Friday, March 24, 2017

Hardy Boys Adventures, Book 14 - Attack of the Bayport Beast

The idea of "Sasquatch," or "Big Foot," has always been a myth that is ripe for storytelling.  Take a quick look on Amazon, and you'll see plenty of books that use this creature as a premise for their stories.  Trixie Belden did it years ago with The Sasquatch Mystery, and now the Hardy Boys are following her lead with Attack of the Bayport Beast.

Now, I realize that these are children's mysteries, so I can't expect there to be underlying build-ups to these mysteries, but it would have made for a much better story if every once in a while during the past 13-books in this series, there had been a mention or a hint that there was some "creature" out in the woods surrounding Bayport.  That would have made this story a much bigger impact on the overall mythos of the Hardy Boys and their world.  But, alas, that would be asking too much from Simon & Schuster, who seem to spend very little attention to the quality of their Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books these days.  Which is a shame, because the premise for this mystery was actually a pretty good one.

The books opens with Frank and Joe at a sci-fi / cryptozoology convention.  What surprised me most about this opening chapter are the number of pop-culture references (as the books usually stray away from citing any real characters, films, etc.).  On the first page alone, the author mentions Superman, Spiderman, Captain America, Darth Vader, and a Jedi Knight.  From there, it expands to Wolverine, Batman, Robocop, Stormtrooper, Klingons, Star Trek, and even Doctor Who.  Unfortunately, we only get 8-pages of the convention (unlike the HBUB book, Comic Con Artist, which was entirely set at a comic convention) - after that, the book focuses on its main mystery - the mysterious and elusive Bayport Beast!

It's obvious from the get-go that the stranger with spiked hair that Frank sees at the convention and then Joe later sees at the comic shop will play an important part in the mystery.  It's equally clear that the brothers' friend, Benny (whatever happened to Chet Morton?), who is a Bigfoot fanatic, will also figure largely in the mystery.  Benny is a full-time believer in the Bayport Beast.  Joe is pretty open-minded about it.  Frank, on the other hand, is a skeptic, always looking for the logical explanation in everything.  Until he sees something in the woods.  Something he can't explain.  And that's when the real mystery begins.

The remainder of the book finds the books investigating the alleged sightings of the Bayport Beast in the forest around Bayport.  Their first big discovery comes as no big surprise to readers (unless you've never read a Hardy Boys book in your life). And the identity of the culprit is really not much of a surprise either.  The actual mystery behind the sightings of the beast, as well as the reason for the "beast" being in the forest is rather interesting and a unique take on these type of tales.  I applaud the author on coming up with a creative way to have "bigfoot" in the forest - and I also love that there is one small question that lingers in the back of Frank's mind at the end of this mystery (rather like the unresolved ghost issue in Nancy Drew's The Kachina Doll Mystery).

Another interesting tidbit was on page 37, when the author actually references a previous book, Deception on the Set, some 7 books prior.  While it is not mentioned by name, it is described as the boys think back to their detective work on the set of the zombie movie that was filmed in Bayport.

A relatively good story, this book suffers from the same problem all of the books in this new Hardy Boys Adventures series have - the way-too limited page count.  At 106 pages, this book is only a few more pages than the early-readers Hardy Boys Clue Book series!  The Nancy Drew Diaries series has been increasing the page count to somewhere 180 or more in many cases, so it's a shame they aren't providing the same page count for the Hardy Boys.  Of course, with the series now decreasing to 2 books a year instead of 3, it may not be around much longer (is this a sign that another reboot is coming?)

RATING:  7 game-changing game cameras out of 10 for keeping the story of bigfoot fresh without using any stale, overused ideas.

1 comment:

  1. Don't call it a reboot, call it a relaunch. Lol