Thursday, December 5, 2019

Hardy Boys Adventures #18 The Disappearance and #19 Dungeons and Detectives

In Hardy Boys Adventures #18, The Disappearance, Frank and Joe attend a comic book convention with Jones and her friend, Harper.  After the convention, the young people enjoy pizza in Harper's apartment.  After the Hardys and Jones leave, Jones realizes that she has Harper's phone instead of her own.  When the boys return to Harper's apartment, they find it ransacked and Harper missing.

I kept confusing the characters as I read this story.  The characters might have been introduced too quickly, which often causes confusion.  Additionally, online chat names are given, which is more information than I needed.

I forgot to write a review of this book early this year, so I cannot remember exactly what I thought of it.  I do recall that I enjoyed it but not as much as other Hardy Boys Adventures books.

In Hardy Boys Adventures #19, Dungeons and Detectives, Sir Robert's Comic Kingdom has become a popular hangout for RPG fans, who especially love playing Sabers and Serpents, which is similar to Dungeons and Dragons.  Sir Robert plans to have a massive Halloween party to unveil the contents of a rare comic book that he owns, but the comic book is stolen!  The boys must find the culprit and locate the comic book.

On page 105, Charm from the Story Thieves series is mentioned.  It's rather odd for an actual name to be mentioned from another series, since names are usually changed or just not mentioned.  In this case, mentioning the name promoted another Simon and Schuster series, so of course they would be okay with it.

Nancy Drew is mentioned on pages 106 and 107.  This is a cross-promotion tied to A Nancy Drew Christmas.

A "missing map" is mentioned several times.

The book is a bit slow for the first 40 to 45 pages, then it gets pretty interesting once the boys arrive at the old castle.  After that point, I feel that the book continues to drag at times.  I was partially not interested and wished that the plot would speed up.  My problem might have been that the focus of this story is on activities that are not of interest to me, like role-playing games. 

Too much of the last part of the story is taken up with a lengthy explanatory session about what happened with the comic book.  The lengthy explanatory session is much like the lengthy sessions from the later titles of the original Grosset and Dunlap Hardy Boys series.  The rest of the story also contains great detail, and quite frankly, it was too much for me.

Interestingly, a review on Amazon highly praises the book for being like the old Hardy Boys books.  That was exactly my problem.  I actually do not particularly care for a large number of the original 58 Hardy Boys books.  After reading that review, I decided that this book is much like those which is part of what turned me off.

If you are a big fan of the original Hardy Boys books and have never read a Hardy Boys Adventures book, then this is probably the one to try.  I found it partially boring, but the people who have reviewed it on Amazon really enjoyed it.  My opinion of Hardy Boys books tends to be the opposite of many Hardy Boys fans, so there you go.  I am not in the target audience, which makes it not surprising that my opinion differs.

While I was not thrilled with this book, I suspect that is a very good book for Hardy Boys fans.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Nancy Drew Diaries #18 The Stolen Show

In Nancy Drew Diaries #18, The Stolen Show, Carson Drew's old friend, Louise Alain, has broken her ankle.  She requests that Nancy come to Quebec City to take her place in the dog show.  Just before the competition, a dog is drugged, presumably so that gum could be stuck in its coat.  Nancy must find the saboteur before any other dogs are targeted.

Like Nancy Drew Diaries #17 Famous Mistakes, this story appears to be about sabotage but isn't.  The publisher's summary and most of the story lead the reader to believe that the story is about sabotage.  The same approach was taken with Famous Mistakes.  It's like the people at Simon and Schuster are turning the sabotage into a running gag.

The two words "chuckled" and "smirked" are used a bit much in this story.  Use of "chuckled" doesn't mean anything, but I thought of Harriet Adams each time since I recently read through her Dana Girls books.  Harriet used "chuckled" excessively in her writing.

Use of "smirked" in these stories annoys me.  "Smirk" means "to smile in an irritatingly smug, conceited, or silly way."  I noted use of "smirked" on pages 3, 6, 29, and 67.  Nancy is guilty of three of the smirks, and George commits one of them.  In my opinion, Nancy smirking is out of character.  It bothers me.

From page 67:
I smirked.  "You just don't like that she calls you Chuck."  
I paused when I read that sentence and considered that "I smiled" or "I laughed" would have sounded so much more like Nancy Drew and would have retained the same overall meaning.  I cannot stand the use of "smirk" in these books.

Up until page 92, this book bears some similarity to The Haunting on Heliotrope Lane.  Really, it does, and that's very bad.

Nancy is portrayed in a negative fashion, like she was in Heliotrope Lane, on at least 13 pages.

Page 5:  Nancy is nervous.  She admits that she doesn't like being "in front of huge crowds of people."

Page 34:  Nancy feels "like a clumsy oaf."

Page 52:  Nancy panics and tries "to breathe through the nausea rising in [her] throat."  Admittedly, Nancy does have good reason to feel this way at this moment, but the original Nancy Drew would have been concerned and then would have taken action.  She would have solved the problem and single-handedly kicked someone's butt.  She would not have been nauseated.

Page 59:  Nancy's heart leaps into her throat.

Page 61:  Nancy is called "la petite inspecteur" which makes her cringe.

Page 67:  Nancy is called "little girl detective."

Page 79:  Nancy experiences "self-doubt."

Page 85:  Nancy admits that she is nervous.

Page 87:  Nancy says that she is "clumsy" and a "nervous wreck."

Page 89:  Nancy's stomach does a "few uncomfortable somersaults."  Also, Nancy hates being in front of an audience.

Page 90:  Nancy wills her "stomach to stop its gymnastics."

Page 91:  Nancy's heart hammers in her ears.

Page 92:  Nancy breathes "a sigh of relief."

Some of these examples of Nancy's fear are extremely like the examples from Heliotrope Lane.  The same person might have written both books.  Could we please keep this person away from Nancy Drew?  Surely some other writer could be found.

The main reason I am so offended by Nancy being portrayed as scared is that the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift are not portrayed in this fashion.  They do experience nervousness, but the way the emotion is conveyed to the reader is very different.  The way nervousness is conveyed in the Nancy Drew Diaries series comes across as an attempt to take Nancy down a notch.  The approach is different in the other two series.  I feel like Nancy is being treated differently for some reason.  It's very strange.

George also once again likes to eat and shows up in Nancy's room with a large amount of food.  I don't get it.

On page 94, the girls give the excuse that they are going to the bathroom to cover their exit from the show.  They don't go to the bathroom, but at least this book did get in the obligatory bathroom mention that is a staple of this series.  I would have been disappointed if it hadn't.

The first 50 pages of this book are quite boring.  I had to fight the urge to begin skimming during that part of the story due to my extreme boredom.  There is no reason why the reader should have had to endure so much information about how dog shows work.  Furthermore, the conversations are boring.  Absolutely nothing interesting happens during the first 50 pages.  This part of the story should have lasted no more than around 20 pages, and even that might have been too much.

The culprit is revealed during the first chapter—not so that the average child would know.  Perhaps some adult readers new to the Nancy Drew Diaries series might miss spotting the culprit.  On the other hand, anyone who has read through all the Nancy Drew Diaries books will spot the culprit immediately during the moment of the first encounter.  The Nancy Drew Diaries books do not have diverse plots.  Simon and Schuster must have one plot outline with empty spots where different names and places can be filled in, just like Mad Libs.  One story outline is copied over and over.

While the book becomes interesting beginning on page 51, it is still below average and weak for the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  On page 95, Nancy declares that she is done being "obedient" and that she will "bite back."  From that point on, Nancy is on fire.  Notice that my list of negative statements about Nancy Drew occur no later than page 92 in the book.  It's like this book was written by two different people.  Pages 1 through 50 are boring with negative statements about Nancy.  Pages 51 through 94 are better but still have negative statements about Nancy.  Page 95 through to the end of the book have no negative statements.  The last part of the book is very good.

It's quite odd.  Nancy is in no danger during the first 92 pages of the book, yet she is nervous quite often.  She is nervous about being a dog handler.  While I can understand the average person being nervous, this is Nancy Drew (said with a lilt, of course).  Nancy Drew wouldn't be nervous about being a dog handler.

Nancy seems to have a split personality in this book.  She's nervous about a dog show, yet from page 95 through to the end of the story, Nancy does a bunch of dangerous stuff that does not make her nervous at all.  That makes no sense!

The book was written overall in the style of the The Haunting on Heliotrope Lane up through page 94, and then the book was written more like a Hardy Boys Adventures book for the rest of the story.

I don't know how good I can even say that this book is overall.  I probably would go with overall good, but I strongly dislike a good part of the book.

This book is a disappointment, since the the previous two books are quite good and this one falls down again.  The Nancy Drew Diaries books continue to be uneven in quality.  Some books are good, and other books are bad.

Several fans state that the Nancy Drew Diaries series is an improvement over the Nancy Drew Girl Detective series.  I concede that some Nancy Drew Diaries books are an improvement over some Nancy Drew Girl Detective books.  I disagree with the blanket statement that the Diaries series is more true to the character.  The way that Nancy Drew is picked at in the Diaries series comes across as a bunch of cheap shots taken for no reason.

I have questioned Simon and Schuster's intent and practices for some years.  I have even wondered whether they were trying to destroy Nancy Drew by giving the inferior stories to the Nancy Drew Diaries series and using bad authors.  While unlikely that Simon and Schuster would try to destroy a franchise that it owns, the company is at the very least guilty of neglect.

I feel that Simon and Schuster (S&S) is taking Nancy Drew for granted just like Grosset and Dunlap did during the 1970s.  Grosset and Dunlap's neglect caused the Stratemeyer Syndicate to sell its series to S&S.  The Nancy Drew books created by S&S were, in my opinion, an improvement over the final Nancy Drew books produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate.

Nancy Drew is once again suffering at the hands of a company taking the franchise for granted.  This time, however, the franchise will not be sold to another company.