Nancy Drew - #2 "Writ In Stone"
Synopsis: Nancy Drew is babysitting during a storm when she hears a car crash in the distance. A tow truck driver that she knows comes by w/ one of the ppl involved in the car crash b/c it is the closest dry place he knew. The person involved is David Severe (best name evar), an archaeologist. He says that he's glad he was in an SUV or he might be dead. Nancy says that SUVs are actually more dangerous b/c they have a tendency to roll over. He then shows Nancy a rock in his possession that he claims is a shore marker found in California that proves that the Chinese came to North America in 1421, before the Europeans :o
He says that there's lots of circumstantial evidence that the Chinese were in America, but now he has proof since it bears the birth date of the Admiral of the Chinese fleet's son. Nancy Drew remarks that raising a son on the high seas must have been difficult and then invites David to give a talk about the stone in River Heights since their museum could use the fund-raising. He agrees since he's stuck in the town anyways with his car totaled.
At the event, George arrives w/ her new camcorder which she's excited about, while Bess keeps trying to get Nancy to let her put make up on her o_O David appears on stage just then and opens his case to show off the stone but... it's missing! :O
DUN DUN DUNNN >_>
Nancy immediately runs on stage and finds out that he was just backstage in the washroom, so she asks the museum director who else could have been backstage, and is told only the old security guard, but he is good and trustworthy, he even holds down 3 jobs. o_o Nancy sees that as possible motive for stealing an artifact and goes backstage to pursue the guard but finds herself locked in a room :O She uses her call to call her boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, to unlock the door, but by then the guard is gone. :o
Nancy returns to the auditorium and realizes that from George's vantage point her camcorder must have recorded the washroom and so they could check to see who came in or out of there besides David. George laments that in the chaos, her camcorder was stolen! :O At the same time, the mother of Owen, the boy Nancy was babysitting and who was at the Museum as well, runs in saying that Owen is missing too! :O
DUN DUN DUNNNN x 2 >_>
We get some disjointed scenes involving the camcorder and apparently Owen using it to video cats and squirrels when somebody approaches him and offers him candy for the camera. He kicks the mysterious person in the shins and runs off. :o
Meanwhile, Nancy has been narrating the whole time and tells us she & her friends still suspected the guard and went by the cemetery where he worked at night (in his 3rd job) :o He discovers them and they run but Nancy doesn't watch where she's going, trips and smashes her head on a rock :O Bess clutches Nancy Drew and screams out "OH MY GOD! NANCY DREW IS DEAD!!!!!!!"
Best cliffhanger ending of a Chapter 1 evar xD
Nancy Drew immediately tells Bess to stop yelling cuz it's giving her a headache and gets back up. (Best anti-climactic opening of a Chapter 2 evar xD) George says that they thought Nancy was dead b/c she knocked off a piece of solid tombstone w/ her head. :o But Nancy says that it's not solid, it's actually made of Styrofoam, like a prop, and it's hollow.. something was hidden inside it! :O Nancy measures the Styrofoam rock and as she suspected, it is just big enough to hide the shore marker. She uses Bess' eyeliner to write measurements on her hand (as Bess whines that she won't use it >_> )
In the morning, she and her dad are discussing the case and her dad said that they should concentrate on finding Owen, while Nancy thinks the two mysteries are linked. Their housekeeper suggests that he might just have run away and found himself a little place to hide :o
Bess, George and Nancy go to question the security guard at his house but he refuses to answer questions and slams the door on them! :O Nancy has Bess and George pretend to drive off to distract him while Nancy herself sneaks in thru the back door. She finds that it is roach infested and dilapidated inside but she also discovers the guard's bank statement where he's recently gotten 10,000$ :O She goes into the basement where she finds mysterious dust that might have come from the shore marker :o She scoops it up into the cap of Bess' eyeliner (eyeliner to the rescue this episode! xD they should rly get a deal w/ Maybelline or something and then just have their products save the day xD ) and then calls her friends to get them to honk the horn to distract the guard so she can escape out the back again :o
Nancy goes to talk to David and ask him about the dust and why nebody might want to destroy the shore marker, he says that ppl might to stop him from showing proof of his discovery. :o He looks at the dust under a microscope and says that it's actually just concrete. :|
The next day, Nancy talks w/ Ned and says that she doesn't trust David's analysis and wishes she could get the dust really tested. Ned says he has a friend at the university who could help and calls him. Nancy goes to the post office to mail the sample to him but as she's coming out a car tries to run her over! Ned pushes her out of the way in time as the car drives off! :O
Owen's mom wanders by as Nancy is getting her bearings and says she misses Owen a lot. Nancy thinks that maybe she should be trying to find the shore marker through finding Owen (she's so caring >_> ) They go to his room and finds a painting of a tree and a tree house, which makes Nancy think that it might actually exist! :o
We now switch to the tree house where Owen and the camcorder are. He says he's bored and this isn't fun nemore. But then the guy who was chasing him earlier shows up and captures him in a bag! :O
End Chapter 2
Owen kicks the evil person in the bag and runs off while the evil person laments that he wishes the penalties for hurting a child weren't so severe. o_o
Suddenly scene change and Nancy Drew is pretending to be shot and it turns out she is playing with Owen. Nancy has been doing this for half an hour to try to get Owen to tell her where the camcorder is :o He finally leads them to the tree house where they find the camcorder! :O
They bring it back to Owen's house, along w/ Owen and then plays it on the TV but it turns out he erased almost everything on the tape. :O Nancy gets a call from Ned's friend who tells her the test results. She says that she's solved the mystery but needs to enact a plan to catch the culprits. :O
Nancy does an interview with local reporters about the disappearance of Owen and says that unfortunately they did not recover the camcorder and if anybody finds it please turn it into the police.
They then go back to the tree house where George drops her camcorder to have it look like it fell out of the tree. :o They then hide in the bushes, waiting. While they wait it starts to rain and storm and be windy! :O The bad guy shows up after a while and destroys the camcorder freaking George out D: They try to chase him but in the storm they have trouble locating him. :o He gets into an SUV and tries to escape but like Nancy predicted in the opening, the SUV rolled over as it tries to get out of the woods :O The bad guy gets out and makes a run for it w/ Nancy in hot pursuit! :O They go up the side of a cliff by the water where Nancy confronts him with the storm raging, the water below and them on a small ledge! :O
Nancy reveals that she knows who he is: Professor David Severe (Professor Severe is an even better name)! She said that she figured it out b/c Owen gave her a rough sketch, and along with Severe lying about the dust and Severe limping (Owen said he kicked the bad guy) it all pointed to him. She asks why he didn't wear a mask before, and Severe says cuz he's been making it up all along. :o He explains that when Nancy mentioned how hard it would be to raise a child on a boat, he realized that historically the Admiral was a eunuch and therefore he could never have had children and so the shore marker was a fake and he'd be a laughing stock. :O He was going to go along w/ it neways, but then the security guard stole the marker and called for a ransom but he paid the guard to destroy the marker instead. :O When he heard about the camcorder, he was afraid that the guard would be caught and then rat out Severe, so that's why he tried to kidnap Owen and kill Nancy. o_o
The bad guys are arrested (it turns out the guard had been stealing from the museum for years and had lots of money saved up despite where he lived and all his jobs o_o ) and Owen's mom (who is wealthy) insisted on giving Nancy a reward. :o Nancy uses it to buy George a new camcorder, Bess new eyeliner and Owen a play camcorder... and everybody is happy! Yay! (except Professor Severe, who's career is ruined and is in jail.. tho he'll be back... >_>)
Review: o_o Honestly, this is prolly the weakest (and maybe overall worst) book of the entire series (actually there's another one that is pretty bad too >_> ) It was rly confusing how the story kept jumping around and they don't segue into the scenes involving the camcorder and Owen very well. :| The first time I read through it I didn't get what was going on, and Nancy having her own narration on TOP of Owen and the bad guy talking made things even MORE confusing. :\ Also the whole mystery was really flimsy. I mean it was easy to figure out b/c there was rly only one person w/ motive and that was Severe and the "artifact being fake" thing isn't new in terms of a mystery plot so it was kind of surprising it took Nancy that long to think along those lines :|
Also the beginning is rly random, how this guy suddenly shows up literally on Nancy's doorstep and then gives random exposition about the artifact. o_o At least there is foreshadowing about the SUV (Nancy gives a lot of stats in her narration at the end about SUV accidents too... this series often talks about the benefits of hybrid cars vs polluting SUVs xD), but the plot is still just far too convenient.
Plus Nancy Drew seems rly out of character o_o Her first priority should have been to find Owen, not the shore marker. Esp since given the scene changes and how it's night then day, then night again, then day... Owen's been gone THREE DAYS O_O How did he survive in just a tree house? Also why is Nancy so nonchalant about the whole thing? It's not like he was missing for only a few hours even though everybody seems to act like he was. Did the writer not pay attention to the scene changes, or were the writer and artist not on the same page? (it's pretty hard to not be though when the graveyard scene clearly could only have taken place at night and then Nancy's dad was eating BREAKFAST the next scene). Neways, it seems rly sloppy and also rly awful and callous of Nancy, which isn't in character for her. :| Even if she gets wrapped up in mysteries, her friends surely wouldn't, AND she still would normally care more about actual PEOPLE than just a shore marker mystery. I mean it wasn't even until she thought finding the kid would help her solve her mystery that she even tries to look.
Also I find it funny that nobody a) knows of the treehouse and b) thinks to look there when Owen's been drawing it. His mom chalks it up to his imagination (and how does a 5 y/o kid build a treehouse sekritly w/o nebody knowing? o_O )
And Severe's actions seem... well... Severe... for a guy who just was worried about a little academic embarrassment. Esp since he didn't seem to have given any other talks on the subject or shown his rock around much (and even if he had, is it worth kidnapping charges or murder? o_O ) so it's not really like it would hurt him THAT much would it? (tho I'm not an academic, so maybe it would! but it's still not worth trying to KILL somebody) AND what rly bugs me, is that given how much he was afraid of the penalties of hurting Owen, and that he seems like he is sort of a not evil guy, it's a HUGE jump to try to run over and kill Nancy O_O (also how did he go from having an SUV to having a sports car to try to kill Nancy and then an SUV again?)
Although.. w/ the ending it means this is the second book in a row to start the series that has Nancy Drew confronting a villain on a cliff! Which, as I said last review, happens a lot. xD So... I just wanted to mention that. :] That and her fighting animals (which she doesn't do here, unless you count the brief scene involving the cockroaches) are the two recurring themes in these books. xD But that's just an "Ami keeps track of these things" aside >_>
So yeah, the plot and characterization and the ultimate solution to the mystery was rly rly awful... plus there was that unintentionally hilarious ending to Chapter 1 where Bess screams that Nancy's dead (it's an obvious forced plot point to allow them to put the scene on the back of the book to advertise Nancy's "death") and then she gets right up the next page in Chapter 2 xD But it was v over the top forced :\
The art is okay for most of it but I'd almost say it got worse from Book 1. And when it gets bad, it gets bad and confusing :( It's still rough, like the first few books are, but at some points the art gets REALLY REALLY sketchy... like when Severe is trying to kidnap Owen.. I guess it's to try to hide his face, but his face just ends up being this blank skin colour oval at times (and this isn't from a far away shot), so we SHOULD see detail but we don't, and it's freaky o_o
Also, Ned, David, Owen (who's a CHILD!) and George (who's a teen girl) all look the same at periods of time in the book, which made my understanding of it even MORE confusing the first time through. I can only imagine how annoying it must be for kids to try to get through this, or even adults to explain to kids what's going on at some of the points o_o
Basically, anybody with short brown hair (those 4 chars) all end up looking similarly b/c the art gets so sketchy at times :\ And that rly detracts from the book AND makes it extremely annoying to try to parse -_-;;
Owen and Ned, in particular have a lot of issues. Sometimes Owen looks 12, sometimes he looks 3, sometimes he's at Nancy's chest, and then he's the size of a small pillow when his mom picks him up near the end of the book o_o And Ned sometimes looks taller and older than Nancy (which he is) and then when he's rescuing her from the car he looks like he's 12 and young o_o It's REALLY REALLY inconsistent and.. honestly... sloppy :\ But then in the first few books, as I say, it seems the artist is rly trying to get a handle on the chars and drawing and maybe get more experience of her own as well... the art improves a lot in the later books. :) Tho the series is written and drawn over 4 years (and counting) so there's bound to be lots of improvement and fine tuning... But still... it's very rough here, and it hurts the book a lot :\
And so does the writing and a plot that's held together by leaps of logic, twine and spittle... so... yeah :\ No Ami recommendation here :( (except that hilarious end Chapter 1 scene...)
Angelwings Rating: 1.5 out of 5 uncaring Nancy Drews :( (the .5 is cuz of the OMG NANCY DREW IS DEAD cliffhanger xD)
Recommendation: Unless you really want to read them in order (Severe DOES show up in a later book), if you don't have the money to spend, I wouldn't recommend this book. :\ The plot is a mess and the art is so bad in places it makes it hard to tell what's going on and the characters apart :(