyes and let them wander over Jake's boyishly handsome face, settling on his warm lips that seemed frozen in a wry, I-know-something-you-don't grin.

Nancy wanted to pinch herself.  Is this really me?  she wondered.
Huh?  Besides being nauseating, this scene didn't even make sense to me until I had typed it into this post and read it multiple times!  There is just so much wrong with this passage.  Jake's mouth is "slightly unfamiliar"?  I have never read anything that stupid in any young adult book ever.

Jake has a "wry, I-know-something-you-don't grin" in a scene that is supposed to be romantic?  Jake knows that Nancy has just gotten the reporting job she wants, and she doesn't know yet.  "Wry" means that Jake is mocking her.  How is this romantic?  And all the stuttering?  What is that?  Everything about this passage is awful and written totally wrong.  Nancy's heart should have pounded or something.  Come on!

This was where I finally quit reading the set.

If the authors of this series can't do romance and suspense better than that, then the books are not worth reading.  I would rather read the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series again, and that was painful.  At least the Undercover Brothers series was overall interesting, even though it was an overall bad experience.  The Nancy Drew On Campus series is dreadfully uninteresting.

I made a few notes about the first few books as I read them, because I thought I could get through this series and do reviews.  I just can't.  The first six books in this series are among the most boring books I have ever read.

I have a theory about this series.  Simon and Schuster wanted to create a Nancy Drew series for young adults where Nancy is a little older with more mature content.  They wanted Nancy and her friends in adult situations that would appeal to the young adult audience.  However, the publisher had to be careful with the Nancy Drew character. Nancy couldn't be put in compromising positions, since Nancy is expected to behave properly.  She shouldn't sleep with her boyfriend, do drugs, or drink alcohol.  In short, she couldn't do anything that would be expected in a more mature story.

Since Nancy couldn't experience adult situations herself, a large cast of characters was created so that they could do drugs, get drunk, and sleep with each other.  Nancy would be kept pure.  Nancy was kept so pure that her romance scenes were written in the most boring fashion possible.  Nancy gets more romance in Nancy Drew #51, The Mystery of the Glowing Eye, which was written in the 1970s for children.

What I think happened is that the authors, editors, or whoever was responsible for this debacle wimped out.  They didn't know how to do anything with Nancy, so they did nothing.  This is strange, since Nancy has some romance in the Nancy Drew Files series, which was in publication at the time of the Nancy Drew On Campus series.  All they had to do was write Nancy the way she was written in the Nancy Drew Files series.  Why didn't they do that?

The result is that the Nancy Drew On Campus series reads like a children's series with an attempt at adult situations with no description or emotions.  The result is terribly bland and boring.

I will be selling my set of books.  I need the shelf space.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I always thought this was supposed to be a competitor to Sweet Valley University the way the Nancy Drew Files were to Sweet Valley High. The mystery was often so tame that someone used to the Files was likely to be bored.
There was a couple books where Bess and Ned almost started to date that was actually interesting but they dropped it when Nancy was way to possessive for someone supposedly in a happy relationship.