Monday, March 22, 2004

Nancy Drew: girl detective

ALL NEW ALL NEW ALL NEW screams the cover.

It also boasts "Only 99¢ U.S./Can." I take great pride in the fact that I purchased my copy at 20% off.

Without a Trace is without much of anything (an apparently new cover shows an increased price). Authorship is still attributed to the imaginary Carolyn Keene. The persona of Nancy Drew herself has changed with the times, but she is a hardly a more fully developed person.

The writing is passable; the plot is predictable and nothing special. A mere 150 pages, it doesn't compare with my memory of delving into the thick hardcovers with the twisty plots of my childhood. Mind you, it's been 27 years since I read Nancy Drew through the eyes of a 7-year-old.

Grosset & Dunlap retained the rights to the first 56 titles, which they are still selling today (the revised editions) [the ones I remember so fondly]. Simon & Schuster was allowed to take control of the character.

While these new books aren't poorly written (not always true of the earlier titles), they just don't have the same pizzazz as the original, unvarnished Nancy Drew.

I don't remember the books being narrated in the first person, but they probably were. I do remember Nancy Drew's "hunches," but I don't recall this 'gift' being referred to as a "sixth sense."

What I remember most about Nancy Drew books was the sense that I was learning — phrases of Turkish, gardening, history, and culture. This installment devotes almost a full page to the history of Fabergé eggs.

While I enjoyed imagining myself in her shoes and piecing together the puzzles, I don't remember ever thinking of Nancy Drew as a contemporary. She seemed always to be a step back in time, and this added to her charm.

Although it wouldn't upset me to see Helena someday entranced by this modern version of my childhood heroine, there are better books (and role models — Hermione Granger springs to mind) out there for her.

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