THE CHARMED BRACELET (Nancy Drew Graphic Novels #7) by Stefan Petrucha, illustrated by Vaughn Ross (Papercutz, 2006)
GENRE: Graphic Novel
REVIEW: Unlike some other graphic novel adaptations of classic tween series, the Nancy Drew Girl Detective series introduces the famous amateur sleuth through a series of new mysteries. Unfortunately, they lack the cleverness and interest of either the original series, or the Case Files series from the 80’s and 90’s. Superficially speaking, The Charmed Bracelet is glossy and fast-paced with Nancy wise-cracking her way through a pithy narration. And that’s just the problem – the entire treatment is superficial. Nancy Drew is known for her independence, intelligence and loyalty to her friends – they are the qualities that have made her endure for over nearly 80 years. But this new Nancy has a shallowness to her that is, at best, unappealing. There is no great mind at work here, no serious determination to solve anything. There is just a chest jutting petulance that is odd and strangely off-putting given who this character is. The mystery itself suffers from the same lack of depth, with little to no tension and an extremely pat resolution, and while Ross’s illustrations are attractive for the most part, they are also cluttered, over-busy and difficult to make out, as if they are trying to hide the fact that there really isn’t anything going on below the blurb.
OPINION: Though I can see how the Papercutz graphic novel adaptation will appeal to tweens and perhaps even introduce a new generation to the famous girl detective, it feels like a bit of a waste. While the idea for a graphic novel adaptation is fantastic, the execution leaves much to be desired, and while I wouldn’t keep the series out of a collection, I would do my best to push the novels to interested readers, as well.
IDEAS: Might make a fun addition to a “Nancy Drew Through the Years” display in a library. Could also make for good comparative discussion in a book group or even classroom, with students reading one of the older novels along with the graphic novels and comparing characterizations.