When I was a kid, there were several Nancy Drew books that I read over and over again (as you do). But Nancy wasn’t the only female sleuth on my radar – I also loved the adventures (and misadventures) of Trixie Belden. Which series do I prefer? Let’s dive into this comparison to find out!
ND: Nancy Drew is a literal icon. Smart, witty, redheaded, and always finding the most interesting mysteries in both her home town and abroad. What’s not to like? Well…maybe the fact that Nancy is a Mary Sue? Now this doesn’t mean I dislike Nancy! I actually find her a bit inspiring – her kindness, courage, and intelligence all combine to make her an awesome role model. But I do find her a little boring at times. *ducks*
TB: Okay, so I don’t really relate to Trixie all that much either. For one, I believe she’s only thirteen or fourteen. (Someone confirm her age for me, please!) I admire a TON of young teen protagonists but I don’t often relate to them (Ponyboy Curtis is one notable exception). Additionally, Trixie is a total tomboy and that reeeeally isn’t me. HOWEVER. I find Trixie a more realistic, well-rounded character than Nancy. Even if her impulsive, scatterbrained ways do annoy me at times.
The Side Characters
ND: We all know Nancy’s bffs (at least I think we all do?) – George Fayne and Bess Marvin. George was probably my favorite character in the whole series when I read the books as a kid (even though, like I mentioned above, I’m not a tomboy). I liked how outspoken she was.
Bess was mainly there to be frightened and moan over how much cake she eats. (#relatablethough) Ned is bland as white bread with mayonnaise. Let’s be honest – the real MVPs of the series are Hannah, the housekeeper, and Nancy’s dad, Carson Drew. Especially Hannah.
TB: I will never not fangirl over Jim Frayne (hey, his and George’s last names are similar!). He’s just…the best. Brian is the older brother every tween girl probably wanted (I know I did, at least). Mart and Bobby are ANNOYING. Diana is great. Regan and Miss Trask deserve daily medals (as do Trixie’s parents).
But the best side character is Honey Wheeler. #HONEYFORPRESIDENT. She’s sweet (no pun intended), kind, compassionate, caring, tactful, and just an all-around amazing person (without being a Mary Sue). She’s potentially my favorite character in the whole series (it’s either her or Jim).
ND: So, the villains in Nancy Drew books are quite menacing. They’re also pretty obvious – like, you never really wonder whether or not the villain is a the villain. Which lowers the level of suspense, even if every chapter does end on a cliffhanger.
Also, the henchman descriptions are usually racist – the big bads seem to always employ swarthy, sly, shifty-eyed foreigners who speak in broken sentences. *eye roll* There are some truly good villains in the series though. I’m particularly thinking of the evil medical people in Password to Larkspur Lane (probably my favorite ND book).
TB: I don’t remember many of the villains in this series. But the two who do stick out to me are pretty great + chilling. First, you’ve got Jim’s evil stepfather, Jonesy. The guy is a brute who makes Jim’s life horrible for the first two books in the series. I don’t think he’s actually ever on the page in person, but Jim’s fear and hatred of him leave a powerful impression. (#protectJimatallcosts)
The second noteworthy villain is found in The Mysterious Visitor. Diana Lynch’s long-lost uncle comes for a visit, only he turns out to be not what he seems and his villainy really elevates the book (in my opinion). It makes for one of the most twisty, nerve-wracking plots in the whole series. Seriously, check it out if you’ve only ever read the first book or two!
ND: I’ve kind of touched on this a bit, but the fact that the villains are so obvious really lessens the impact of the mysteries in this series. There isn’t anything to figure out, on the part of the reader. No sudden betrayals. (That I can remember.) No shocking plot twists (not really, if we’re being honest – even a lot of the chapter cliffhangers are lame).
However, the sheer variety of the books still makes them interesting. Not variety in the villains or even plots so much as in the locales – and the minor characters that only appear for one or two books. Honestly, some of the one-shot characters are more interesting and memorable than certain members of the main cast (I’m looking at you, Ned).
TB: One thing I enjoy about the Trixie Belden series is the way it switches up the typical ‘whodunit?’ formula. There isn’t always a villain. There isn’t always an international diamond smuggling ring. There aren’t an endless line of petty thugs. Sometimes, the biggest trouble Trixie has to face is her failing math grades. (Mystery in Arizona, anyone? I was so frustrated by her inability to just sit down and DO HER MATH.)
Yes, there are plenty of thrilling adventures and mysteries. But the real focus of the book is almost always on the human drama. The relationships between all of these unique, complex characters. Their triumphs and failures and problems – even the ones that may seem inconsequential to the overall story. Like having to babysit your little brother when you want to go horseback riding. Or coming up with enough money to build a clubhouse, even when you’re a millionaire. These daily issues and struggles make Trixie and the gang relatable, interesting, and a ton of fun to read about.
You’ve probably guessed it by now, but…I prefer Trixie Belden to Nancy Drew (series and character). However, even with that preference out there, I still have to say that both Trixie and Nancy are incredibly smart and resourceful amateur detectives. They’ve got a ton of #girlpower up their sleeves and an amazing support system. I hope we can all be a little more like both of them. ❤
Who do you prefer? Nancy or Trixie? Let me know in the comments!