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HARDY BOYS ADVENTURES ULTIMATE THRILLS COLLECTION
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Makes Great Books For My Grandson's Too !
The chapters are narrated alternatively by Frank and Joe, and the ghostwriter does a good job of differentiating the brothers' voices in the narration. The chapters run chronologically (no flashbacks) and are a pleasant mix of narration and dialogue. The story moves along mostly at a good pace but I felt toward end of the first third it dragged just a little.
The cons: If there was a clue to the mystery I didn't catch it. Frank describes his high school principal as "youngish, about forty" and bemoans the possibility that "reality TV is ruining the culture" - two things I doubt any teenager of indeterminate age would say. The aforementioned Deal - get rid of it. I'm not thrilled about the lying the boys feel they have to do with their parents. Besides the Deal the other aspect of the story that was unrealistic was that everyone - I mean everyone including Fenton Hardy (dad) and the police - in town knew about the Red Arrow except for the Hardy boys. Of course, no one wanted to talk about the Red Arrow, which begs the question: How'd everybody - and I mean everybody! - find out about the Red Arrow except for the boys?
The pros: I'm so glad to see this back. The story did move and the characters were pulled off well. We get a good flavor of the dynamics between the brothers and everyone else - teachers, other students, Police Chief Gomez (who is sympathetic) and Officer Olaf (who is not). The story also introduces the Red Arrow, which may resurface again (who knows?).
Not a great start to the series but not certainly not terrible. I think I benefit from having read later books to kind of gauge this one against, and to know it gets better. Definitely recommend for middle grade readers who like mysteries and enjoy reading about slightly older kids who have a lot independence and pluck.
Stick with this series. It gets better.
A solid 3&1/2 stars.
Perplexedly entitled "Mystery of the Phantom Heist"- there is no Phantom, not much of a mystery, and while there is a heist it doesn't quite come off. The latter due to the heroic efforts of Frank and Joe Hardy and the dependable Chet Morton. Phantom Heist is a solid 3 star read.
Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable read as the brothers investigate a series of pranks Joe first discovers on YouTube. There is school rivalry, snobbery, kid hangouts (for both legitimate and otherwise activities), assaults, vandalism, a fire, and even a love interest for Frank. Chet's sister, Iola, makes an appearance and helps out by using her girl skills to separate a girlfriend from a suspect long enough for Frank and Joe to question him and ultimately get a look at his cell phone.
Gone is Police Chief Gomez and in his place, well, you'll just have to read to find out. Still present is the Deal (an agreement that if the boys get caught investigating they get sent to the juvenile version of Alcatraz) but it is mentioned once, alluded to once more, and then largely forgotten.
Another reviewer panned the book for its use of slang, which I found to be a strength. The boys, while always respectful and lacking a lot of the bad habits of their contemporaries, sound like teenagers (sans the cursing) and it was refreshing to read that rather than forced gee whizzes and gollies. The brothers are well defined with distinct voices and you get a good sense of their personalities and how they react to things.
The climax is exciting, if not exactly surprising. The story, after all, is structured around an upcoming event. The villain's plan is actually a good one, though we never learn how in the world he'd planned to escape.
I'm still loving this new series and recommend it for for middle grade readers or even slightly older readers who'd like a change of pace and a quick read. Also recommended for older guys like myself who enjoy the feeling of nostalgia this updated series provides.
In The Vanishing Game, thankfully the Deal mention in the Red Arrow ad nauseam and brought up only a couple time in Phantom has been thankfully dropped. This was a tension device where the boys were threatened with the juvenile version of Alcatraz if they were caught investigating. There's still some tension between the Hardys and Chief Olaf that works fine. Another change in the series is that Joe is now driving. The grades the boys are in 11th and 12th grade.
No spoilers. Maybe a minor one.
The boys are asked by an amusement park owner’s daughter (the love interest of Joe this time) to investigate a disappearance during a ride on the showcase G-Force. There is plenty of investigating and snooping, really good characterization of the brothers and other characters. Jaimie King the gossip, a minor character, is done brilliantly through dialogue. Tension between Joe and his girlfriend Daisy is realistically drawn out of Joe's investigative sensibilities. Then there are the other brothers, eccentric and predatory designers of famous amusement park rides whose marketing ideas are both in poor taste and wildly successful.
There is also humor in Frank's social awkwardness stemming from his fascination with science that bores his date, Penelope Chung (who appeared in the previous book briefly), highlighting his personality.
The plot is well drawn, going back a few decades and includes a family secret. Reading it I was reminded of some adult private investigator novels I've read in the past.
Minor spoiler: The cover scene doesn't happen; it's a dream. And when the boys do get trapped it's anti-climactic.
Minor flaw: Daisy's mother is referred to but never appears, which is odd sense she'd lost her job and the amusement park, for which she keeps the books, is a family venture intended to save their livelihood.
The resolution is what I would call safe, but believable, knowing kids that age as I do. The clues are mostly fair but not quite adequate to solve everything. The book ends with a resolution and on a cliffhanger setting up the next book, which I had the foresight to order as I was closing in on the end of this one.
This is a good page turner for the 9 - 12 year old. At that age high school detectives are accessible to them and the Hardy Boys' independence (driving, running off before and after school to question people) is very appealing to the imagination.
This series has a lot of promise. 4&1/2 Stars.
This is a nice starter volume: 4 Stars.
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