It has been over two months since I came back to the United States, and if you are wondering how long it took between my plane touching down, and casing a Dollar Tree for ironic Young Adult novels, the answer is about 30 hours. Having a never-ending supply of free-to-cheap books is one of the highlights of being back.

Speaking of timelines: 12 years ago, while writing about a Nancy Drew book, I mentioned that the series was 82 years old. Meaning it is currently 94 years old. The launching of Nancy Drew is as far from the present day as the Andrew Jackson administration was from that date. Nancy Drew is a venerable franchise, and it seems that it will persist for a while, despite the fact that some of its many reboots and reimaginings have felt stale.

And these were some of the things I was thinking when I opened my copy of the 17th book in one of the many rebootings of Nancy Drew. Entitled "Famous Mistakes", published in 2019, and written by (of course) Carolyn Keene, I wondered just how much of the mythology it would try to lean into. On the first page, we learn that Nancy Drew's boyfriend, Ned, now has a podcast, and he is about to interview a comedian whose onstage behavior has caused controversy. My first reaction to this is that it seemed like the franchise was trying to be relevant, and that it would probably not end well. The mystery, and the plot, quickly begin, when we find that the comedian in question, Brady Owens, has had his room ransacked and his material ripped into pieces. Since he had recently enraged a crime victim's group by suggesting an audience attack a heckler, that is the prime suspect. Nancy Drew, her boyfriend, and cousins Bess and George have to find out the culprit before Owens' show at River Heights new performing arts center. For a 164 page YA book, the mystery is actually fairly well developed. Along with its topical allusions, it also has at least a few "modern" detective methods, at least to the extant of explaining how fake twitter accounts work. I also found the ending a good detective story ending---I guessed what was going on, more or less, but it wasn't obvious.

So all in all, I was impressed.

There is a reason that this is important, other than just my love of YA books. One of the things that I find interesting is that in recent years, many YA books, and other media, has managed to talk about mature topics, while also seemingly embracing a softer, almost cartoony aesthetic. Shows like Adventure Time and Gravity Falls were examples of that, as was this book, which abandoned the serious approach of earlier Nancy Drew reboots, such as "Nancy Drew on Campus". Even the cover shows the supposedly high school age Nancy looking more like a middle schooler. But within this, the book manages to talk about some serious topics: free speech, the problems with internet anonymity, and misdirected social justice campaigns, while not pandering or being condescending. So this book surprised me with both its substance and its style.