The definition of girls’ series books by Nancy Drew scholar Sherrie A. Inness captures the essence of girl sleuth and career girl series books:
“Girls’ series typically star a girl, usually but not always a teenager, who, with or without friends, has exciting adventure after exciting adventure in a series of books that focus on her experiences.” Sherrie Inness. Nancy Drew and Company, p. 3.
“Girl sleuth” books are often accused of being “formula fiction.” What are some of the formulas or conventions found in these books?
- Teenage heroine is motherless, fatherless, or orphaned
- Characters often do not age and there is little character development
- Common plots involve restoring missing inheritances and identities
- Setting is a vague location unable to be pinpointed on a map
- Clues often involve jewels, maps, diaries, wills, or letters
- Gothic and mysterious elements feature in the locations and plots
- Cliff-hanger chapter endings are common
- Typical villains are low-life characters, bullies, social climbers, or foreigners
- Stories refer to previous and following books in the series
- Lists of all the books in the series and other series books from the publisher are listed on the book covers