This review will include some light spoilers, though I'm not going to reveal the culprit or anything like that. I will be discussing some details that happen throughout the course of the book.
I thought this follow up to the first novel was really good! Even though we get a different author this time, Morgan Baden (instead of the author of the first book who went by the pseudonym Josephine Ruby), I thought the writing stayed really consistent and nothing felt strange or off-character to me compared to the first one.
Once again, this book seemed to have references galore. Our main villain of the book this time was The Lady Vampire of the Bay, originally from "I Left My Neck in San Francisco" of The Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show in 1979. She seemed to be described with the exact same appearance as the ghoulish vampire from the original episode.
Besides the Lady Vampire, we also get sort-of a role reversed reference to A Pup Named Scooby-Doo where Shaggy's dad is a cop. Instead of that though, Shaggy's mom is a cop, whereas Shaggy's dad (named Samuel, in continuity with SDMI) is a hardened, somewhat unpleasant businessman. Without ruining the ending since I did say light spoilers, I have to say the very last page of this book leaves me on the edge of my seat for the next one!
Shaggy also eats vegetarian lasagna in the book, so it's potentially confirmed that Shaggy is a vegetarian in this universe.
Moving on from the many references, I want to talk about how much I love Daphne's characterization in this. She's sort of the rich girl who we know and love from the main continuity, but she's also a bit insecure because of her parents divorcing among other teenage angst. It's hinted she was more bossy and stuck-up as a kid, which I really like since that sort of bridges that gap between her A Pup Named Scooby-Doo personality her the main continuity version, but she's sort of broken now because of all that's happened to her.
Daphne also recounts the gang playing their pretend "mysteries" in an old van, presumably hinting at the Mystery Machine. I could see how this would be a turnoff for some, but I sort of like, just in this series's continuity, how they've played it up to have much of their adventures of Mystery Inc. being just kids playing pretend, and now they're faced with real mysteries for the first time. It's sort of neat and makes this series feel like a more realistic take on the franchise. I'm not saying I'd want this in every series, but it's a neat trope for these novels.
Before we move on from Daphne though, I absolutely have to point out that the word "bougie" has officially now been said in the Scooby-Doo franchise for the first time ever. This has been your official "bougie" count, now back to the review.
Fred gets a little bit more of a part in this than simply having women all draped around him like in the first novel. He seemingly hits on Velma a bit, which I found a little odd and I'm not sure if it was because she went on a "no glasses" phase and wore contacts, or if he was genuinely interested in her. I guess we'll have to see. Fred also helps solve the mystery in this novel, and I was happy to see him get a little more of a role.
Still no Scooby whatsoever other than brief mentions, so let's move on to Shaggy. Building off his characterization in the first novel, he seems like a very laid-back, surfer dude type of guy. In a way, he also seems a little tortured as well, and unhappy with his situation with his father. We don't exactly know what that is though, but there seems to be a bit of a mystery still looming over Shaggy's family, so I'm excited to see where that goes!
Velma went on a no-glasses phase in this novel, but later decided that it didn't matter what others thought of her. I thought this was a really nice coming of age message for young adults and was super glad they put this in there. Not really much more to say on Velma this novel, other than I love her personality in this and her snark/wit.
I thought Daphne and Ram's interaction provided a super good message that's really relatable to young adults, or anyone honestly. (This paragraph is probably the most spoilery FYI, so you may want to skip to the next paragraph if you're worried about that). Daphne falling in love with him and opening up so much, only to be crushed and tricked by him is something that's relatable to a lot of us, especially in those teenage years. Many of us have probably met someone we really got along with, opened up to them, and then felt horribly betrayed when we found out the person was not who we thought they were, or even worse, took advantage of us. This happens to Daphne when Ram takes full credit for the story she wrote. I think this is a great, relatable message to have put in here, especially to show young adults that it's okay to feel betrayed and down or whatever, but what's important is that you feel confident in yourself. Some people are going to be untrustworthy or cruel when you open up, but what really matters is that you feel empowered and like who you are. I also liked how they tied it in to the societal phenomenon of men taking advantage of women's work and thinking of them as "lesser" simply because they are women.
I enjoyed that the Hex Girls reappeared in this novel! It seems like they're going to be regular characters. On a related note, this is probably due to my own misreading, but I honestly thought the weird little interludes in third-person where the characters have supernatural encounters were something to do with the "ghosts" from the first book, but it happened again in this book, so I'm thinking now it's actually part of the overall mystery with "The Vanished," the people who disappeared from Crystal Cove 300 years ago? I'm absolutely we're going to get an overarching storyline later on in this series diving into it further, and I can't wait to see where it goes!
I'm really intrigued with this novel series and where it's going. The writing is spot-on, and develops the characters in such an interesting way. It also has a much more mature feel than really any Scooby series I've read before (with the exclusion of Scooby Apocalypse), but it's also really down to Earth and makes important social commentary. I would highly recommend reading this book, and the first one if you haven't already (you can check out my review for that here).
The next in the series, #3, comes out on February 2, 2021, so it's kind of a long wait based on how short of a period it was between #1 and #2. There's no info on the author, or title, or much of the plot, or anything really, but I am 100% buying #3 when it comes out. This has been a great series and I really hope this keeps going for a long time!
7/10/2020 04:12:48 am
Bougie Count lmao.
7/10/2020 11:15:55 am
Haha yes, Shaggy and Fred are supporting characters. Shaggy is more of a supporting character than Fred. Fred appeared in one scene of the first book, and in three scenes of this book. Shaggy is more of a regular supporting character than Fred is.
7/12/2020 08:17:01 am
Hi Wildwind! I just finished reading the novel today. I loved it and can't wait for the next one. Scooby does appear quite a bit in this book, and in a few key scenes. Like at the start when D&V are spying on Shaggy, briefly at the party, at Velma's old-new house when they break it to Shaggy that his dad's businesses are going under, at Daphne's house when she admits she kept one of the jewels that washed up on the beach, and during the whole reveal in the cave. Granted he doesn't do much but I thought it was nice that he is there and that he and Shaggy are so close. I also liked it when he jumped up into Shaggy's lap when he was spooked.
7/12/2020 11:20:04 am
How in the world did I miss that? haha I'll admit I was probably reading a bit fast because I was excited to see what happens next (a bad habit I really need to break), so I really appreciate you pointing this out!
7/12/2020 06:24:42 pm
Oh ok, Scooby's not so useless after all lol. Good to hear he appeared quite a few times.
7/10/2020 09:40:40 am
Oh,I just left a 15th comment on the July 2019 section where the sneak peek of the gang meeting wonder woman is.
7/10/2020 11:19:46 am
Thanks, Ghani! I've gotten all the notifications that you've left comments, I think it was just a glitch that I didn't get the notification for that one comment you made. So I appreciate the reminders, but I don't think they're necessary unless I haven't responded for a week or so, in which case then I've probably missed it. Thanks!
7/10/2020 02:52:37 pm
Yeah no, doesn't sound like my kind of novel.
7/11/2020 06:37:32 am
Fair enough, I can see people especially disliking the fact that their mysteries are said to be just "pretend," but I actually kind of like the more realistic feel it gives the series. Would I want it to be done in other Scooby series? Absolutely not, but I think it's fun draw for these novels.
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~ WildwindVampire ~