CBR-V Review #30: Confessions of a Teen Sleuth by Chelsea Cain

Why I Read It: Because I was the biggest Nancy Drew fan in the world growing up, and I saw this mentioned on a blog as something adult fans of the series would get a kick out of.

My Rating: 2 stars

Summary: The gorgeous, smart, and capable Nancy Drew is now grown up. Joined by familiar faces (her boyfriend, Ned, her best friends, Bess and George, her housekeeper, Hannah Gruen, etc.) plus characters from some of children’s mysteries’ best-known series (the Hardy Boys, and more), Nancy sets out to solve as many mysteries as she can, even in a modernized world, in this parody of the Carolyn Keene series.

My Review: I really wanted to like this–and I certainly liked parts of it–but overall, the whole thing fell flat for me. Mostly, I didn’t feel like this concept held up for 200 pages.

Certain parts were genuinely funny. I loved the constant references to Nancy’s titian hair and slim figure, which were hallmarks of the original series, for example, and the extensive descriptions of her clothes. I also liked how the book portrays grown up Ned, Bess, and George as caricatures of themselves. Again, these bits and pieces were really entertaining and would have been perfect for a short piece (I’m thinking something like the New Yorker’s Shouts and Murmurs feature, for instance). It just got SO old so fast, and it was a chore to get through once I read the first 10-20 pages. Part of the issue was that I didn’t catch a lot of the references to other books (I looked them up later–a lot of other children’s mystery series are namechecked, but I only knew the Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown) so I might have enjoyed later chapters more if I’d understood the frame of reference. Either way, though, I think this book needed to be cut down considerably to avoid stretching the concept too thin to be successful.

Should You Read It: It’s worth checking out the first chapter, but after that, it’s all pretty much repetition of the first few (admittedly funny) jokes.


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