Thursday, July 18, 2019

Tom Swift Inventors' Academy #1 Drone Pursuit and #2 Sonic Breach

I have never paid any attention to Tom Swift, since the premise does not interest me.  I have tried to read a sample book or two from the original Tom Swift series and the Tom Swift, Jr. series.  They do not appeal to me at all.  I cannot get past the first few pages.  Since I do love the Rick Brant books, in theory I ought to be able to enjoy the Tom Swift books.  Unfortunately, it's just not going to happen.

I heard of a new Tom Swift series to be published by Simon and Schuster, but I didn't care.  Why would I, right?  I saw a recent post on Facebook that had a photograph of the books, which are hardcover with dust jacket just like the Nancy Drew Diaries and Hardy Boys Adventures books that I own.  Now wait just a moment...

I read the publisher's summaries.  The summaries for both books appear below.

#1 The Drone Pursuit

When your dad funds the Swift Academy of Science and Technology, you’re bound to have a bunch of tech at your disposal.  So no one bats an eye when Tom and his best friend, Noah, test their new virtual reality drone before class.  At the academy, once class starts and the drone is parked, their brainiac friends then launch into farfetched discussions about the curriculum.  And when they watch a documentary about the FBI’s most wanted hackers from the eighties, they quickly start speculating that the academy custodian is one of them.

At first, Tom dismisses the idea as another one of his friends’ conspiracy theories.  But using their new drone, he spies the custodian acting suspiciously around school.  As Tom and his friends search for evidence that the custodian is the missing hacker, the signs become impossible to ignore when Tom gets threatening messages that warn him away from investigating.  And when someone releases a virus in the school servers, all bets are off as the adjoining servers at tech giant Swift Enterprises come under fire.  Can Tom and his friends uncover the true culprit before it’s too late?

#2 The Sonic Breach

Tom gets to take all sorts of cool classes at the Swift Academy of Science and Technology, but robotics may be the one he is most excited for. Their teacher is holding a battling robot tournament, and Tom has to build a machine that will come out on top.

With the final battle coming up, Tom and his friends need as much time as possible to refine their masterpiece. But the rest of their teachers have been giving so many pop quizzes that they can barely focus in class, never mind concentrate on the tournament. Naturally, everyone is frustrated with the trend…until a mysterious new phone app appears. If students get pop quizzes during first period, they can warn everyone else about it by getting their phones to emit a high-pitched sound—a mosquito alarm—that adults can’t hear.

Tom is unsure about the whole thing, but it technically isn’t cheating, right? But when someone changes the app to break all the rules, the ethics aren’t debatable anymore. The longer the perpetrator remains unknown, the more harshly teachers treat all the students, and the pressure won’t stop until Tom and his friends track down the person behind the app takeover.

The plots sounded interesting to me.  I also realized that I could read these books and see if they are executed better than the Nancy Drew Diaries.  Imagine the light bulb going off in my head!  I had a suspicion that the Tom Swift books would be better than the Nancy Drew Diaries books.  I could not pass up this great opportunity to read some books that might cause me to go off on another rant about the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  I actually enjoy writing my rants.  For those not familiar with my past posts on the subject, these two posts will catch you up.

Comparing the Nancy Drew Diaries to the Hardy Boys Adventures
Gender Inequality in the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Books

I purchased both Tom Swift books and have read them.  The books read very much like the Hardy Boys Adventures series, and I feel confident that the books would appeal to fans of the Hardy Boys Adventures.  As I read the books, I was sure that one of the Hardy Boys Adventures writers was involved.  I have now verified that the ghostwriter for the Tom Swift books also has written four of the Hardy Boys Adventures books.  

The students at Swift Academy are ages 12 and 13, but honestly, they are no less mature than the older and highly-conflicted Nancy Drew of the Diaries series.  In fact, the students in these books are much more more well adjusted and capable than Nancy Drew is in some of the Diaries books (*cough* Heliotrope Lane).

Tom Swift does not shake in fear, and he doesn't have to try to motivate himself.  He has his cool gadgets, and he has a mystery to solve in each book.  He is on target all the time.  He understands technology (duh).  He also doesn't visit the bathroom a single time, unlike the strange bathroom obsession in the Nancy Drew Diaries series.

Oh yeah, and these books are not sabotage.  We have a winner!

I enjoyed both of these books as much as the best Hardy Boys Adventures books.  That also means that I enjoyed them more than the majority of the Nancy Drew Diaries books.  Simon and Schuster is doing great with the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift.  The most recent two Nancy Drew Diaries books have been a big improvement over previous titles.  I do have some hope for Nancy Drew currently, and that is what keeps me from going off on a rant right now.  Nevertheless, I remain skeptical about Nancy Drew since the Nancy Drew Diaries series has been quite uneven in quality.  

I will purchase future Tom Swift Inventors' Academy books and am excited that the upcoming third and fourth books were also written by the same ghostwriter.  I see all of the current Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Tom Swift books as parts of the same universe, and they compliment each other quite well.  It would be really cool if the Dana Girls could join that universe and be written for modern readers.  I'd love to see it happen.

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