Saturday, January 27, 2018

Nancy Drew Diaries #16 The Haunting on Heliotrope Lane

In Nancy Drew Diaries #16, The Haunting on Heliotrope Lane, Willa is worried about her friend, Izzy, who has been acting strange ever since she visited the vacant Furstenberg house on Heliotrope Lane.  At times, Izzy acts like she is possessed.  Nancy agrees to look into the mystery.

I stated that the Nancy Drew Diaries series is an epic fail and called for a series relaunch when I reviewed the previous book in the series, The Professor and the Puzzle.  I knew when I read that book that the series might as well end at that point and that there was no hope.  Sadly, I was correct, and the problems plaguing the Nancy Drew Diaries series continue to worsen.

As I read this book, I noted all of the pages upon which Nancy is depicted in a negative fashion.  I include showing fear as a negative trait, since Nancy Drew traditionally does not show fear.  At least 50 pages contain one or more negative descriptive statements about Nancy Drew.  That is unacceptable, and I am quite certain that no previous Nancy Drew book has ever contained that many pages that contain negative descriptive content, not even the Girl Detective series.  This series is an epic fail, indeed.

The first four pages of the story are devoted to detailing how queasy Nancy is after watching a horror movie.  I guess the author thought that a compelling opening to the book would be to read in great detail about how upsetting Nancy's horror movie experience was.  I don't get it.

Here is a list of the 50 instances I noted in which Nancy is depicted as scared or in a negative fashion.

Page 1:  Nancy's voice is hoarse from screaming, and she wants Bess to stop talking about the movie.

Page 2:  Nancy has to grab her stomach because of the horror movie discussion.

Page 3:  George apologizes for Nancy getting freaked out.

Page 4:  Nancy has to breathe through her nose and mouth to calm down.

Page 6:  Nancy feels her "stomach leap up into [her] throat."

Page 7:  Nancy is told, "You're Nancy Drew, aren't you?  The sort-of detective?"  Nancy thinks of this as "unexpected fame."

Page 8:  Nancy tells herself that "honestly I was just happy I hadn't peed myself.  That was scary."

Page 9:  Nancy wants to go to bed instead of hearing about the mystery.

Page 20:  Nancy screams in fear.

Page 34:  Nancy is "still feeling a little shaky from the surprise."

Page 38:  Ned tells Nancy that she is "experiencing the spiked adrenaline that people get when they're afraid."

Page 39:  Frightened, Nancy jumps "straight up [into] the air, knocking [her] head on the ceiling."

Page 41:  Nancy is "trying to look (and feel) determined."

Page 42:  Nancy tells herself, "Stop psyching yourself out."

Page 44:  The house makes Nancy's heart beat faster.

Page 45:  Nancy shudders.

Page 46:  Nancy is relieved when her friends join her.

Page 47:  Nancy is again relieved to have someone with her who is not "scared out of her wits." 

Page 49:  Nancy lets George lead the way through the house.

Page 51:  Nancy is "losing it, screaming and too freaked to move."

Page 52:  Nancy has to breathe and has an adrenaline rush.

Page 54:  Nancy wants to "grab onto the doorframe and refuse to budge."

Page 55:  Nancy is "super grateful" that George goes first.  Nancy's arm is shaking.

Page 57:  Nancy shivers with fear.

Page 58:  Nancy is shaking and trying to hide it.

Page 60:  Nancy screams.

Page 68:  Nancy remarks that she was freaked out in the house.

Page 70:  Nancy admits that she was "being a wuss."

Page 71:  Nancy is horrified by a moaning sound.

Page 94:  Nancy is "trembling" and "shaken."

Page 113:  Nancy is shaking.

Page 114:  Nancy's heart gives "a little squeeze of fear."

Page 121:  Nancy feels "the same sick feeling in [her] gut."

Page 123:  Nancy shudders.

Page 124:  Nancy is shaking and also shudders.

Page 125:  Nancy shivers and tries to calm herself.

Page 126:  Nancy feels "her heart leap into [her] throat."

Page 127:  Nancy panics.

Page 128:  Nancy feels her "heart contract."  She wants to "run, screaming, up the stairs."

Page 129:  Nancy's voice is "high and shaky."

Page 130:  Nancy speaks "shakily."

Page 131:  Nancy is startled.

Page 132:  Nancy's heart falls "into [her] stomach."

Page 134:  Nancy panics.

Page 136:  Nancy feels a "flutter of fear" and is "scared witless."

Page 139:  Nancy's heart is "dancing a rhumba" as she thinks "terrified thoughts."

Page 146:  Nancy is asked, "[H]ow effective could a teenage sleuth be?"

Page 147:  Nancy feels sick.

Page 149:  Nancy feels her "heart thudding in [her] chest."

Page 150:  Nancy screams and is shaking and trembling.

This chick is pathetic.  She is Nancy Drew in name only. 

I may have figured out why Nancy is being depicted as overly scared.  The book was written in first person.  The author apparently felt that the reader would feel fear if Nancy was depicted as being scared.  The reader is told constantly that Nancy is "shaking" so that the reader will feel scared.  However, this approach fails miserably.

Second, I have long suspected that Simon and Schuster is hiring people who are either not good writers or will write for minimum compensation.  This has resulted in an inferior product.  The author is either not very skilled or not motivated to write well.  The author relies on using words like "shaking" instead of using descriptive language to describe a spooky atmosphere.  For instance, instead of simply stating that Nancy is "shaking" as she enters the basement, I would have come closer to feeling fear if descriptive language about the basement had been used, like describing the basement as having menacing shadows.

Here are some other notable quotes.  On page 9, Bess remarks about the phrase, "house on Heliotrope Lane."  "That sounds funny.  It's like one of those old mystery stories—do you remember that series with the yellow covers, Geo—."  This remark is bizarre, since Nancy Drew is the mystery "series with the yellow covers."   Statements like this pull me out of the story.  Actually, I never did get into the story, since I was pulled out of it constantly when I kept having to stop to make notes about Nancy's fear.

On page 47, George announces that "there's probably not a working bathroom" in the house.  I'm glad that they got in the obligatory bathroom mention, since the great minds behind this series think that girls love bathroom humor.

Nancy gets in a smirk on page 67.  That's another necessity in this series and one that I cannot stand.

On page 118, Nancy finally realizes an appropriate use of a cell phone to help solve a mystery.  It has taken Nancy 16 books to figure this out!

On page 129, Nancy tells herself that she needs to get answers, if not for herself then for Izzy.  This makes it sound like Nancy doesn't really care about solving the mystery.  Nancy has a continuing problem in this series of needing to motivate herself to solve the mysteries.

On page 151, Bess and George arrive to save the day.  They come because Nancy's phone supposedly went dead, and they know that Nancy always charges her phone.  Really?  This is new.  Nancy forgot to get gas in the previous book in the series.

When the summary of this book first went online, fans commented that we were finally going to get a title that was not sabotage.  I was skeptical, since haunted houses are typically some kind of sabotage.  Surprise, surprise.  While really creative, this story is actually sabotage.  This is the kind of sabotage I like, since the sabotage is not obvious, but it is still sabotage nonetheless.

Was my hardcover book worth the $12.20 that I paid for it?  The first half of the book is bad.  The second half is decent, although not written as Nancy Drew should be.  The book itself is very nice.  The cover art is quite attractive, and the book is aesthetically pleasing.  However, I look at the book in disgust.  Is the book worth anything?  I don't know.  Maybe this review is worth $12.20.

Should I purchase the next book?  I probably will because I will want to see how bad it is, but I wonder whether I should wait for a remaindered or reduced copy.  My local Half Price Books stores have lots of hardcover copies of Nancy Drew Diaries #11 The Red Slippers at half-off the cover price.  The books must not be selling well.  Gee, I wonder why?

Simon and Schuster may very well be damaging the monetary value of the Nancy Drew franchise.


Jack Cleveland said...

I have not bought the last few titles in the series. I've been buying them from a collectors perspective; Ive been unable to read any of them. I try... but lose interest quickly. I'd rather read ANY title in the 57-175 part of the original series rather than these. Simon and Schuster are killing Nancy Drew.

CvilleTed said...

My theory is the current editors don’t want to be burdened with producing Nancy Drew, they would rather be editing and promoting other more prestigious tween titles. The sooner they can kill off this series the sooner they can get to projects they support. Nancy Drew is probably brining in revenue, but it’s not spent on decent ghost writers. Would not be surprised if an intern is writing these, as simon and Schuster did years ago with the Tom Swift Young Inventor series.

Tracy said...

I was buying these in audiobook form for the grandkids but noticed Nancy was wimpy in them. I'm not going to get the rest of them. I wish I hadn't wasted my credits!

Jennifer White said...

Heliotrope Lane is awful. Amazingly, the new Nancy Drew Diaries Christmas is a really good book and is the best in the series. Finally, they get it right, but for how long?

Jack Cleveland said...

Almost two years ago I commented, and I am just now reading an entry in this series. I am determined to finish it. I am hopeful that perhaps, the new CW series will be a spark that allows Simon and Schuster to do something positive with Nancy Drew. True mysteries. Character building. Effective putting. And maybe-just maybe- a higher page count. The TV series is proving that Nancy does not have to be treated like yesterday's mashed potatoes. Come on Simon and Schuster- get it right will ya?